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Omnichannel communication guide: Definition, benefits, and tips

Fatima Puri
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It can be tricky to create an omnichannel experience from scratch since it involves many moving parts. In this guide, we’ll break down what the definition is, why it's important, and how you can start one on your own. As a result, you'll retain happier customers who are more likely to return for repeat purchases, earning you more revenue in the long run.

What is omnichannel communication?

Omnichannel communication uses multiple channels (i.e., voice, chat, SMS, etc.) to connect with customers and seamlessly deliver a cohesive customer experience.

Another way to think about omnichannel communication is that it’s a way to move your customers through the buyer journey by using each channel to transition them from one stage to the next smoothly.

The difference between omnichannel vs. multichannel 

Omnichannel and multichannel communication are often confused since both methods use multiple communication channels to interact with customers. 

The main difference between omnichannel and multichannel communication is that the first focuses on integrating channels to create a more robust customer experience. The second is to fulfill customer needs with little to no connection between the channels.

multichannel vs. omnichannel comparison graphic
How channels integrate in a multichannel and omnichannel experience.

The chart below breaks down the key differences between omnichannel and multichannel communication.

omnichannel vs. multichannel comparison chart
A comparison chart between omnichannel and multichannel.

Why is omnichannel communication important?

Customer experience is more dynamic than previous years, which means you need to have different channels to fulfill various customer needs. Because omnichannel communication focuses on improving the customer experience, it’s critical to understand what channels customers want to use, how they want to use them, and when a specific channel is appropriate.

A study conducted by Zendesk found that 87 percent of customers expect brands to focus more on creating a seamless experience.

That means if a prospective customer contacts you on one channel, you can follow up on another for a continued experience that best serves the customer’s needs. For example, you can start a customer return via a phone call, send return details by email, and share a CSAT survey through text. The channels integrate to ensure customers have a seamless experience. 

How to create an omnichannel communication experience

Starting an omnichannel communication experience can be overwhelming since there are multiple moving parts. Following these tasks will help you begin an incredible journey for your customers with more ease.

1. Prioritize what channels you want to use and how they’ll integrate

To figure out what communication channel you want to use, you must assess which channels your customers use. For example, suppose credibility is a large part of your business (like home services or consumer goods). In that case, having a social media channel or presence on popular review sites is essential to your customers. If your customers aren’t using a channel, there isn’t much of a point in pursuing it. 

Here are the most common communication channels included in an omnichannel experience:

  • A website
  • Brick and mortar stores
  • Phone
  • Business SMS
  • Email marketing 
  • Social media
  • Reviews websites
  • Other customer resources (i.e., a Help Center)

When deciding what communication channels to include in your omnichannel experience, take the time to understand how the channels will interact with each other. Look for ways to integrate your channels so everything is in one place and your data is centralized for easy access.

2. Map your customer journey 

Once you figure out what channels your customers use, you need to understand how they use each channel and how it fits in their buying journey to serve them better. Tracking your customer journey can also help you anticipate customer needs to fill in the gaps of any channel you’re missing. 

For example, suppose you notice many of your customers use text messaging and want to communicate with your business via text for a quicker response time or in place of a phone call. In that case, you can look into implementing a business texting software to fulfill that need.

Taking the time to map your customer journey will help you better understand how each channel fits together in the grand scheme of things.

3. Understand how much your team can handle

You should choose your channels based on the demographic of your customers, industry, business goals, and the capabilities of your team. 

You can launch every channel under the moon, but if your team cannot handle the workload, it will affect the service you give your customers. Prioritize channels that mean the most to your customers, so your team can focus on delivering quality service. Remember, it’s better to be a master of one channel than mediocre at multiple channels. 

4. Align your messaging

While individual communication channels will have slightly different messaging depending on what the platform allows (i.e., word count, images, personalization, etc.), your overall communication across channels should have a similar brand voice and cater to the same purpose.

One point of omnichannel communication is to align all communication channels for a cohesive customer experience, so your messaging and branding should also be similar across all channels. Creating an internal style and brand guideline can help your writers and designers stick to a brand voice and image. 

5. Organize conversations with a customer relationship management tool (CRM)

With so many channels, you want all of your customer conversations in one place, so it’s easier to keep track of them all—that’s why you need a CRM to centralize all communication channels. 

A CRM can help you stay on top of customer support needs efficiently and quickly. But to do that, you need to find a CRM that integrates with all of your channels. When implementing a new medium, ensure it integrates into your CRM to avoid managing a siloed channel.

Another perk of using a CRM is that it gathers all of your data and analytics in one place, making it easier to implement feedback and review areas of improvement. 

The bottom line

The goal of creating an omnichannel communication experience is to have a seamless flow from one channel to the next. Being strategic in how you handle each channel and where it fits in the customer journey will help you puzzle the pieces together for an exceptional experience.

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