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Former Member

"Omnichannel" is a relatively new term that's being dropped into more and more conversations about modern contact centers, customer experience, and customer service excellence. As with any new business buzz phrase, there's bound to be some confusion about its definition. Today's quick question is here to clear the air about what "omnichannel customer service" really means.

Omnichannel and multichannel mean different things.

Multi comes from the Latin multus, meaning many or more than one. Omni comes from the Latin omnis and it generally means everywhere at once. So, if your customer service reps can communicate with customers in multiple places--say phone and email--you offer multichannel customer service. If your customer service reps can communicate with customers in multiple places, while providing customers with a unified, all-knowing experience, you offer omnichannel customer service. Multichannel customer service is sometimes comprehensive, but always siloed. Omnichannel customer service is always comprehensive and always unified. If I am your customer, I want to feel like you can hold up your end of the conversation with me, regardless of how many different reps I talk to and how often I switch that conversation from a phone call to an online chat to an in-person store.

Here's the quick answer to "What is omnichannel customer service?"

Omnichannel customer service is the unification of multiple customer-facing experiences into one seamless service experience.

Unfortunately, there is still the need for some unification around the term itself. So you'll see omnichannel customer service, omni-channel customer service and omni channel customer service. All are correct and fine to use, as long as you pick one usage rule for your organization and use it consistently. Consistency, after all, is a must for customer service excellence.


Amy Moore writes about how marketing, sales, and customer service professionals can use storytelling techniques to better engage their customers. Follow Amy on Twitter @moore_words.

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