Today a customer’s experience with your brand doesn’t begin and end with one channel or interaction. It’s usually a series of interactions across multiple channels, and you’re in charge of not dropping the ball at any point. Your goal is to allow (and encourage!) customers to move fluidly back and forth across channels, so their experience as a whole is seamless, frictionless.

I’ve written in the past how companies must have a strong omnichannel strategy to plan for, execute, and maintain these types of experiences. I’ve also shared examples of companies offering superior holistic experiences already such as Target, who’s learned to appeal to a person’s online and offline needs, and Walgreens, who offers at least 3 ways to complete any interaction with them (photo, pharmacy, and shopping).

Building an omnichannel strategy for customer interaction with your brand is a process. It often starts with players from the business side (marketing, design) outlining business goals and objectives and then figuring out the best way to meet those goals through clever interactions, campaigns, and design ideas. 

Next, the plan is wrapped up with a nice bow and presented to the group at large. Then comes the fun. IT can’t implement your design, because it will require new hardware they don’t have budget for. Compliance calls out numerous accessibility concerns and requires so many changes to the designs, the original concepts are no longer visible. And so on.

Or… everything goes smoothly. The first few ideas are built and launched, but a few months later, no one is monitoring the progress or has the authority to make necessary changes (e.g., changing a process on a website to remove a stumbling block to conversion). Soon the initial strategy is lost in the mire of day-to-day maintenance.

You need digital governance.

In her book Managing Chaos: Digital Governance by Design, Lisa Welchman describes digital governance as:

“a framework for establishing accountability, roles, and decision-making authority for an organization’s digital presence.” 

She argues that without this framework, teams do not understand who’s in charge of what. Who can make the decision on hardware for the server? Who decides what tone of voice to use on Facebook versus Snapchat? Who decides whether the brand should even be on Snapchat? Who makes sure the websites and mobile apps are meeting accessibility standards?

(Hint: Marketing should not be the only team in charge of everything.)

Welchman offers the following maturity model to illustrate where companies are in regards to their handle on digital governance. Often after launching a new digital channel (such as starting a social channel), companies sometimes move into a chaos phase where executives may have given all authority for the channel to junior resources or the team may have no grasp of what assets they have and little to no standards may have been documented for how the brand should be represented on this channel.

Welchman's digital governance maturity model.

Welchman's digital governance maturity model.

She says to move from chaos to basic management and on to responsive you need a digital governance framework. She describes the framework as:

“a system that delegates authority for digital decision-making about particular digital products and services from the organizational core to other aspects of the organization.”

Basically, it’s less about who does the work and more about who has the authority to make decisions. Choosing production teams is not difficult; many of these teams are likely already in place at your organization. However, choosing the decision makers can be tricky, because often many groups feel ownership over one product.

For example, a single website may have different owners from the perspective of design, development, server support, content, branding, compliance, and marketing. The answer is not to exclude people from the decision process. Rather, define everyone’s roles and expertise and assign authority accordingly.

Learn more

To learn more about digital governance and how to set up a framework for your company, check out Welchman’s book and the companion website, which includes additional resources such as the illustrations from the book, a series of blog posts, and a list of FAQs.

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