Difference Between Multichannel and Omni-channel Contact Centres

Channel diversification in a contact centre

Difference Between Multichannel and Omnichannel Contact Centres
Contact CentreInsights

Published: February 3, 2021

Anwesha Roy - UC Today

Anwesha Roy

There are two ways to go about channel diversification in a contact centre – multichannel or omni-channel. Multi, which literally translates to many, implies that your support function is now available across many channels. Omni, which means ‘all’, implies that the experience across all these channels will be consistent.

While multichannel might seem to require less effort and investment, omni-channel offers more value. That’s why 91% of contact centre professionals name omnichannel integration as one of their top three priorities. Here is how it differs from a multichannel contact centre.

Omni-channel Contact Centre Definition vs. Multichannel

An omni-channel contact centre can be defined as a customer support function (inbound) or a sales function (outbound) that operates across call, email, mobile app-based chat, website-based chat, and social media with data continuity across these platforms so that the customer never or rarely has to enter the same information twice.

In contrast, a multichannel contact centre is one where the customer support function (inbound) or a sales function (outbound) operates across call, email, mobile app-based chat, website-based chat, and social media, with agents specialising in a particular channel and looking after that channel’s interactions independent of customer interactions on other channels.

As you can tell, there are a number of points of difference between omni-channel and multichannel contact centres.

How Are Agent Experiences, Customer Experiences, and Technology Requirements Different in Omni-channel vs. Multichannel?

Agent Experiences

In an omni-channel contact centre, agents are highly skilled professionals, conversant in every channel’s best practices and familiar with the integrated customer data system (CDP) or customer relationship management (CRM) system that powers the ecosystem. They have exceptional communication skills as well as multitasking capabilities to keep pace with an omni-channel environment’s complexities.

Multichannel agents, on the other hand, are specialists. They may perform better than their omni-channel counterparts on one channel, but cannot switch seamlessly. They are less digitally savvy and on the average rank lower in terms of employability than omni-channel agents.

Customer Experiences

In an omni-channel contact centre, CX is unified across channels and platforms. Customers can move from one channel to another while continuing the same interaction. A query addressed across different channels counts as a singular query and will have the same NPS survey. Importantly, there is no need to repeat the same information to a bot or a live agent.

Multichannel contact centres offer greater flexibility to customers than traditional call centres, as it is now possible to choose from a variety of channels. But there is no data continuity between channels and they typically operate in silos, with the occasional holistic report.

Technology Requirements

Omni-channel contact centres require dedicated technologies like omni-channel routing, unified dashboards, unified presence technology, etc. These are usually integrated via the cloud to make the ecosystem easily scalable. Omni-channel contact centre technology operates on a single invoice, single-vendor model.

Multichannel contact centres, too, require dedicated technology – but there is a separate technology infrastructure for each channel. There may or may not be inter-channel integrations, and the organisation is likely to incur multiple invoices for the various licenses required.


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