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Multichannel vs Omnichannel Contact Centers

Updated: Oct 3, 2018

Does connecting with customers via multi channels provide the same customer experience or is there a real difference which has business impact?


According to research, companies which provide an omnichannel customer experience have a much higher year-over-year customer retention increase when compared to those who do not. It would make sense that adding an omnichannel experience to your contact center should be a high priority to the business. How difficult would it be to get this accomplished?

Depending on your infrastructure and IT systems, it may be a difficult project and present a significant challenge. If your business already supports customers on multi channels, does that mean you are already producing an omnichannel customer experience or is it multichannel?

Multichannel Contact Center

As the name implies multichannel means many channels. Businesses that communicate with their customers through the contact center via channels such as voice, web chat, email, and social media are judged to have a multichannel contact center, This type of contact center has channels which are separated or siloed, and do not allow the agent the ability to see data or information from the customer on other channels. This often leads to a incomplete or poor customer experience.

Omnichannel Contact Center

The dictionary defines ‘omni’ as all: in all ways, places, etc. Even though your contact center strives to offer a Best-in-Class omnichannel customer experience, does not mean you are communicating with your customers on every possible channel. What it does indicate is the channels being used are linked together and integrated providing a continuous customer experience.

How many times has a customer contacted a company about a sale or service incident on one channel such as voice/phone, and for one reason or another chose to contact them again for the same or different incident on another channel such as web chat. When the customer begins the web chat session, the agent will be able to see the information logged about the previous voice conversation. In this illustration, the customer is not required to inform the agent of their journey from the beginning, rather the agent will pick up from the last contact channel communication, focusing on giving the customer a great experience.

This is what separates the two types of contact centers, allowing the omnichannel contact center agent the ability to give truly individualized customer service.

Customer Experience: It’s the Journey

A Contact Center agent which has all the available interaction history, personal information and all other aspects of the customer’s path during a product or service incident, will in the end provide a much greater customer experience. Not having the customer repeat their previous interactions will give a much higher level of service faster. This certainly helps customers, agents and the business, and translates into a higher retention and satisfaction scores, and possible future purchases.

The capability to transfer this context from one channel (communication) to another may not work, or be easily deployed within the current contact center technology due to the discrete nature of legacy systems. The infrastructure which exists in the Contact Center may in fact be preventing the business from keeping pace with user behavioral changes and emerging channels.

A system platform which incurs a ‘heavy’ configuration process and provides limited methods for integration will not provide the adaptability to compete in an omnichannel environment. The importance of the omnichannel world is its ability to produce a greater user experience which ties directly into a better bottom line.

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