If you are in the customer service industry you probably have heard the terms “multichannel” and “omnichannel”. Commonly used when discussing customer experience, these new buzzwords are often used interchangeably and can be confusing to organizations. By examining and better understanding these terms, we can add clarity and speak to how these impact customer experience.
The term multichannel defines the various channels that are made available to connect with an organization. If you ever shopped online or ordered something via a mobile app, you have already participated in a multichannel customer interaction. Companies may offer several ways for a customer to interact with their organization, but the experience is not always consistent across each channel. Take processing speed, for example. I may be able to purchase items online in half the time it would take for me to call the organization and place my order by phone.
Multichannel is far from a new concept, however. Consumer shopping via TV, catalogs, contact centers, in-store, door-to-door were all available prior to the technology explosion allowing even more ways to engage. Today, with the help of the internet, customers can utilize their PC, tablet, smart TV and mobile phones as channels to connect. In short, multichannel engages customers through various contact points, but not always with same service, message or experience.
The term omnichannel refers to a consistent relationship and message across all channels. Omnichannel connects the dots between each available channel. In addition, it also explains the simultaneous use of two or more channels. If you have ever logged on to a rewards or coupon site on your mobile phone and displayed the discount during checkout in a retail store, you have experienced an omnichannel interaction. The ability to seamlessly and consistently deliver a unified experience across all channels is no easy challenge. However, organizations can increase their customer loyalty through well-executed omnichannel marketing.
Research done by the Aberdeen Group shows businesses that adopted an omnichannel strategy benefited with a 91% year-over-year increase in client retention rates compared to organizations that chose not to implement this type of interaction plan. Reducing the confusion of different messages across multiple engagement channels is a key attribute in retaining customers and increasing profits.
As consumers, we are more plugged-in and informed than previous decades due to technology and information availability. Consequently, this connectivity opens the door for more choices on how we shop. We want to be catered to and valued for our business. As individuals, we can choose the channels that best suit our needs, creating our own unique customer experience. This experience can have a positive or negative effect on our interaction within each channel. Having a multichannel customer service platform is just the first step in delivering a tailored customer experience. Omnichannel takes that a step further by allowing us to communicate in the same manner that we would with our peers: switching channels as we please without having to “start over” with our conversation. This strategy allows us to have our unique experience on the channel of our choice while also having the same experience when interacting via another channel within the same organization. Omnichannel links your personal information with your contact history and provides the same customer service message across all channels. This ultimately creates a positive experience that nurtures the relationship between you and the businesses who implement an omnichannel strategy.
Organizations that are not investing in multichannel customer engagement strategies are at a high risk of missed profit opportunity and falling to their competition. Furthermore, organizations that are implementing an omnichannel strategy will experience a 3.4% increase (on average) in customer lifetime value. As businesses become more customer-centric, it is vital for them to evolve and adapt to an omnichannel experience management program to create a holistic, positive and efficient customer service experience.