Omnichannel is one of those words everyone uses, but few use correctly. It’s not another word for multichannel. It’s a different state of existence.
In our experience, multichannel is the ability to interact with customers across many different channels, but not necessarily in a cohesive fashion. As new channels become available, they are “bolted on” to existing customer experience infrastructure such as CRM or customer support systems. Too frequently, the management of these channels becomes siloed (web versus in-store sales, for example). The effect of this from the customer experience standpoint can be disjointed and jarring. For example, the resolution of an issue following a customer conversation with an associate in the contact center may not be reflected when the customer goes online or into a store.
Yet the ability to offer multichannel service experience is table stakes for today’s business. If you’re not available in the channels where customers want you to be, you cease to be relevant. And as we move further into a digitally driven ecosystem, multichannel won’t cut it for much longer.