TCS Difference between Multi channel and Omni Channel

Difference between Multi channel and Omni Channel

Companies often confuse the terms “multichannel” and “omnichannel.” Let’s clarify the difference.

According to research from Aberdeen, companies who provide an omnichannel customer experience achieve a 91% higher year-over-year increase in customer retention, compared to organizations who don’t provide an omnichannel experience. With compelling statistics like that, it sure seems like providing an omnichannel experience should be a high priority for businesses, right? And yet, it’s not that simple. A 2016 survey found that companies rank “omnichannel” as the second biggest challenge facing their contact center, after people and processes.

Why is it so challenging? And what does omnichannel mean, anyway? If your business is engaging with customers on multiple channels, like email and inbound phone calls, are you already offering an omnichannel customer experience, or is it a multichannel experience? Are they really that different?

Companies often confuse the terms “multichannel” and “omnichannel.” Let’s clarify the difference.

What is a Multichannel Contact Center?

The literal translation of “multi” is “many,” so multichannel refers to many channels. Companies that connect with customers in their contact center via multiple channels, such as email, social media, web chat, and telephone, can be said to have a multichannel contact center. However, just because a customer can connect with your contact center via multiple channels does not mean that their experience is seamless.

An agent who connects with a customer in a multichannel contact center by phone may not have any information about that customer’s previous interactions on another channel. Often in a multichannel contact center, channels are siloed — agents can’t see the context from interactions customers had on other channels.

What is an Omnichannel Contact Center?

The literal translation of “omni” is “all,” so omnichannel refers to all channels. An omnichannel contact center isn’t necessarily operating on all possible channels of communication that exist (in today’s technology landscape, these are constantly changing), but it means that all of the channels it does operate on are connected and integrated to provide a seamless customer experience.

For example, a customer may be browsing a company’s website and ask a few questions via the website’s chat option. After chatting with an agent, the customer may go on their way but come back to the website one week later. This time, the customer selects the click-to-call option to receive a call back from an agent. When the agent calls the customer, the agent can see a log of the customer’s previous chat conversation, as well as information about the customer’s visits to the company website including the products they are interested in. The customer doesn’t have to get the new agent up to speed—the agent can just jump right in and help the customer have a great experience.

In this omnichannel contact center example, if the customer has further contact with the company in the future, via email, in-app messaging, SMS, or any other channel, the agent on the other line will continue the customer’s journey from wherever it left off last time. This level of continuity is what sets omnichannel communications apart from multichannel communications. Omnichannel contact centers provide agents with the information they need to provide truly top-notch, personalized customer service.

Customer Experience: It’s All About Context

When we refer to context, we’re specifically referring to the customer’s personal information, interaction history, and all other aspects of the customer journey being available to the agent during a service or sales interaction. When your agents know who your customers are, what they’re looking for, and what they’ve already spoken to another agent about, they can give better service, faster. Context saves your customers from having to repeat themselves and ultimately contributes to a superior customer experience.

Context helps everyone: agents, customers, and businesses. Customers receive a better communication experience, which in turn leads to higher retention, positive recommendations, and further purchases down the road. Agents receive higher customer satisfaction scores and meet their targets more easily. But providing context to your contact center agents isn’t as easy as it sounds. Transferring context from one communication channel to the next doesn’t work with just any contact center technology. Legacy systems and siloed software systems can’t do this.