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What’s the difference between omni-channel and multi-channel?

Are you running an omni-channel or multichannel contact centre? This crucial distinction has a major impact on your customer experience and business success. Read on to understand the key differences and why omni-channel is becoming essential.

Defining Omni-Channel and Multichannel

First, let’s clarify what we mean by “omni-channel” and “multichannel” in contact centres:

Omni-Channel Contact Centre: Integrates communication across all channels into a unified customer experience. Agents have a complete view of the customer journey across phone, email, web chat, social media and more. Data and conversations flow seamlessly between channels.

Multichannel Contact Centre: Handles multiple contact channels like phone, email, web chat, but they operate in silos. Agents specialise in one channel. Customer data and history is fragmented between channels, creating a disjointed experience.

On the surface, both setups handle multiple contact channels. But omni-channel interweaves channels for integrated, personalised customer journeys while multichannel runs parallel, disconnected streams.

Key Differences Between Omni-Channel and Multichannel

Let’s explore 4 main contrasts that set omni-channel and multichannel contact centres apart:

  1. Platform Integration

Omni-channel contact centres utilise a single interface for managing all channels and customer data flows freely between them. Agents access the full history and data picture as they engage customers across channels.

In multichannel setups, agents utilise separate systems for email, phone, web chat, social media and more. Data gets stranded in channel silos, preventing a unified customer view.

  1. Data Continuity

With omni-channel integration, customers experience continuous conversations. If they email a query then call for follow up, agents immediately see that history. Nothing falls through the cracks.

Multichannel contact centres struggle to connect the dots. Customer data stays fractured, so agents handle each contact as isolated instances. This leads to frustrating repetition for customers.

  1. Agent Flexibility

In omni-channel centres, agents handle all contact channels. They toggle between phone, web chat, social media etc fluidly based on customer needs, providing a no-wrong-door experience.

With multichannel, agents specialise in specific channels. Customers get transferred between departments to continue conversations across channels. This hampers continuity and satisfaction.

  1. Management Insights

Omni-channel integration enables a singular view of all customer interactions, illuminating bottlenecks, common issues, channel preferences and more. This drives informed management decisions.

Multichannel setups generate channel-specific data, but can’t aggregate insights across contact streams. Lacking the full picture inhibits effective optimisation.

Advantages of Omni-Channel Contact Centres

Transitioning to an integrated omni-channel model brings manifold benefits:

  • Increased First Contact Resolution: With full customer histories instantly available, agents resolve more queries faster without repetitive information gathering.
  • Improved Customer Experience: By eliminating frustrating channel transfers and repetition, omni-channel delivers superior, seamlessly connected journeys.
  • Enhanced Agent Productivity: Consolidated systems and data unification save agents time. Increased first-call resolution also boosts productivity.
  • Better Insights: Aggregated cross-channel data provides a clearer understanding of customer pain points and contact centre performance overall.
  • Future Flexibility: Omni-channel architecture readily incorporates new channels and contact types as digital engagement evolves. Siloed multichannel makes this difficult.

Becoming Omni-Channel Ready

Evolving to an omni-channel operating model takes concerted strategy and investment, but delivers major dividends. Core focal points include:

  • Audit Contact Centre Channels and Data Flows: Understand current integration deficiencies and roadblocks.
  • Assess Contact Centre Software: Evaluate capabilities to unify channels, data and agent workflows.
  • Improve Cross-Department Collaboration: Break down silos between groups managing different channels.
  • Provide Omni-Channel Training: Equip staff to handle wider channels with integrated data access.
  • Develop Omni-Channel Management Metrics: Track key indicators across channels to optimise performance.

The Path to Omni-Channel Maturity

Very few contact centres reach complete omni-channel integration in a single leap. Orchestrating unified data, platforms and processes across all channels occurs in stages:

  1. Connect the Dots: Link currently disjointed systems for basic data sharing between channels.
  2. Expand Agent Flexibility: Enable more agents to toggle between channels to handle overflow.
  3. Build Omni-Channel Teams: Designate specialist teams to fully support integrated cross-channel engagements.
  4. Offer Omni-Channel Routing: Intelligently distribute contacts to omni-channel agents based on specialisation, capacity and history.
  5. Coordinate Cross-Department: Tighten collaboration between groups managing different channels.

Prioritise Omni-Channel with Cirrus

Transitioning fully to an omni-channel contact centre delivers immense gains in customer experience, agent productivity and actionable insights. But this does require significant coordination between processes, policies, technology and teams across channels.

Cirrus provides industry-leading AI-powered solutions for unifying contact centre platforms, data and workflows into truly integrated omni-channel environments. Our technology paves the path to seamless continuity across channels.

To discuss options for omni-channel enablement, enhanced customer journeys and streamlined contact centre operations, talk to one of our experts at Cirrus today. As pioneers in AI, we’re uniquely positioned to help businesses capitalise on the omni-channel advantage.

Get in touch now to explore an omni-channel future driven by both human connections and AI capabilities. Together, we can propel your customer experience into the next generation.