Multichannel and omnichannel contact centres: the differences explained – part 1

15th Jan, 2018
Read time: 2 minutes

There’s plenty of confusion about multichannel and omnichannel contact centres. These terms relate to different methods of handling inbound enquiries from the public. Yet people often confuse the two words.

There’s also a common belief that omnichannel is the ideal set-up for every contact centre. But that’s not always the case. In this blog post, we clarify the differences between the two approaches. And in part 2 of this blog post, we’ll answer some of your most common questions…

An introduction to multichannel

You can think of a multichannel contact centre like a car showroom. The sales, servicing and parts departments all work together in one building. They deal with the same product ranges, and the same customers. Yet each team has a unique way of working, a different kind of customer database and may not talk to each other.

Most businesses have more than one way for people to get in touch. They might have a phone number, email address, live web chat and a Twitter feed. At its simplest, this is an example of a multichannel business. But in many companies, transactions on each channel aren’t combined into one system. Emails are often managed using Outlook, with tweets handled through a web browser. Most ACDs (Automatic Call Distribution systems) bring different channels together into one system. Each channel is still handled separately, though. This gives agents a top-down overview of customer interactions. It also means they can offer help via any available method of communication. A queue builds up for each channel in chronological order. Managers assign agents to input streams based on their skills. It’s a tried and tested method with many advocates.

The omnichannel difference

Omnichannel contact centre solutions take this concept a step further. They bring every input medium into a single interface. Every text, email, call and social media message is within the same view. It’s also within a single queue, with data entered and stored in one desktop window.

A holistic view gives more information to managers about enquiry levels. It also gives agents the best chance to resolve queries at the first attempt. A single queue allows software to direct transactions to available agents more efficiently. Consolidated reporting means agents don’t need to swap between interfaces. Doing so takes time, is less efficient and creates data siloes.

Multi vs Omni – which is best?

Omnichannel remains a hot topic where CX is concerned. And of course it’s high on the agenda for Netcall, too. But for us the real driver has been developing a solution tailored to business needs whether that’s multichannel or omnichannel. So we’ve put a big focus on this for our latest platform release.

Our new Liberty ContactCentre delivers advanced omnichannel capability with every customer enquiry in one place. But ultimately we want you to control how you run your contact centre. We’re on hand to offer guidance if you need it, but the choice is yours.

You might be ready to make the leap to omnichannel CX. Or you could be happy with a multichannel set-up. Either way, we’ve designed Liberty ContactCentre to suit your needs. Discover how to design your ideal contact centre set-up by visiting our free builder tool here.

There are many reasons why an omnichannel approach may not be ideal for your business. In part 2 of this blog post, we’ll explain why multichannel suits some organisations, while omnichannel is best for others.

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