What is omnichannel messaging? And why does it matter to you?

Omnichannel, omni-channel, omni channel. However you spell it, you might be here because you’re wondering what omnichannel messaging is all about. And how does it compare it multichannel messaging? Or crosschannel? More importantly, you need to know what it means for your business. In this blog, we are going to break it down for you and compare these different business messaging strategies, examine the landscape of unified communications that omnichannel exists in, and identify the most important points for you to take into consideration when deciding on your messaging strategy.

More channels, more problems?

Let’s first take a look at the suffix of the word – channel. A channel is simply one way that a consumer can contact your business. This could be email, a traditional phone call, a text or web/in-app chat. It could also be a social media channel such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Twitter DM or WeChat to name a few. Both the breadth of variety of these channels, and the functionality within them, is constantly evolving. As are your customer’s expectations of your communications.

Giving your customers access to use more than one of these channels is what is known as multichannel messaging. And it’s a good way to start your omnichannel journey. But by providing your customers with these gateways to your sales or customer service staff, by only adopting a multichannel approach, you can potentially be creating more problems for yourself.

The modern customer

The modern consumer is not a single channel user. With their friends and families, they switch seamlessly between their social media profiles and their private phone numbers and email addresses to communicate with one another. And they retain the context of those conversations no matter what channel they are using. For example, they can be talking to a friend in WhatsApp during the day. Later that evening, they then pick up the phone to carry on that conversation. They don’t need to restate everything that has been said on the other channel. Nor do they need to establish who’s calling. This is true even if they are switching devices, such as a desktop, laptop or tablet, to their smartphone device.

Today, customers expect the same thing of their brand experiences. They don’t want old-fashioned, 1-way communication with businesses. They expect 2-way, contextual conversations, on any channel of their choosing, to and from any device. What’s more, this process should be frictionless for them – as natural and hassle-free as texting their spouse. So how do you replicate this experience for your B2C or even B2B messaging?

The omni in omnichannel messaging

This is where the prefix of omni comes into play for omnichannel messaging. Think about where you have heard this before. Probably in the context of omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotence? Whilst we are not claiming that omnichannel is divine, it should still provide your business with an influential tool that empowers you and your staff with the knowledge of context, and enables you to communicate across an array of channels and devices.

Unified communications

The secret to omnichannel messaging compared to multichannel is that the data on your customers should reside in a centralised store. This means it can be accessed by any customer service rep, and once the customer has made themselves known, be applicable no matter the device or channel that is being used. A good omnichannel messaging provider allows your centralised store to have custom data fields that are relevant to your business and consumer base, use powerful webhooks that update this information in real-time to prevent disparate siloes of customer data, and even integrate with a CRM if required.

Compared to a multichannel messaging strategy, this means that data is kept in one place. It’s accessed through a single system to prevent uninformed conversations which equate to poor customer experiences. A bit like our example of ringing your friend to continue a conversation after talking to them the whole day on a messaging app, only this time you find they have no idea what you are referring to. Or worse, that they can’t even recall who you are. Replicating a contextual experience with your customers on the other hand, will lead to more positive outcomes than ever.

Advantages of omnichannel messaging

There are many advantages to adopting an omnichannel messaging strategy for your business compared to a traditional or multichannel one. We’ve touched on some, but here are a few of our favourites:

1- More touchpoints
By giving your customers more ways to get in contact that suit them, you are giving them more touch points to interact with your brand. In other words, more opportunities to sell, cross-sell, and up-sell, or provide superior customer service that will create higher lifetime values.

2- It’s more efficient
If your customer service agents can more quickly identify your customers and get access to their buying history or personal details, they will be able to more quickly handle enquiries, and more effectively serve your business.

3- Personalised communications generate more revenue
It’s been proven time and time again that customers respond more and more to personalised communications. The more personalised, the more likely they are to purchase from you. But you can only offer the level of personalisation that they now expect with a centralised store of data, so that they can be served bespoke experiences, inbound or outbound, no matter the channel they are using.

4- Conversational commerce puts consumers into a buying state
Having more conversational experiences with customers will inevitably become less formal and more in line with what customers expect. This level of informality will break down barriers with your customers, making your brand feel more trusted. The higher the feeling of trust and familiarity, the more prone they will be to hearing out the advantages of your products are services. In other words, the more likely they will be to buy.

Future-proofing your communications

Of course with any strategy that your business undertakes, there will be challenges to consider. With omnichannel messaging, the two main challenges that occur are a reconfiguration of data architecture, and keeping up with the speed of consumer expectation and quickly adopting new channels as they become available once you have committed to a model which centred around this. Both of these are realities that all businesses must face in an era of increasing customer experience, technology adaption, and sector competition. Fortunately, they are both also challenges that the right omnichannel messaging provider should be able to provide you with solutions for.

Want to futureproof your business communications with an omnichannel messaging strategy? Let us show you how easily it can be achieved with a demo today.

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