The simple way to understand the difference between the two approaches is to know begin with the prefixes, “multi” means many, and “omni” means all. Multi channel environments utilize many different communication devices and platforms to allow for customer interaction. For instance, a company allowing consumers to call, email, write and chat is taking a multi channel approach. The focus is on the many ways the customer can communicate with the company.
Omni channel is more about how well the company can see what a specific consumer is doing in all the channels. It is how well the organization can combine the various touchpoints to get a view of its overall communication effectiveness. An omni channel uses all of the same devices and platforms, but unites the customer engagement information at one central point. This central point is then shared through the company network so that no matter how the customer contacts you, or who they speak with, they are getting a consistent message built upon knowledge of their prior interactions.
Which do customers prefer?
Customer's respond better to omni channel communication as it means they are not repeating information each time they switch channels. It adds to the perception of accessibility and personal concern for a company and can radically increase brand loyalty. There is real power of perception for a person to person contact with a customer – whether they are new, placing an order, or filing a complaint – the more your company has a “face” to it the stronger the memory of the interaction will be. Omni channel communication creates that face because it brings the history of the customer to the organization’s representative who in turn can use the information to make the consumer feel valued.
Is one better than the other, or is it just preference?
Omer Minkara, the Research Director of the Aberdeen Group, recently did a comprehensive review of performance data of companies using either the multi channel or omni channel environment for their customer engagement. He found that in 91% of the instances, companies using the omni channel environment had better customer satisfaction and resolution ratings. The companies also reported more effective use of budget allocations for customer engagement management correlating with increased sales and retention.
How true is this across different industries?
Minkara's statistical review extended across a cross section of companies with online or mobile service engagement. His study supports that any type of industry or business using multi-modal and device engagement with their customers will benefit from omni channel design. Even if your multi-device access is only the choice of email or a direct phone number, managing it within an omni channel environment improved sales and retention overall.
Is there any place where multi channel is preferred?
Multi channel communication environments are still preferred for corporations that work with highly specialized divisions. Within each division, an omni channel environment should be employed. Many companies using multi channels for their divisions are starting to integrate an omni channel environment for inter-division communication. The ability to manage contacts and relationships can be just as effective in-house as it is with customers.
What does it take to develop an omni channel environment?
Switching from a multi channel environment to an omni channel, or starting to build an omni channel system from scratch takes intensive work. Every detail of the presentation and communication potential with customers has to be considered. Visual design continuity is essential across multiple platforms, as is the consistency of the message delivered. The back-end design of an omni channel environment is focused on creating an integrated information system that allows any customer representative or manager to access a full record of customer interactions at any time. Once in place, the system must be managed on a daily basis to insure results.
How can your company afford to provide an omni channel customer experience?
The intense nature of construction, implementation and management of an omni channel environment may make it seem like it is out of reach for most companies. However, more companies are bringing new products, dashboards and interfaces to market that are lowering the obstacles to omni channel integration. Still many organizations wanting an omni channel system outsource the creation and management of it to a contact service agent or work with a consultant to set up the technology and process. Outsource providers have dedicated resources and personnel that can easily handle the task of implementing a central point for your customer service through the omni channel environment. This puts this valuable tool for increasing sales and retention within the reach of almost any budget.
GCS provides omni channel support through outsourced contact centers, management of client centers and consulting on selection, implementation and improvement. To learn more contact us for a no obligation consultation.