Anyone who has played Words with Friends knows that the game can be a little addictive. For those who’ve never played, it’s like a modern-day, online version of scrabble that challenges you to remember lesser-used vocabulary words, while making good use of letters like Z, X, Q and J. The game also reminds us that, while we might remember how to spell a word, we may not know its exact meaning?
The same can be said in today’s customer service world as professionals seem to need to know more buzzwords and acronyms than ever before. And there’s always new words that come along and create a buzz, and acronyms fighting to take hold. Added to this jumble of words and letters are many business-related terms that have become seemingly interchangeable, like IVR and self-service, and multichannel this, omnichannel that. But these words are not interchangeable – and it’s important to know how to sort through the alphabet soup of CX to be sure the lexicon you are using and repeating is exactly what you mean. (Hey, I just got 8 points for using the X in “lexicon”!)
In the customer experience space, we have many words that we hear people use interchangeably every day – and sometimes in error. In this blog, we’ll take a look at three commonly misunderstood words – multichannel, omnichannel and multimodal – and clarify each term’s meaning below:
- Multichannel: This is the term that is used most often, and is sometimes used in place of the other two terms. Multichannel is the ability to offer a choice of channels to customers – whether IVR, SMS, web, and email, for example.
- Multimodal: Similar to multichannel, multimodal (aka crosschannel) takes it a step further by offering a mix of channels in a single interaction. For example, starting the interaction via the phone for a voice call, sending an SMS with some information for the customer to read, while still on the phone, and maybe checking the web, and then reverting back to a phone interaction.
- Omnichannel: Omnichannel expands a multichannel and/or multimodal interaction by using multiple channels over a series of interactions with context. Think of a customer journey like on-boarding a new account. An example of how context moves with the journey would be if a customer starts an SMS conversation, then calls the company, and then chats with an agent, and even visits a retail location. The history is captured and the interaction flow is structured accordingly based on the customer perspective, combined with the ability to proactively engage the customer to provide support or close a sale.
Don’t mince your words when it comes to customer experience! To learn more, check out our latest ebook, Words with Colleagues: Definitions of Commonly Used Industry Terms. The eBook helps you cut through the clutter of buzzwords by sharing examples and case studies that show the subtle differences in key terms, giving you the confidence to make the right business case when it comes to delivering your company’s customer experience.