Omnichannel vs. multichannel customer support: Which one is best for your business?

omnichannel vs multichannel customer support

Even in the early days of barter transactions, customer support had its role as buyers needed customizations and clarifications. Acting as an informal obligation, providing customer support helped sellers build trust and lasting relationships with their buyers and made them stand out among others. Though the methods, medium, tools, and scale of customer support have changed, the benefits sellers get remain the same and are still invaluable.

Channels through which customers can contact support teams have multiplied in this evolution, with the internet and social media coming into play. Businesses, too, have upped their ante by providing omnichannel or multichannel support systems.

In this article, we'll discuss what omnichannel and multichannel support is and which you should choose for your business to provide the best support experience to your customers.

Table of contents:

What is multichannel customer support?

Multichannel customer support is when customers can contact businesses through more than two modes of communication where the businesses are also present: telephony, SMS, email, and any social media channels like WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and more. The businesses will be able to attend to the customers and provide support.

An example of multichannel customer support 

Let’s say you're a frequent buyer using an ecommerce platform for your electronics purchases. If you need to contact the platform’s support team regarding payment failure, delayed delivery, missing items, or a buggy application, you can reach out to them via any available channels, like telephony, SMS, email, or any of their social media handles. Maybe you prefer to chat as you're facing hanging issues from their Instagram page, and they reply to resolve your issue.

What is omnichannel customer support

Omnichannel customer support is similar to multichannel. Customers can reach out to businesses via any available channels, and the businesses can provide support.

Sounds like the same thing? There’s a key difference here.

An example of omnichannel customer support 

Going back to the same ecommerce example, it turns out the support team has to do a remote assist session to check why the app is hanging.

For multichannel support, there'll be no integration between the communication channels. You have to end the Instagram chat session and initiate a remote assist session from within the application. You have to convey your issue to the support team again from the beginning, and they'll do a remote assist session to resolve the issue.

If they're providing omnichannel customer support, the conversation you had with the team on their Instagram page will also be reflected on the in-app chat. Their support team will be able to understand the issue you're facing and initiate a remote assist session without the need for you to explain your query again.

The difference between omnichannel and multichannel customer support

The channels are integrated in the omnichannel support system to form a cohesive network. So, the communication between the customer and the business can be moved between platforms, and the conversation won’t be interrupted. Businesses can provide seamless support, and the customers will get an engaging experience.

In multichannel support, customers can reach out to businesses via any channel, but it'll be isolated, and there won’t be any integration between the channels. Communication can’t be moved from one platform to another. If it gets interrupted, the conversation has to be restarted again.

Which should you pick for your business? Omnichannel vs. multichannel

Omnichannel customer support offers a plethora of benefits compared with multichannel, including:

  • Convenience for customers because they can switch between channels without losing out on conversations.

  • Instant response and faster resolution because the channels are interlinked.

  • A better customer engagement experience.

  • Increased loyalty among customers so they remain with the business.

  • Multiple options to reach customers.

Related resources:

What is omnichannel customer service?

omnichannel customer service

Because it allows integration between channels, omnichannel might sound like the way to go for customer support . But when you're planning to incorporate the system into your business's support operation, there are other factors you should consider.

With convenience and a better engagement experience, omnichannel has a complex implementation because all of your channels must be integrated. It translates into buying expensive tools or investing in more resources to take care of the omnichannel system yourself.

If you're a startup/ SMB:  it wouldn't be financially viable to acquire expensive tools or increase headcount. Choosing multichannel customer support will reduce their operational costs.

Does that mean businesses should never go for omnichannel? Suppose they're catering to people across the globe who prefer to use different channels for their communication. 

For example, in China and Japan, WeChat and Line are the primary communication channels compared to the rest of the world, whereas WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger owns scattered shares and are handling a massive volume of queries. In that case, businesses may prefer omnichannel because the system's efficiency will balance the cost increase. If not, sticking with multichannel will be fine.

Enterprises, too, can choose multichannel or omnichannel based on their usage, the demography they cater to, and ultimately based on their customers' expectations.

Zoho SalesIQ, the best multichannel platform for your business

Zoho SalesIQ, the live chat/chatbot solution, is a multichannel platform that supports chat and telephony by default. When integrating SalesIQ with Zoho Desk, support via mail can also be provided. On the instant messaging front, SalesIQ can now be integrated with all the major channels, such as WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Line, and WeChat.

In addition to integrating the platforms, SalesIQ's powerful chatbots (Both the codeless bot and the Answer Bot, our AI bot) can be configured and deployed to all the channels for instant and better engagement with prospects and customers.

If you're a startup or an SMB trying to run your support operations efficiently via channels, SalesIQ would be the perfect choice. It is easy to implement as it is simple as plug and play and cost-efficient. It doesn't carry the complexities of an omnichannel system and would allow you to handle a huge volume of queries seamlessly without operational difficulties.

Would you like to get a hands-on experience? Sign up now and see it for yourself.


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