Multi-Channel vs Omni-ChannelDo you have a multi-channel or an omni-channel customer engagement strategy? Do you know the differences between the two? It’s not just a “tom-a-to” / “tom-aw-to” situation. Almost every day, I see companies confused as they come across these two terms while trying to adopt best practices for customer interactions across different touch-points. Though the terms themselves seem only subtlety different, their meanings and resulting strategies go down two distinctly different paths. For companies to get the best results out of multi-channel and omni-channel best practices, it takes a clear understanding of these terms.

  • Multi-channel: This term refers to companies using multiple channels (e.g. social media, web and email) to engage their customers. Companies with this approach are adopting two or more channels to engage their customers, however, they are not necessarily focused on delivering a seamless / consistent message across multiple touch-points. Furthermore, these programs don’t necessarily factor in optimizing the customer experience based on the different devices (e.g. smartphones, tablets and laptops) clients use to interact with the business.
  • Omni-channel: While companies using this approach also use multiple channels to engage their customers they distinguish themselves through two additional factors; consistency and focus on devices involved within client interactions. These businesses are diligent to ensure that their customers receive the same experience and message through different channels and devices involved within their interactions with the firm. For example, a company that provides customers with the ability to engage it through a mobile app, social media portal and website would be focused to ensure that the look and feel as well as the messages they receive across each touch-point are seamless.

Now that we’ve clarified the distinctions between the two terms, what’s the overall impact? In my Omni-Channel Customer Care research, the data shows that companies with well-defined omni-channel customer experience management (CEM) programs achieve a 91% higher year-over-year increase in customer retention rate on average, compared to organizations without omni-channel programs. These organizations also average a 3.4% increase in customer lifetime value, while those without omni-channel programs actually diminish customer lifetime value by .7% year-over-year.

In the video below, I discuss some of these omni-channel intricacies in more detail, but what are your own experiences with multi-channel and omni-channel customer experience management? Please share your insights in the comments at the bottom of the page.