What’s the Difference Between Channel, Multichannel and Omnichannel Support?

We live in a Golden Era for customer support. Consumers now have more options than ever before to communicate with businesses that provide the products and services they love - or hate. Businesses now have more opportunities to elevate customer experiences (CX) and support as a result. Significant rewards await organizations that do so: increased market share, hearts of mind and revenue!

Modern consumers are savvy; they know what your competition's support offerings. If your organization exceeds what competitors offer, it has an excellent chance to turn ordinary consumers into lifelong brand advocates. Failure to provide the customer support they expect risks bad word-of-mouth that can spread like wildfire across social media.

The first step in building a customer experience strategy is understanding the locations that businesses connect with customers. This article explains the difference between single channel, multichannel and omnichannel support.

Channel Support  -

Channel support is a technological means whereby customers can communicate with a business to get answers to questions, voice concerns and receive assistance. TaskUs offers five individual support channels: voice (AKA telephony), chatemailSMS text and social media.

Providing a single support channel for customers is a great start toward providing quality customer care. It demonstrates an openness to listen and engage in a two-way dialogue.

Dissatisfied customers will seek out your competitors when concerns and questions are left unresolved to their satisfaction. In fact, 93% of customers will switch brands at least once per one due to poor customer service.

Moreover, customer defection is expensive; it can cost five times more to acquire a new consumer than to protect an existing one. Having a support channel to communicate with a customer who is experiencing a problem provides the added benefit of being a "last line of defense" to resolve an issue before the customer decides to switch to a competitor.

Multichannel Support -

Multichannel support is a set of two or more individual support channels that a business utilizes to communicate with end-users in its care.

A key learning of marketing studies is segmentation - the practice of dividing a market or population into smaller slices. It is critical for an organization's long-term health to do so. Offering multichannel support provides an easy way to capture those segments and honor the diversity in how they prefer to communicate with a business to receive support.

Consider: Voice support is the number one support channel overall. Generational segmentation reveals that it is only the number one choice for the Silent Generation (55.6%), Baby Boomers (59.6%) and Generation X (46.3%). For Millennials, it comes in fourth place (29.4%) behind other support channels such as social media and SMS text!

Providing multichannel support helps to ensure that your organization will be able to meet the distinct needs and wants of a highly differentiated customer base.

Omnichannel Support -

Omnichannel support is a descriptive term related to support channels. Omnichannel's root – "omni" – comes from the Latin word "omnis," meaning "all." Consequently, omnichannel support elevates multichannel support to greater heights and utilizes all support channels available. Further, a customer's record is maintained across channels. A user can contact an agent - any agent - in the future and not need to start from scratch.

Omnichannel support fosters the ability to provide the right communication channel for the right customer at the most convenient moment for that targeted user. As the example for multichannel support showed, Millennials are shifting away from traditional support channels such as voice and embracing newer means of support.

However, it would be ill-advised to ignore voice support because of Baby Boomers and Generation X's purchasing power. The channel is important to them. Caution: Despite common misperception, Millennials are no longer the children. Its oldest members are already 35! As they grow older, so too will their purchasing power. Offering omnichannel support today, rather than later on, will help your organization to cement itself into their minds, foster brand loyalty and differentiate from competitors before it is too late.

Providing customer support is no longer a luxury that organization can do without in today's world. Whether offered as a single channel, multichannel or omnichannel, support is a foundational pillar of customer care that helps to enable an organization to connect with its consumers and work toward a financially secure future.

References:

1. “Customer Care Evolution.” (n.d.): n. pag. PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, 2015. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

2. Meehan, Natalie. “How to Create an Omnichannel Customer Service Strategy.” Brandwatch. Brandwatch, 24 Sept. 2015. Web. 26 Nov. 2016.

3. Jones, Ivor. “The Real Cost of Losing Customers.” ThinkSales. ThinkSales Corporation (Pty) Ltd, 2016. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.

4. “A Guide to Multi-Channel Customer Support.” (n.d.): n. pag. Zendesk, 2015. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.

Bryce Maddock

CEO and Founder
January 26, 2017