Multi-channel vs Omni-channel in Contact Centers

July 20, 2018

Two of the hottest terms in the call center business right now are “Multi-channel” and “Omni-channel.” These phrases are consistently popping up whenever the subjects of customer service and the customer experience are mentioned, but what do they actually mean?

Multi-channel:

Multi-channel contact centers give customers the flexibility to choose the method of contact that makes the most sense for them at any given time and requires your organization to provide the same prompt, informed customer experience across all channels. Take processing speed, for example. I may be able to purchase items online in half the time it would take for me to call the organization and place my order by phone.

Omni-channel:

The literal translation of “Omni” is “all,” so omni-channel refers to all channels. An omni-channel contact center is not 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.

Impact:

As individuals, we can choose the channels that best suit our needs, creating our own unique customer experience. This experience can have a positive or negative effect on our interaction within each channel. Having a multi-channel customer service platform is just the first step in delivering a tailored customer experience. Omni-channel takes that a step further by allowing us to communicate in the same manner that we would with our peers: switching channels as we please without having to “start over” with our conversation.  This strategy allows us to have our unique experience.

Transforming a multi-channel contact center into an omni-channel one integrates and improves customer service. It increases compliance with regulatory mandates and preserves the customer history regardless of the channel. Most important, it improves the quality of the customer experience and thus increases long-term brand loyalty in a highly competitive environment.

Written by: Amin Patel of DATAMARK, Inc. 

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