Omnichannel VS Multichannel... what's the difference?
In the recent past, a multichannel approach was seen as the best way to engage a brand's audience. Casting the net as far as possible ensured that as many people as possible would come into contact with the brand's message, leading to an upturn of conversions and customer satisfaction.
Today, the buzzword du jour is omnichannel. Whilst multichannel is still important, omnichannel strategies go one step further to deliver the best possible experience to customers.
But aren't these two terms used to describe the same thing? Far from it!
It's important to understand exactly what the differences are between these two concepts, so you can use them to create the best experience for your customers.
If you want more info on how to create an omnichannel strategy, read our blog post here which gives 7 tips, real life case studies and statistics.
But for now, let's begin with the basics...
Let’s begin with some definitions.
First of all, a channel is the medium through which you communicate with your company. In terms of marketing this could be a website, a billboard, social media platforms, in store or even a product’s packaging. In terms of customer contact, this could be email, phone calls, web chat or video call.
A multichannel approach is when a company uses multiple channels to spread a message about their brand. The channels are separate and don’t interact with each other.
An omnichannel approach is different. An omnichannel approach is about integrating channels to create a seamless customer experience. Every channel will relate with each other, so a customer can switch across channels and receive the same brand experience.
Multichannel focuses on customer engagement, whereas omnichannel focuses on customer experience
The idea behind multichannel is to cast the net as widely as possible to maximise the number of people who come into contact with your brand. One of the key metrics of a multichannel approach is customer engagement. For example, on a social media channel, the main focus will be to grow the following or to increase likes, comments and shares.
On the other hand, omnichannel is about creating a consistent customer experience. The end goal isn’t about increasing the eyeballs on your brand, it’s about making sure that the people already engaging with your brand get an improved experience regardless of what channel they use.
Omnichannel is customer based, while multichannel is channel based
If we take retail as an example, an omnichannel approach is designed to make the shopping experience as easy for the customer as possible. The customer is put at the centre of the strategy, and everything works outwards from there. Omnichannel shopping experiences remove the friction from moving across touchpoints, making it easier for the customer to complete their online journey.
Multichannel is about increasing the number of channels available to customers, so that they have more choice in how they choose to contact you.
Now let’s look at the difference in terms of customer contact channels.
In an omnichannel customer service strategy, customers would be able to choose whichever type of contact channel that was available to them and know that they quality of the support they would receive would be the same.
Notice that I said quality of the support, not the support itself.
Customer contact channels are varied because customers need different types of support at different times, so some contact channels might be more appropriate for their query.
A multichannel strategy here would, again, simply refer to the number of channels available to them. However, with an omnichannel strategy. The customer could begin their query through one channel, and as required can switch the conversation across to another without the need to start all over again with a new again or have to repeat themselves.
For example, if a customer starts a web chat conversation on their phone, they can escalate the chat to a voice or video conversation at the click of a button.
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