Even Dagwood Bumstead is an Omnichannel Customer

Kevin Payne | December 10, 2013

I still read the comic strip “Blondie” from time-to-time. Blondie and her husband, Dagwood Bumstead (for whom the “Dagwood Sandwich” is named), originated in 1930 and have, for the most part, tried to keep up with the times. As I work for a customer experience company, I found it both humorous and ironic that even Dagwood has now become an omnichannel customer. In a recent comic, Dagwood is shown sitting in front of his computer and calling an IVR on his smartphone (hard to tell if it’s an iPhone or an Android). The IVR tells him that, to speak with a technician, he needs to remain on the line. He waits. The IVR then tells him “Seriously, you didn’t really think it would be that easy, did you?”

OK, so this is all in good fun but it made me think of two things. First, the idea of using multiple devices to deal with customer service has become mainstream in pop-culture. Even relatively low-tech Dagwood has a smartphone and is traversing channels and devices to solve a problem. He started on his computer and then picked up his mobile (not his landline…he’s really in tune with the times) to call in for support. Like Dagwood, we don’t even think about using multiple channels and devices when we engage with a company. It’s just what we do nowadays. Second, it’s both funny and ironic that the IVR tells Dagwood that it wasn’t going to be easy. Most of us probably expect a poor experience when we call for customer support via an IVR, especially if we’re traversing from a computer experience. We expect context to be lost and that we’ll have to wait on hold, navigate a bunch of menus and then start our conversation all over at the beginning. The irony of it is, it doesn’t have to be that way. Omnichannel, when done right, maintains that context and simplifies the customer experience. An omnichannel experience, leveraging big data and predictive analytics, means that what Dagwood did on his computer can be carried forward to his IVR experience or when he talks to a customer service agent. The system can maintain the context of his journey and anticipate his next steps and what he needs help with to simplify his call and more quickly solve his problem to improve his customer satisfaction.

Had Dagwood experienced an omnichannel journey, the last panel of the strip, instead of exclaiming that “…you didn’t really think it would be that easy…” could have said “Hi Mr. Bumstead. It looks like you’re trying to pay your bill. How can I help you?”