Omnichannel vs. Multichannel Customer Communications: Knowing the Difference and Understanding Your Needs
Ira Brooker September 21st, 2022
Consumers live in a fusion of the real and digital worlds. Effective communication programs meet these customers in both places, seamlessly engaging them across all communication channels in a synchronized journey towards brand loyalty. Companies seek to build emotional connections to customers who want to feel valued, and realize that such programs are no longer an option.
Companies and government organizations alike struggle to implement communication strategies, given the number of messages and documents they send, the myriad of technologies and channels available, individual consumer preferences, and multiple initiating systems on their side.
A single customer communication management solution across the organization is typically the best option, and that usually means choosing between omnichannel or multichannel communications. While those two words might look synonymous, there are some important differences between them. Let’s explore what those differences are, and how each one can impact your CCM efforts.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- What Is The Difference Between Omnichannel And Multichannel Customer Communications?
- What Are Omnichannel Communications?
- What Are the Benefits of an Omnichannel Approach?
- What Are Multichannel Communications?
- What Are the Benefits of a Multichannel Approach?
- Perfect Customer Communications with MHC Engage CX
What Is The Difference Between Omnichannel And Multichannel Customer Communications?
Omnichannel. Multichannel. Two of the biggest buzzwords in any industry today. Both provide organizations with ways to communicate with customers. While some might consider them to be interchangeable, they’re not. To get the most out of customer communications management software, knowing the difference between multichannel and omnichannel communications is paramount.
OMNICHANNEL – THE SWIMMING POOL PLATFORM
An omnichannel communications platform provides companies with significantly more flexibility in customer communications.
Whereas multichannel communications can be compared to a wagon wheel, omnichannel communications can be compared to an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
The swimming pool is filled with every communication channel – from email to social media and more. Since all of the channels are connected, it’s easy for customers to start on one channel and jump to another seamlessly.
Continuing on the example above, the customer receives the services upgrade email with the link. Instead of using the link, your customer decides they’d like to know more about the upgrade before agreeing, so they dial the company’s call center.
This is where the omnichannel communications platform shines. Once the phone call begins, the company representative can pull up all the customer’s information, including the email they were sent, and use this information to answer any questions they might have before agreeing to upgrade.
MULTICHANNEL – THE WAGON WHEEL PLATFORM
Many companies use a multichannel platform, thinking it’s an omnichannel platform. Multichannel communications allow organizations to deliver information to their customers based on their preferences. If they prefer to receive an invoice or bill in the mail, multichannel communications can do that. If they’d rather get that invoice via email, a multichannel approach can do that as well.
The best way to think about multichannel communications is to think of it as a wagon wheel. The outer band of the wheel is the customer, while the inner band is the company. Each spoke in the wheel represents a communication medium that the company can use to provide information to its customers – direct mail, email, social media, SMS/text messaging, even phone calls. The wheel is the company’s multichannel hub for communications.
For example, if a customer receives an email from a company inviting them to upgrade a service, chances are there’s a link for them to follow so they can upgrade online. However, if they wanted to contact the company’s call center or if they wanted to chat with someone on social media, the company employees might not know the details of the email the customer received. This is frustrating for customers and staff alike.
What Are Omnichannel Communications?
Omnichannel systems are platforms that deliver flawless communications optimized for any electronic device (phone, tablet, and PC) on the customers’ chosen channels, and according to their schedule. An ideal omnichannel customer communications platform gives customers complete flexibility in communication methods. That allows recipients to choose their preferred channels – be it traditional print, one or more electronic delivery channels, or a tailor-made combination of the two. This also enables them to transfer these conversations seamlessly across channels according to their needs.
What Are the Benefits of an Omnichannel Approach?
Taking an omnichannel approach to your communications helps to cut down on confusion as you connect with customers and keeps your branding and messaging consistent across all of your channels. Here are some of the ways an omnichannel communication strategy streamlines and centralizes the ways customers interact with your organization:
Continuity Of Conversation
Use one comprehensive customer communications management solution, rather than a hodgepodge of different solutions tackling individual issues, all trying to work together to create personalized communications. Using several platforms is both inefficient and more expensive, and it is far more difficult to align brand tone across several channels.
Send high-quality communications, consistent with the company’s brand voice, but that meet each customer’s unique needs. Create high-volume communications across all channels that adhere to and further the organization’s message while leveraging the language, tone, and customer knowledge that resonates with each individual recipient.
Compliance Across Channels
Empower business users to edit and approve communication templates and content and then centralize changes on all channels via omnichannel communications. Assign content fragments to the right people for development and approval. Enable oversight by internal experts (e.g. marketing, legal) to track, manage and approve communications. Route, approve, distribute, and store communications to guarantee and demonstrate compliance with branding standards and regulatory requirements.
