Omnichannel vs. Multichannel Customer Service

In an age where technology is rapidly changing and evolving, so too does the terminology that is partnered with it. Often this terminology is unclear.

Recent examples include the variants of omnichannel and multichannel customer service, where many could understandably find it hard to differentiate the two.

Despite the confusion, industry experts agree there are significant differences between them, and understanding these differences will help businesses provide a better customer experience.

So how do you distinguish between them?

Before the rapidly expanding digital age, the most common ways of contacting a company included visiting the customer service department in-store or by phoning in. The dawn of the internet made it possible to connect with businesses online. With the boom in digital technology- laptops, smart phones, smart TV’s and tablets- there is now a plethora of platforms for customers to utilise.

All these technologies provide multiple customer service channels for businesses to engage with customers and seamlessly, regardless of which channel the customer chooses to use. This makes for a more efficient service that will positively impact customer satisfaction and will most likely increase revenue.

The difference between omnichannel and multi-channel is how all these digital platforms are organised to suit your customer service. Sometimes it may be more appropriate for the company to approach these channels individually, such as the multi-channel approach, where each channel- phone, email, social media, has a different way of reporting data and reaching out to customers to enhance customer experience. In this case, engaging customers in specific ways depending on particular touchpoints.

Yet for many companies it may be more advantageous to have an omnichannel strategy. This means that the company focus is customer satisfaction- where customers can easily switch between channels or use multiple digital channels simultaneously. This may be engaging the customer through live web chat and then also advising that same customer again through the phone line or by email.

Multi-channel and omnichannel are, at the moment, often used interchangeably but as technology continues to evolve the two terms will become more distinctive. Multichannel is essentially an inside-out view, whereby the business is looking to reach out to their customers to enhance customer experience. Omnichannel on the other hand is an outside-in approach, where digital platforms are used to make it easier for the customer to reach the business, and therefore provide a more seamless experience.

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Posted by eckoh at 2:09 PM on Nov 13, 2015

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