Omni-Channel vs Multi-Channel

Multi-Channel vs Omni-Channel Support – Difference Between the Two Approaches

“Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they’ll come back. We have to be great every time, or we’ll lose them.” says Kevin Stirtz, the author of the book ‘More Loyal Customers’. This has always been the case with customer service. 

In the age of Information Technology, information is the new oil, and your customers spend considerable time on their smartphones browsing through the web and social media. They also reach out to your brand through various digital channels like social media, live chat, chatbots, self-service portals apart from traditional emails and phone calls to get their queries resolved faster and at their convenience.

So now, the challenge for businesses is to provide cohesive support experience across all customer touchpoints.

Enter Omni-Channel and Multi-Channel Support. These are the two buzzwords that everyone is talking about today and for a good reason. Omni-channel and Multi-channel support are two similar, yet different approaches. It’s essential to know the difference and find out which is better to implement in your business process. 

What is Multi-Channel Support?

Simply put, support across more than two channels or platforms is Multi-Channel support. You can think of multi-channel support as a medium to provide a separate customer experience across multiple channels. You will serve the customers at every touchpoint but most likely with a different team for each support channel without saving the customer data. 

Multi-Channel support might be useful when you want a more modular control of your workflow. It also becomes easier to track down which channel performs better. It can also be a good strategy for businesses who are just starting out. For example: Traditional E-commerce brick and mortar stores are now expanding their online presence.

While multi-channel does allow you to cut costs by not paying for an integrated system but is it worth the frustration that you put your customers through? Let’s take an example:

 An Airline Company XYZ offers Multi-Channel support to its customers. John reaches out to XYZ’s live chat channel to make some travel modifications due to Covid-19. Two days later, John follows up via the phone channel with another agent, who has no context to his issue. John now has to repeat his problem, which leads to a bad customer experience. This is just a simple scenario; there could be a lot more inconsistencies like these with Multi-Channel Support. You risk losing your customers for little savings on the backend. That is why Omni-channel support is becoming increasingly popular.

To summarize here are the pros and cons of a multi-channel support :

Pros:

  1. Provides support at the customer’s channel-of-choice.
  2. Provides dedicated and focused agents for each platform.
  3. In e-commerce stores, provides efficient pro-active support through the customer journey that helps to increase customer engagement and creates better shopping experiences.
  4. Reduces the budget for integrating all channels via software.

Cons:

  1. Inability to have context about the customer.
  2. Slow cross-channel response time leading to higher churns.
  3. Inability to switch between channels.
  4. Customers are forced to repeat themselves.

Omni-Channel Support – Single Brand Experience Across All Touchpoints

Omni-Channel strategy provides a complete and holistic approach for customer communications through all channels to create a unified customer experience. With Omni-Channel Support, you can keep all customer data on the form of contacts inside the platform so your agents can address the issues with proper context and delight the customers.

Starbucks is widely recognized as the champion in omnichannel customer experiences. Their app provides a seamless and unified experience where customers can pay via mobile app, Starbucks card or physical card. Customers get loyalty points, irrespective of the options chosen. They can also search for nearby stores, order ahead of time, send gifts, view new menu items and even save their favorite drinks through the app. Customers can also see what songs are being played in a specific store. With so many channels available to their customer, they’ve earned their place at the top.

This example is enough to show how omni-channel approach can benefit businesses. Let’s look at the pros and cons of Omni-Channel support:

Pros:

  1. Provides a high degree of personalization and customer retention.
  2. Unified platform for support agents to interact with a customer across multiple channels.
  3. Reach out to your customers at their convenience and have proper context to engage with them.
  4. Significantly reduce customer effort.
  5. Connect with your customers better and win their trust by understanding the digital footprints of the customer.
  6. Omni-Channel Help Desks increase efficiency, flexibility, and speed of resolution.

Cons:

  1. Omni-Channel service might require more training to your customer support reps to handle multiple channels.
  2. If there is lack of integration, the whole purpose of Omni-Channel platform fails leading to disjointed communication.

Multi-Channel vs. Omni-Channel Support – Who wins the battle?

While both Multi-Channel and Omni-Channel approaches involve support across a range of channels, the key difference lies in the degree of integration

  • In multi-channel support, the customer service channels are treated as silos.
  • In an omni-channel approach, the touchpoints are linked such that the customer will perceive the brand as a seamless unit, regardless of their chosen route.

On comparison, Omni-Channel Support, that offers a smoother customer experience, seems like a logical choice. Most of the companies who initially started with a Multi-Channel approach are now moving towards an Omni-Channel approach to scale their customer support.  While omni-channel is ideal, some businesses might be better served to start with a multi-channel experience before tying them all together.

Do you want to build an effective Omni-Channel Support system? 

Clearly HappyFox an Omni-Channel Help Desk Software can help you achieve this:

  • Easily integrate tons of customer service tools with HappyFox for easy access
  • Add live chat from your website or add social media channels easily to serve customers right from the help desk.
  • Set up multiple brands and unify the support queries coming from various brands into a single account, so your agents have context about customer activity on all your brands while serving your customers.
  • Knowledgebase and Self-Service Portal offered by HappyFox can also help in deflecting tickets and answer common questions received via other channels.
  • Chatbots can help in answering FAQs and can be integrated into the help desk to provide context to agents about the customer.

HappyFox Help Desk helps your organization seamlessly deliver successful omni-channel experiences to your customers. To know more about the HappyFox Help Desk, sign up for a short demo.

Reetika Choradia

Marketing Operations at HappyFox. Loves to read books and learn about SaaS Products.