Do you really know the differences between multichannel and omnichannel? What communication strategy with the client would be the most convenient?
Rosa Cabanillas, Senior Consultant at C3, will discuss in the following article a clarifying topic about two terms that we hear frequently: multichannel and omnichannel.
Through our training, we hope to establish their differences. You may also find another interesting article on training: Has the end of face-to-face training come?
On the one hand, both words are based on similar concepts. Whereas in a literal multichannel translation it would be, “Multi” comes from the Latin multus (much, abundant); “Omni”, from omnis (all, all kinds of). “Omnichannel” refers, therefore, to the internal and interconnected use of all channels. On the other hand, the real difference between both concepts does not lie in the number of channels, but in the management strategy used to use the channels in relationships between clients and companies. And, therefore, the words chosen provide to mere differentiations in details.
Differences between multichannel and omnichannel
If we wanted to summarize it quickly, we could say that omnichannel is a management strategy in which all the channels between which the company and its client interact (possible or current) are presented to the client in a homogeneous and seamless way. That is, without differences in treatment or results between one or the other, and they are managed in a global and unified way, with a far vision removed from the classic treatment. While multi-channelling remains more on a technological level: the capability to include several channels (no matter the number, they can be two, three, or they can be all existing) in the relationship and interaction with the customer. In this case, we are talking about training and enabling these channels, but we are not talking about any type of strategy related to them.
We can also consider the separate definitions of both terms.
It deals with all the management and customer relationship tools that allow interaction with customers through incoming or outgoing contacts through any of the communication channels established by the company with customers. It offers a variety of channels and they can use one channel in a single interaction. If they change the channel, the context and the story are lost.
These tools began to gain strength at the beginning of 2000 to incorporate the voice, email, fax and SMS management. Over the years, all those communication channels that customers use in their daily communications between friends and family have been incorporated. The goal is to be closer and to empathize better. Today, we can establish multichannel communications with voice, email, fax, sms, chat, web, mobile apps, video calls, shared browsing, social networks, WhatsApp… In addition, more channels will be added over time.
It is a term used to refer to a client management strategy. It Offers a choice of channels, and customers can use more than one in multiple interactions, preserving the history and context of the original inquiry at the same time. Relevant information follows the customer through channels and interactions.
This strategy addresses the entire life cycle of the customer’s relationship with the supplier company. A coherent, consistent and seamless communication and interaction is established through the different channels that the client wants to use to interact with the company. Mainly in physical stores (Retail), Internet, Mobile or the Contact Center. In order to achieve this omnichannel customer management, it is necessary to coordinate all the areas that interact, directly or indirectly with the customer.
Among the most used examples to illustrate the concept of omnichannel are usually innovations in the field of retail, where a customer, regardless of the channel used, receives a unified treatment. That customer who buys a product online, picks it up in a physical store, but later discovers that he needs a different size. Thanks to its mobile application, you can determine in which store near you have that size, go to it and make the change. During the whole process there have been no obstacles or different information.
We add the Multimodal term
It offers a variety of channels. Customers can use more than one in the same interaction. For example: an agent can send an email or SMS to a customer while talking on the phone.
Definitely, the most difference between multichannel and omnichannel is that while the first rarely allows us to jump between channels, in omnichannel the channel is transparent.
At the business level, omnichannel service is one that allows the use of different channels, both sequentially or simultaneously. Besides, they are fully integrated with the attention process and are aimed at ensuring a satisfactory customer experience.
It is almost obvious that to achieve the second, that is to offer omnichannel customer service, you have to go through the first, and, however, problems arise when an appropriate strategy is not implemented after the acquisition of the technology. Technology partners have great products that they integrate a large number of communication channels, allowing to join the information from all of them to be combined in an appropriate way. There are still a large number of companies that do not take advantage of these capabilities once acquired. Until the Business department includes the monitoring and improvement of the customer experience in the service processes within its strategy, it will not begin to take advantage of omnichannel technology.
One of the most common mistakes when implementing an omnichannel strategy is to confuse the need to attack all service processes from all available channels.
Successful omnichannel experience
Finally, and going back to the service processes in general, it is important to define the factors that define a successful omnichannel strategy:
- Customers have used the different channels according to the degree of penetration of the use.
- Customers have been able to put a process on hold on one channel and continue it without repeating the previous story from another channel.
- Customer satisfaction levels regarding the service received are clearly positive.
Multichannel and Omnichannel Conclusions
It is interesting to see how those companies that have focused on omnichannel service processes also have simultaneously focused on managing customer knowledge and their experience with the company. Definitely, everything is a part of the same journey, which is none other than incorporating customer management and knowledge as part of the core of the company.
Above all, we hope to have clarified the difference between the referred terms multichannel and omnichannel.