Multichannel or Omnichannel: How Do You Best Serve Your Customers?

Delivering effective customer service means tailoring to the needs of the customer. In this day and age, companies are poised to reach more customers than ever before with the use of multichannel strategies, which allow consumers to make transactions through the channel of their choice such as chat, SMS, or social media, to name a few. Consumers continue to show an increasing demand for non-voice channels to meet their customer service needs, so companies which adopt multiple channels for customer engagement are well suited for attracting and retaining clients.

In the past year, however, businesses have increasingly fine-tuned their customer engagement strategies by adopting an omnichannel strategy—a subtle yet critical shift from multichannel engagement. While multichannels allow customers to simply make contact with a company over multiple touch points, the company may not have optimized the customer experience across all devices (for example, smartphones, laptops, and tablets) or focused on delivering a truly seamless message across these channels.

The omnichannel strategy, on the other hand, delivers exactly that. This method of customer engagement adopts the perspective of the customer by delivering a seamless and consistent message across all channels, allowing a customer to begin a transaction in one channel or on one device and move to another fluidly without losing a quality customer service experience. While companies which use this approach also use multiple channels to engage their customers, they take the additional steps of ensuring consistency across channels at all times while always considering which device the customer may be using. For example, a company which offers a mobile version of its website would ensure that this version is fully accessible, has the same visual appearance as the website, and delivers the same messages to the customer while enabling exactly the same client interactions (such as purchasing or contacting a customer service agent, for example) that are available on the website.

Google trends indicates that there was a steady surge in searches for the word “omnichannel” between 2013 and 2014, showing a growing predilection toward the use of this newer customer engagement strategy.

Furthermore, an Aberdeen Group report demonstrates the value of employing an omnichannel strategy to grow one’s business, allowing businesses to achieve an 89% customer retention rate while growing annual company revenue by 9.5% year after year.

When businesses employ an omnichannel customer engagement strategy, several benefits are reaped over the use of a basic multichannel strategy. By delivering a consistent message across all channels, one can assume that the customer will more easily access the information needed and therefore increase customer satisfaction. This positive experience then naturally leads to better sales. In addition, businesses are in a position to better collect data from their customers by tracking how and when they interact across channels, providing excellent insight from which companies may develop best practices. Lastly, employees in retail settings are better prepared to work efficiently with clients when armed with devices such as tablets which provide quick and easy access to customer data.

Regardless of the customer engagement strategy used, taking advantage of the wealth of business opportunities afforded by multichannel and omnichannel practices is key to keeping customers satisfied and making your business grow.

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