The ongoing debate surrounding multi-channel and omni-channel access is finally reaching its critical mass. In recent years, companies have had to undergo a significant transformation to meet customer demand and to stay relevant in the wake of digital penetration and connectivity across multiple platforms.
Let’s look at multi-channel vs. omni-channel workflows, the good, the bad and the ugly:
Multi-channel customer service: what it is and is not
Typically, a company engages the customer through multiple channels: in-store, on the website, through email campaigns, mobile, social media, print advertising, promotional events, and phone-based customer service. The customer has access to the company and related product information through all of these avenues, not all of which are interconnected or integrated in any meaningful way. The result is often a disconnect between channels, and an inconsistent brand message and customer experience.
Another key issue with multi-channel is the lack of focus on the devices customers are actually using to access a company’s products and services. There is often a brand inconsistency and possibly a completely different experience altogether between web and mobile, a disconnect between online and phone customer service, and so on.
If each channel is managed as a separate entity, there is also a danger of creating data silos, in which one channel does not have access to data from another. If data from each channel cannot be integrated, interconnected, and viewed as a whole, it may create more problems than it solves. The unfortunate downside to this is that it passes that disconnect on to the customer-facing side.
Omni-channel: how it differs from multi-channel
The omni-channel approach uses the same channels to engage with customers, but it differs in three key areas: first, there is a marked consistency between the channels. Second, there is a focus on the devices used in customer interactions. The brand message and customer experience are streamlined, allowing for a seamless process whether the customer chooses to engage via Facebook, for instance, or through their browser via web chat. Finally, the data from all channels are connected, providing important information and metrics that improve the customer service experience and help to isolate areas where there is a need for improvement.
In a typical omni-channel scenario, all channels are interacting. A customer starts a conversation with the company on one channel; let’s say they are on their laptop in the morning before they go to work. They then leave for work, and during their commute, they want to pick up the interaction on their mobile device while they’re in transit. Their customer service experience should allow them to pick up where they left off, even if they are interacting with another individual or channel. This is just one example of the benefits the omni-channel experience delivers.
This also holds true for marketing efforts. In any single marketing campaign, there can be many layers: there may be an email outreach to customers already on their list. There would also be a social media campaign that would echo the visuals and brand message that the email campaign offers, which would also be repeated on the website, in print ads, and so on. Whatever channel the customer chooses to interact with, the message and the experience would be the same.
Omni-channel delivers meaningful analytics
Omni-channel operation also allows important metrics to become visible to all stakeholders within the company. It eliminates data silos, connecting important data from all channels and departments to form a true representation of how the business is performing from a customer experience standpoint. With a 360˚ view of all customer touchpoints, it is much easier to see if and where a particular channel is underperforming.
Better collaborative support
Omni-channel customer service supports greater collaboration as well, helping your call center agents to connect with information gathered on specific issues and customers through every touchpoint. Customer information, including social media profiles, email addresses, browsing history and more is integrated into a single view, helping your team to deliver solutions and build customer confidence in the process.
Infinit Contact: your omni-channel headquarters
If your company is considering an omni-channel approach, call Infinit Contact today. We are in the business of delivering tailored omni-channel customer service experiences that help businesses grow and prosper, and we’d love to find out more about you and how we can be a part of your future success.