Omnichannel versus Multichannel


3 minute read // Insights

Omnichannel and multi-channel: what’s the difference? We’re going to be elaborating on the differences between omnichannel and multi-channel. So let’s jump straight into it! So let’s start off with a few definitions.

The defintions

First of all, when we speak about channels what we mean is a medium through which a brand is able to communicate with its customers. So in terms of marketing a channel could be anything from a brand’s website, their physical stores, a billboard, or even the product’s packaging. In terms of customer contact, a channel could be anything from emails to phone calls, live chat, or video calling. So let’s move on to the definitions of multichannel and omnichannel. A multi-channel approach is when a company uses multiple channels to spread the message about its brand.

The channels are usually separate and don’t relate to one another. On the other hand, an omnichannel approach is about integrating channels with each other in order to provide a seamless customer experience. Every channel will be able to integrate and relate with one another so the customer is able to switch effortlessly between channels.

The first key difference

So the first key difference between multichannel and omnichannel is that multi-channel focuses on customer engagement whereas omnichannel focuses on customer experience. So the main purpose of a multi-channel approach is to cast the net as far and wide as possible so that you can maximize the number of people who can come into contact with your brand.

As such, one of the key metrics of a multi-channel approach is customer engagement.

For example on a social media channel, the main aim from a multi-channel perspective would be to increase followers likes comments, and shares. On the other hand, omnichannel is about creating a consistent customer experience. The end goal of an omnichannel approach isn’t about increasing the number of eyeballs your brand gets, it’s about engaging with the people who are already interacting with your brand to make sure they get a seamless and consistent improved customer experience, regardless of what channel they’re using.

And another one…

This all ties in with the next key difference: omnichannel is customer-focused whereas multi-channel is channel-focused.

If we take retail as an example, an omnichannel approach is designed to make the shopping experience as effortless and easy as possible. The customer is placed at the center of the strategy and everything works out from there. Omnichannel shopping experiences remove the friction from moving across different touchpoints, making it easier for the customer to complete their journey. On the other hand, multi-channel is all about increasing and maximizing the number of channels available to customers. It’s about increasing the number of channels available to customers so they can choose which channel they’d like to use to interact with or contact the brand.

Customer contact channels

So now let’s look at the differences when it comes to customer contact channels. In an omnichannel customer service strategy, the customer would be able to choose from whichever channel was available to them and know that the quality of the support they would receive would be the same across all channels. Notice that we said the quality of the support, not the support itself.

Customer contact channels are deliberately varied because the type of support a customer might need is dependent on the situation they’re in, so some channels might be more appropriate than others. A multi-channel approach here would again simply refer to the number of channels available to the customer.

For example, a customer might choose to phone a customer services agent to discuss their query. If they then wanted to start a new conversation over email, chances are with a multi-channel strategy they would then have to start right from the beginning all over again. With an omnichannel approach, the customer could start their query on one channel and if required they could move the conversation across to another without the need to start all over again. For example, if a customer strikes up a web chat conversation, they can easily escalate this call to a voice or video call at the click of a button.

So there we go guys, those are just some quick differences between omnichannel and multi-channel.

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