Omni-channel vs. multi-channel

Unlocking the value in the little things

Does your business have a multi-channel or omni-channel customer experience strategy?

Do you know the difference?

The debate about these two strategies has ramped up as technology continues to create new lanes for communication. On the surface these two terms can seem extremely similar. Without a clear understanding, the key differences can be lost along with some ROI.

Let’s take a look at the language. Multi refers to “many”, while omni means “all.” The distinction between these two strategies doesn’t rely so much on the number of channels your customer experience strategy handles. Rather, it is how your customer experiences these channels.

It’s all about perspective.

The customer-centric model has evolved and created a need for a truly seamless customer experience. The core difference between these two strategies comes down to the subtle ways in which your business delivers it’s messaging across platforms.

Multi-channel and omni-channel can both entail communication and data collection on a handful of platforms. These platforms can include: phone, SMS, social media, web, email, chabots, etc. But how is this communication and data collected, shared and reported? If it is siloed: it’s multi-channel. If it’s unified and integrated seamlessly: it’s omni-channel.

“Can I have your account number?”

If you have ever contacted a customer service representative, you have likely heard this question. If you were dealing with a multi-channel service — you heard it more than once. A customer may have provided information via the web, but when they call the representative the information is not at their fingertips.

This is just one example of the silos that exist in a multi-channel strategy. These are a nuisance for customers but also for customer service agents.

An omni-channel customer experience strategy ensures integration across platforms and saves companies time and money. All while making the experience for the customer and agents better.

Let’s take a deeper look at the differences between these two strategies.

Multi-Channel

  • Multiple channels customers can engage with
  • Budget, application, process and data communication silos
  • Disparate data storage

In a multi-channel system there are multiple platforms for the customer to engage in. However, the data across these applications is often not shared or communicated effectively.

Training may be required for each individual application and integration between programs can be cumbersome. Consistent messaging within this system is difficult and fails to enhance the customer experience. Separate processes, budgets, and tools also dwell independently.  Inherit problems arise when such important factors live in isolation.

Reporting and revenue goals can also be a nightmare in this model. Contact center directors know this challenge all too well.

Omni-channel

  • Multiple channels for customer to engage with
  • Unified communication experience
  • Data, accessibility and reporting integration

An omni-channel strategy focuses on unifying the communication experience for the customer.  Similar to the multi-channel model, the omni-channel experience also provides multiple platforms for the customer to interact with. However, the core difference is the consistent messaging and experience for the client across all devices and platforms. Omni-channel systems provide the easiest route to answering questions or solving problems during all parts of the customer journey. This puts the power of all interactions a customer has had with a business at anagents/clerks fingertips — making the client feel much more connected and significant.

The dollar difference

Implementing an omni-channel system may seem like a costly solution to such subtle issues. But losing customers is far more costly. According to a study by Aspect Software, companies with an omni-channel strategy achieve 91% greater year-over-year customer retention rates compared to those that don’t. On average it costs 5 times more to get a new customer than to keep an existing one.

Customers experiences will be better and your ROI will increase.

Consumers are naturally omni-channelled. They are constantly interacting with businesses and services across a myriad of digital platforms. Technology has allowed this seamless transition for the consumer — but businesses are slow to adopt the same system. To elevate your customer experience strategy you must put the consumer first.

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