Every day from managing my grocery order to following up on my monthly bills to getting a new subscription - most of my conversations are across different channels. Much like me, every modern-day customer is looped into multiple touchpoints and uses them as per convenience.
Now to ensure a smooth experience across these touchpoints is the responsibility of the brands we are connecting with - if they fail to do so, we only obviously move on to a more competent service provider.
Contact centers often use the terms omnichannel and multichannel interchangeably. However, in reality, an omnichannel and multichannel contact center differs significantly from both operations and customer experience.
Support and communication channels are unified through the backend. An agent can quickly access customer history through an easy-to-use dashboard giving him/her all the relevant data to hold a personalized conversation with the customer without repeating information.
This allows the agent to interact with the customer through various channels; voice, email, web forms, social media, fax, chat, and text. This gives the customer the flexibility of choosing the channel(s) to engage with the business. However, the interactions are isolated and disintegrated.
Source: Audience Prime
The omnichannel vs. multichannel contact center debate is an on-going one. So here I have decided to put together the key differences between both the strategies and how it impacts the contact center industry.
In Multichannel contact solutions, each channel is isolated. Due to this splitting of channels, customer information and communication is not unified. The agent must now switch between tabs to gain history on the customer's previous interactions.
In Omnichannel contact solutions, every channel is unified on the backend. Therefore, the agent can access all channels through one dashboard and tap into essential customer history to improve conversation quality. While omnichannel contact solutions are more evolved, it, in turn, means it is more complicated. The need for proper integration between a new channel with existing ones, the existing businesses, and back-office processes are crucial.
In Multichannel contact solutions, agents are trained based on the channel they are assigned. This channel-specific training means they are prepared to meet the customer's needs that arise only specific to that channel. Agent training is relatively fast and easy.
In Omnichannel contact solutions, agents are trained across all the platforms/channels that are currently in use. To meet the customer's needs, the agent must know the technology inside and out. Agent training is methodical, requiring more time and effort.
In Multichannel Contact Solutions, customer experience across all platforms is not uniform. To optimally meet the customer's needs, some agent/customer effort is required, especially if the customer's previous interactions have been across various channels.
For example, multiple agents from various channels will ask you to repeat your concern, followed by your complaint id and more. It's a frustrating ordeal and eventually repels the customer from seeking help.
In Omnichannel Contact Solutions, agent training is more evolved with a steep learning curve with proper implementation being slightly complex. As all customer information from various touchpoints is under one umbrella, the agent can swiftly find out your complaint, your customer journey with the brand, your previous interactions, and more.
Some companies leverage this information to assign you a similar agent that handled your earlier issue. This enriches the relationship between the brand and the customer, offering a fulfilling experience.
The metric for measuring performance in Multichannel Contact Solutions is channel-specific. Conversions evaluate the impact of each channel. Disintegrated information as such makes it difficult for the managerial teams to evaluate and make executive decisions.
Omnichannel contact solutions provide a consistent, standardized, and more personalized experience across channels with a streamlined dashboard for easy access to customer engagement history. Due to this, overall business performance can now easily be measured while also measuring channel-specific impact. This makes it easier for teams to make executive decisions and implement them.
According to research from Aberdeen, companies had witnessed 91% YOY growth when they switched to an omnichannel strategy. After all, customers will always choose convenience.
I hope this clears the fog on omnichannel vs. multichannel contact center experience. Statistics points at omnichannel to be a favorable solution for contact centers. However, different brands have different goals and budgets, so they should choose accordingly.
Author Bio: Sweta is a passionate technical writer with experience in digital marketing. Outside work, she is a devoted Esports advocate.