Leverage omnichannel communications to uniformly apply current and approved corporate branding, logos, legal disclaimers and other content fragments to all communications—regardless of the message, initiating system or communication channel. Expose a seamless, consistent customer experience across all channels and company processes. Deploy a fully integrated platform to converse with customers that constantly re-evaluate options in a non-linear journey.
What Are Multichannel Communications?
Multi-channel communications systems are platforms that leverage unique channel characteristics in order to provide customers with satisfying and engaging experiences. While most businesses try to deliver the same experience in an omnichannel fashion, it is worth noting that channels have unique properties that must be truly understood and embraced in order to meet customer expectations.
What Are the Benefits of a Multichannel Approach?
Every enterprise business relies on multiple channels of communication, from paper documents to SMS messaging to live chat features. Each of those channels comes with its own specific requirements. A multichannel approach helps to keep those different requirements in mind while still maintaining consistency in customer conversations. Just a few of the benefits of a multichannel communication solution follow:
Enhanced Customer Experience
Omnichannel engagement is at the heart of any good customer communications management software. Giving customers the option to choose how they would like the company to contact them leads to a better customer experience, which helps improve customer relationships and, over time, leads to a steady increase in revenue. While personalization is an excellent advantage, this option must be scalable to the customer’s ever-changing needs. An omnichannel communication platform offers customers the flexibility to re-personalize the communication pattern and adapt it to their current needs. Moreover, regardless of their choice, customers can freely navigate through channels, all while receiving consistent and traceable information from the company.
Reduce Costs And Streamline Operations
Rebalancing the company’s communications strategy to use digital delivery when possible will result in the reduction of costs associated with printing and postal delivery. Communications are streamlined and can be delivered in real-time throughout the entire customer journey. This agile, on-demand, multi-channel communication strategy is not only more engaging but can also reduce the strain on resources when compared to more rigid batch processes that typically run at fixed intervals.
Consider how customers expect to interact on a tablet or other mobile device: they expect to use touch to make selections, type in information, and sign using their fingerprint. The same experience is not available on paper or over the phone, and is a key differentiator for the channel. When designing a multi-channel experience for customers, include electronic signatures for contracts and other critical documents on touch-enabled devices in order to provide a better experience. Better experiences are important for long-term engagement, especially when they happen early in the customer journey (for example, during on-boarding).
Engaged customers are the best customers: they spend more, they are excellent brand advocates, and they are more likely to try new products. Properly implemented multi-channel communications can increase revenue by delivering instant engagement with today’s always-connected customer. For example, organizations can leverage SMS/text messaging channels to engage their best customers with promotional codes that expire after a certain period. Choosing the right channel for the type of the message about to be delivered is key: omnichannel is less important in this example – as long as the customer receives the message in a timely manner and can act upon it. In many cases, marketers are looking to trigger impulse buys for which email or postal delivery are less efficient.
Perfect Customer Communications with
MHC Engage CX
Interacting with your customers is one of the most important elements of running a successful business. With the advanced functionality of MHC EngageCX, customer communications management has never been easier or more impactful. Understand user preferences, customize communications accordingly, and deliver those communications to customers via their preferred channels or devices. Our user-friendly visual design tool offers an easy way to build memorable communications with your valuable customers.
MHC’s CCM software helps companies engage customers with a single, cohesive platform across all communication channels. MHC’s application is a purpose-built, all-in-one omnichannel communications solution to track and consider past interactions, empower consumers with digital experience tools, and communicate with them via print, email, text messaging, online interactions and more. Our user-friendly visual design tool offers an easy way to build memorable communications and meaningful customer relationships.
GROW ALONG WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS: Account for your customers’ unique needs by using EngageCX to craft and deliver documents prioritizing convenience and impact. Gain insight into behavior with customer journey mapping and analytics.
AGILITY IN DEVELOPMENT: EngageCX is proudly built in-house, giving us the ability to seamlessly maintain technology, resolve issues, and upgrade functionality without relying on third-party solutions.
SELF-SERVICE FOR FLEXIBILITY: You want control over your processes, without having to engage other parties to assist. EngageCX gives you the agency to easily build, manage, and maintain your communications on your own.
UNIQUE SOLUTIONS FOR UNIQUE NEEDS: No two customers are alike. EngageCX allows you to produce and deliver communications personalized for tone, language, channel, and other preferences.
MHC Enables Stronger Customer Connections
Whether an omnichannel or multichannel approach makes more sense for your specific organization, MHC offers a uniquely flexible and personalized solution for managing high-volume customer communications. Our automated communications solutions help to ensure a consistent customer experience that strengthens relationships, increases compliance, and simplifies your workflow across every platform. Contact us today to schedule a free demonstration of EngageCX and see what a difference MHC can make in the way your organization communicates.