omnichannel vs multichannel

Today, you can often find customers interacting with brands through the company website or even on social media platforms like Instagram or Twitter. Customers are constantly connected to their favorite brands by simply glancing down at their phone, and this gives companies the opportunity and flexibility to interact with customers in more than one way. 

The Shift in Contact Centers

Due to the technological shift in the past decade, contact centers are now taking a multichannel and omnichannel approach to managing customer interactions. Whether customers are calling customer service representatives or chatting with a live chat agent, contact centers are now able to assist customers on the platforms they are already using. 

One thing that can be easily confused is the difference between multichannel and omnichannel contact centers. Is there a real difference between the two different contact center structures? Or are they one and the same? Let’s dive into what a multichannel and omnichannel contact center looks like and highlight the key differences.

What is a Multichannel Contact Center?

As its name suggests, a multichannel contact center operates on “many” channels.  These channels can include phone, email, live chat, SMS, and social media. Although agents have the capability to connect with customers on these channels, interactions between customers and a multichannel contact center aren’t as seamless as omnichannel contact centers. 

Data in a multichannel contact center is often segmented into data silos. This makes it difficult for agents across different channels to communicate efficiently and effectively with customers. 

What is an Omnichannel Contact Center?

An omnichannel contact center operates on “all” channels of communication. 

Just like multichannel, omnichannel contact centers are present on many of the same channels, but they have the ability to share previous customer interactions with agents across multiple data segments.

Omnichannel contact centers give customers a more seamless experience because your agents have all the data they need about each channel of communication. For example, if a customer reaches out on Instagram and then calls in, both agents have the ability to access all customer information. Your contact center software or platform should connect this data for you so the individual channels are not siloed. By using the right omnichannel tools, you will save time and reduce customer frustration.

What is the Difference Between Multichannel and Omnichannel Contact Centers?

The key difference is in the level of visibility provided to the agent. With multichannel contact centers, agents can access information from a specific channel, but they don’t have visibility into all customer interactions across channels—the data is not unified in multichannel scenarios. With omnichannel, agents have full visibility into each customer interaction, providing more seamless communication.

Omnichannel contact center agents have full visibility into every single interaction a customer has with a brand no matter the channel means. This makes contact center agent hand-offs easier. If an interaction needs to move from one channel to another, it is simple to do without placing a burden on the customer to re-share their issue. Agents have the ability to see customer feedback in context, allowing them to be conscientious of the customer’s time.

For example, let’s say that a customer is emailing a contact center representative about issues with a software program they just purchased. After emailing back and forth for a few minutes, the customer leaves feeling fully assisted with the questions they had. They leave a 5-star review about the customer service experience, and they go on their way. 

A month later, this same customer decides to come back to ask more questions pertaining to the software program. This time, instead of reaching out to an agent via email, they decide to call a live representative to get their technical questions answered. To their dismay, the agent on the phone did not have any information about their last interaction with the agent via email, resulting in a lengthy phone experience for the customer. 

This is a far-out example, but you get the point right? Without a seamless omnichannel experience, your “once happy” customer may have second thoughts after an unexpected customer experience. Having an omnichannel experience ultimately leads to higher customer satisfaction and an improved Net Promoter Score (NPS) for your contact center. 

What Type of Contact Center is Best for Your Business?

Seventy percent of customers say that having a connected process is the key to winning their business. With an omnichannel contact center, your customers are more likely to experience a seamless process that will get them the help they need in a timely manner. 

As your agents start to connect with customers on more and more platforms, it can be easy to lose track of past interactions if you don’t have the right technology in place to record it. Don’t overlook the power of having a contact center with omnichannel capabilities. If you’re ready to simplify tracking your customers’ interactions and solve the needs of your customers faster, sign-up for a demo to see the power of the omnichannel experience.

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