The Difference Between Multi-Channel & Omni-Channel

According to CX Today, 9 out of 10 consumers want an omni-channel experience with seamless service between communication methods.

In addition, 35% of customers expect to be able to contact the same customer service representative on any channel.

Over the past several years, offering multiple channels has become the norm for businesses.

With more and more customers favouring multiple channels, it becomes increasingly important to broaden your channel scope and offer a seamless experience.

However, simply adopting channels doesn’t always equate to a happy customer or even a great experience.

In this blog, we’re taking a look at multi-channel and omni-channel, how they differ, and which one your business should consider offering.

Let’s explore.

What Is Multi-Channel?

Multi-channel engagement is the use of multiple channels like Facebook, Text SMS, email, etc. to serve and communicate with customers. With multi-channel adoption there is no channel flow, channels take no particular precedence and a cohesive experience isn’t the main objective.

As we mentioned in a previous blog, you can think of multi-channel as a contact centre that works for a business. If a customer calls in, employees might not use the same verbiage as the business that hired them.

What Is Omni-Channel?

Omni-channel engagement is the use of multiple channels, in a cohesive and engaging manner, to serve and communicate with customers.

Providing a seamless customer journey, the experience remains consistent wherever the customer reaches out from. This includes brand values, verbiage, time to respond, and more. For a more in-depth definition of omni-channel and how you can implement an omni-channel program, click here.

The Difference Between Multi-Channel and Omni-Channel

As you’ve read from the definitions, both omni-channel and multi-channel have some overlapping qualities. However, we shouldn’t confuse the two terms as the same.

While omni-channel offers a consistent experience across an array of channels, multi-channel simply involves a one-and-done approach. You deliver Facebook Messenger and that’s it.

Contrastingly, omni-channel focuses on the experience that the Facebook Messenger channel would deliver. It considers the time to respond, the verbiage used to converse with the customer, who responds, and so much more. In addition, omni-channel looks at the experience as a whole, how many touchpoints the customer has already gone through, in person and digitally, and how all those touchpoints relate to where they are now in their journey.

In short, omni-channel is holistic and takes into consideration how the various channels work effectively with the touchpoints, devices, and customer experience as a whole. It provides continuity, with a central brand ethos and ensures all channels are connected for a seamless customer experience.

Lastly, and most importantly, a major differentiator between omni-channel and multi-channel, is that omni-channel places the customer at the centre of communication. Where multi-channel is a way of simply broadening a business’s communication efforts, omni-channel is a carefully curated way of delivering customer preferences, increasing communication and enhancing the customer experience for long-term loyalty.

Why Businesses Should Opt for Omni-Channel

Meet Customer Expectations

According to a study by Aspect, 61% of surveyed customers claim they haven’t been able to easily switch from one channel to another when interacting with a brand. In addition, 90% of customers already expect consistent interactions across channels, and 9 out of 10 consumers want an omni-channel experience with seamless service between communication methods.

When you deliver a consistent experience you meet customer expectations. Customers today want consistency and pay attention to the details in how employees interact. We mentioned the importance of how employees talk to customers, but consistency can also be considered in terms of time to respond, length of responses, how easy it is to resolve issues, and more. The more consistent you are, the greater the experience and likelihood of repeat conversation.

Consistent Branding

For a brand, reputation is everything. What your customers think of you, how you hold yourself, and what messages you convey to your audience, all play into how successful your brand actually is.

With an omni-channel program in place, you deliver consistency and ensure that regardless of channel, the core message stays the same. Think of it as a marketing tactic, consistent branding that customers can recognize regardless of what channel they decide to reach out to you on. It’s a win for your brand and your customer.

Encourage More Conversations

When you deliver a positive and cohesive experience, you encourage repeat conversations. Consistency and a great experience make conversations with your brand that easier and enjoyable.

Imagine for a moment a customer writing in to complain about a late delivery. If you respond promptly, in the same cohesive tone you’ve used throughout their experience, and you’re available on the channel of their choice, there’s a high probability that they’ll reach out again if something comes up.

Author note: In addition to encouraging more conversations, omni-channel also deters customers from writing negative sentiment online. If a customer has had a great experience dealing with your brand 1:1 in the past, if something arises, they’ll be less likely to vent their sentiments online and instead write to you directly. 

How a Unified Inbox Streamlines Conversations

We’ve covered the benefits of omni-channel and why it’s so critical to implement, but how can you do so effectively?

At the pinnacle of any successful omni-channel program is a management tool that consolidates all conversations.

A common pain point for businesses adopting channels is managing them. Imagine, communicating to customers on a range of channels. It can be difficult to stay consistent or manage your time on each channel when you’re constantly toggling through web pages. What’s more, it’s virtually impossible to understand which channel is outperforming which and measure the experience you’re providing with a tool to aid you.

This is where having a sophisticated solution like the Loop Expeirence platform can play a massive role in omni-channel success. Whether you’re looking to adopt Facebook Messenger, SMS, email, or WhatsApp, you get a single pane view, of each customer conversation – regardless of channel. This means no back and forth and no wondering if your colleague answered that message.

Further with a solid solution like Loop, you can get the insights you need to unlock a new level of satisfaction. What’s the average sentiment of people who write in? What trends are you seeing in your omni-cahnnel program? With Loop you get all of this insight at your fingertips and can explore new ways to constantly enhance the experience. It takes omni-channel to the next level.

Looking to seamlessly connect with your customers? Click here to contact a representative and learn how you can start offering an omni-channel experience. 

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