Table of contents
Are you an omnichannel contact center or a multichannel contact center? More importantly, what’s the difference? In this blog, we’ll shed light on what it means to be an omnichannel contact center, how it can benefit your business, and how to assess where you are on the journey to an omnichannel approach.
First and foremost, So … what is omnichannel?
Most businesses use at least two channels to reach consumers. Some use as many as five. But does the number of channels used qualify you to hold the badge of “Omnichannel”? To better understand and perhaps build a business case for your 2022 initiatives, let’s first understand what an omnichannel call center is.
The simple answer is that Omnichannel is the ability to create a consistently high level of personalization across all channels, at all times. For a bit more depth, we look to a contact center consulting group’s explanation:
“Omni-channel customer service provides a real-time perspective of customer interactions, regardless of channel. Multi-channel is a siloed approach where contact and interaction details reside wholly or in part in the channel silo. As a result, front-line staff can’t access the most current or accurate information. They are therefore at a disadvantage when interacting with customers.” – Colin Taylor CEO & Chief Chaos Officer at The Taylor Reach Group.
Omnichannel contact center vs. multichannel contact center
To further understand the differences between an omnichannel contact center and a multichannel contact center, it’s helpful to compare them in four key areas.
Number of channels
In both omnichannel and multichannel setups, there are multiple channels for communicating with customers. This might include phone, email, live chat, social media and so on. If you haven’t interacted with a brand, omnichannel and multichannel call centers look pretty similar from the outside looking in. Once you take a closer look, though, the similarities end.
In an omnichannel contact center, agents work across many different channels to best serve the customer. For example, they may switch back and forth between email and webchat when working on a particular ticket. No agent or set of agents “owns” a particular channel. In a multichannel contact center, agents work within a specific channel. One set of agents might specialize in phone support while an entirely different set owns communications on the brand’s social media channels. Switching between them requires a customer to be handed off between two or more agents.
An omnichannel call center solution uses a single interface to handle all channels. In omnichannel cloud contact centers, that platform is fully virtual and can be accessed from any device with an internet connection. In a multichannel contact center, communicating on different channels might be done on disparate programs, with agents needing to use one application for email support, another for webchat, etc.
Finally, contact center structures can be defined by how data flows within them. In omnichannel structures, customer data flows across channels and is shared among them. In multichannel setups, data is siloed from one channel to the next.
Benefits of omnichannel contact centers
Higher agent productivity
Because agents don’t have to switch back and forth between different applications, they save precious minutes on customer interactions. Because data from all channels flows freely, it’s easy for them to quickly call up the customer information they need without having to go searching for it. This helps agents get more done.
Deeper customer insights
Customer data is powerful, even from just one channel. When all available data from every channel is combined, the resulting insights are greater than the sum of the parts. The free-flowing data in an omnichannel contact center can help you learn invaluable information about your customers, like what prompts them to seek support, where they’re abandoning calls, and how they interact with your support channels.
Increased service speed
Another benefit of shared data is speed. Because their personal data is fully integrated, the customer doesn’t have to spend a ton of time inputting their information. When they call in to voice support at an omnichannel contact center, for example, their phone number is linked to their customer record, which contains information about their product ownership and previous support interactions. As a result, these are things the agent doesn’t need to spend time asking about, which leads to a faster overall handle time.
Improved customer experience
The beauty of an omnichannel contact center experience is that it’s so seamless the customer doesn’t even have to think about it. They can transition effortlessly between channels and have their issue resolved in a single interaction more often than not. It’s easy for the customer to do business with you, which promotes loyalty.
The all-in-one interface of an omnichannel contact center makes it easy for agents to do their jobs. This minimizes frustration and increases employee satisfaction, which can help reduce attrition.
Embed video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7u8C3xbo1Hg
Why should you care?
An increasingly digital-savvy and instant gratification consumer has resulted in a significant reduction in brand patience and loyalty. In the last few years, we’ve seen that trend generate a tangible impact on the bottom line as research leaders such as Frost & Sullivan found that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.
So, how far along is your business on the path to achieving True Omnichannel? To find out, take this quick quiz. Where are you along the Journey? (Grade from a SCALE OF 1-5)
Can you journey map across multiple channels? Take our quiz.
If you’ve scored closer to 25, you are one of only 11% of contact centers who believe they’ve reached true omnichannel. If you didn’t, innovation and best practices are being forged by those ahead of you. You can take their lessons and use them to make your journey just a bit easier.
Omnichannel is an approach to inbound or outbound communications that involves multiple integrated channels, i.e. voice, email, SMS, and webchat. One of the defining characteristics of omnichannel is a seamless customer experience
In a contact center, omnichannel refers to a structure where all support channels are integrated. Data is unified among them and customers are able to switch seamlessly from one channel to another with no loss of continuity or context.
In a multichannel contact center, customer data and interactions are siloed between various support channels. In an omnichannel contact center, customer data is integrated and interactions are continuous from one channel to the next.