Omni vs. multi-channel contact center

Understand how a genuine omnichannel contact center delivers better flexibility and customer experiences

by Anita Stein, AT&T Product Marketing, Contact Center Solutions

Digital transformation is reconditioning behaviors and elevating expectations of how businesses should interact with their customers. Driving these changes are technologies that give customers what they want: more personalized and efficient experiences and faster resolution of issues. At the heart of this ongoing transformation lies the contact center. Businesses searching for opportunities to retain customer loyalty and protect market share should look to their contact centers. How should they digitally transform? Should they be omnichannel or multi-channel? What’s the difference between the two?

A shift in mindset

Unlike a voice-centric contact center that forces customers to conform to the limited capabilities of a single type of technology, a digitally-transformed contact center allows customers to select the channel best suited to their needs and lifestyles. By adding more channel options, contact centers reorient their operations around customer behaviors and prioritize their satisfaction. Only a true omnichannel architecture can deliver the flexibility and continuity customers now expect. This shift can at times require substantial overhaul of existing infrastructures, but making the investment can protect long-term competitiveness.

The nuts and bolts of omnichannel architectures

Many organizations confuse multi-channel with omnichannel. A multi-channel infrastructure supports various discrete channels of communication such as telephone, chat, SMS, email, video, social, and Internet of Things (IoT). Without full integration, consumers must reiterate their concerns at each channel transition. These siloed interactions not only make it difficult to quickly resolve the customers’ issues, they frustrate efforts to analyze customer trends.

Unlike a disjointed multi-channel infrastructure, an omnichannel architecture coordinates, aggregates, and continually updates data. Virtually every channel and agent receives access to near-real-time and historic customer information.

This coordination of data permits customers to pass from one channel to another—and from one agent to another—while receiving a consistent level of service. What’s more, the contact center continually learns and updates its intelligence with each customer interaction. And by equipping contact center agents with a “single pane of glass” overview of the customer’s journey, omnichannel architectures can deliver vastly improved customer experiences.  

It’s all about the customer

With access to consolidated customer information, agents can service customer needs more efficiently without requiring them to repeat critical issue details. By empowering the customer to select his or her preferred method of interaction, omnichannel architectures put customers in the driver’s seat.

To ensure you provide the right kind of channel options for your customers, review the data to discover their habits and preferences. Does one type of customer tend to initiate contact via phone but concludes a resolution with chat? How can your contact center deploy those tools to better enable that pathway? What age groups are most likely to engage through social media channels, and what types of issues cause them to initiate contact? Does one social channel allow for easy orchestration within your omnichannel infrastructure, and does it supply actionable analytics?

By collecting this data and deploying an omnichannel solution to satisfy your customers’ needs, your contact center can improve the overall customer experience and enhance satisfaction. Implementing an omnichannel infrastructure is just one aspect of digital transformation, however.

Other key steps can support your contact center in meeting expectations amid a changing competitive landscape. In the next installment of this series, we’ll cover other critical transformation stages.

To learn more about how to digitally transform your contact center and deliver exceptional customer experiences, read our white paper, Welcome to the digitally transformed contact center.