Omnichannel Contact Center: What It Is & How Companies Use It

May 22, 2024 13 min read

Joe Manna

Joe Manna

What is an omnichannel contact center?

Customers today expect to connect with businesses on their terms, through their preferred channels. Gone are the days of a single point of contact; omnichannel customer service is the new standard.

Traditional call centers, limited to phone support, often fail to meet these expectations. This is where omnichannel contact centers step in, offering a comprehensive solution for modern customer service.

Omnichannel contact center platforms help businesses provide a consistent and seamless customer experience, no matter how they choose to reach out.

In this guide, we’ll explain everything to know about omnichannel contact centers — what they are, key benefits, top features, and best practices for implementation. We’ll also briefly overview the top omnichannel contact center software on the market to pick from.

What Is an Omnichannel Contact Center?

An omnichannel contact center is a cloud-based customer service solution that unifies customer interactions across multiple service channels, such as phone calls, chats, emails, text messages, and social media. This allows customers to reach a company through their preferred method and have a seamless conversation, even if they switch between channels.

Omnichannel cloud contact centers go beyond simply offering multiple communication channels like a multi-channel approach.

For example, a customer can start a conversation via web chat, and then switch to a phone call with a customer service agent who has full visibility of the previous chat interaction.

This unified communications system benefits contact center agents with a complete customer history, improving efficiency and personalization. Customers benefit from a smooth and consistent experience regardless of the communication channel they choose.

Omnichannel customer experience example

Let’s say a customer is stuck with a tech issue. They browse self-service options but need further help. They start a web chat with a live agent, explain the problem, but then switch to a call, wanting to “talk to a real person.”

Here’s where omnichannel customer experience comes in. The call agent has everything: chat history, past interactions, and even what self-service options the customer tried. No need to repeat everything. The agent has a complete picture and can assist efficiently.

This seamless experience is what customers expect today. Research from McKinsey shows they use multiple channels (3-5!) to get things done, and 86% want effortless switching between channels. Omnichannel contact centers deliver just that.

Get a cloud contact center solution from Nextiva.

IVR, call recording, VoIP numbers, call routing, advanced reporting–integrated in ONE cloud platform.

Benefits of Omnichannel Contact Centers

According to Aberdeen Group, companies adopting an omnichannel strategy saw a 91% increase in customer retention year-over-year than those without! An omnichannel strategy offers many benefits for both businesses and their customers.

Integrating communication channels into a unified platform benefits both customers and businesses. Customers enjoy a frictionless experience, while businesses gain valuable insights to continuously improve and gain a competitive edge.

Key Features of Omnichannel Contact Center Software

Cloud-based contact center solutions simplify complex interactions by unifying all customer communication channels into a single platform.

When you streamline customer service tools, you help agents become more productive and effective in delivering exceptional customer experiences.

But where do you start when building out an omnichannel approach?

Here are eight must-have features to look for when choosing an omnichannel contact center software:

1) Cloud-based with a unified interface

An omnichannel strategy thrives when employees can effortlessly move between channels while maintaining customer history and context.

Nextiva cloud contact center

For this to happen, your contact center software needs an easy-to-use, intuitive interface that provides real-time data for each agent.

Look for these qualities:

2) Seamless integration between channels

Customer channel preferences continually evolve. An omnichannel contact center must integrate new channels rapidly without disrupting workflows.

Evaluate how a contact center handles integrations:

3) Customer insights render personalized experiences

Personalization is key to building customer loyalty. Some customers prefer self-service options, while others need direct assistance for complex issues. The more relevant data agents have, the better they can personalize each interaction.

Nextiva analytics

An omnichannel contact center should provide:

4) Intelligent routing of inbound requests

With multiple channels, proper request routing is crucial for a seamless experience.

Look for features like:

Omnichannel contact center software by Nextiva

5) Integrated data across the customer journey

To deliver true omnichannel experiences, you need full visibility into each customer’s journey across all touchpoints and channels. Look for:


Screenshot of an omnichannel contact center dashboard
An omnichannel contact center streamlines customer communications.

6) Self-service options

Empowering customers to find solutions independently improves overall satisfaction and reduces call volume for your agents. A robust self-service portal should include:

7) Performance management and reporting

Consolidated reporting and analytics provide deep insights into support team and agent performance, empowering data-driven decision-making. Essential analytics include:

Nextiva voice analytics

8) Enterprise-grade security and reliability

With all customer data and channels running through one platform, security and uptime are paramount. For example, Nextiva’s network has the industry’s highest uptime, which means you can be there for your customers.

Ensure the solution:

Top 5 Omnichannel Contact Center Software

Explore more contact center software.👇

Comparison of top omnichannel contact center software

SolutionWho It’s Best ForKey FeaturesPricing
NextivaBusinesses seeking an easy-to-use, all-in-one solutionCall recording CRM integration Live chat Email management Social media integration Advanced reporting & analyticsStarts at $50 per user per month
Genesys Cloud CXBusinesses needing a comprehensive and highly scalable contact center with advanced featuresWorkforce management Skills-based routing AI-powered self-service Speech analytics Customizable dashboardsStarts at $75 (can be expensive for smaller businesses)
Five9Large enterprises requiring a powerful, customizable solutionWFO integrations CTI integrationsStarts at $175 monthly (excludes Voice on the digital-only and includes only Voice on the base plans)
Zendesk SunshineBusinesses prioritizing a unified customer view across channels and leveraging existing CRM integrationsCRM data integration Agent workspace Multi-channel ticketing Reporting & analyticsStarts around $69/user/month (custom integrations may add cost)
Freshdesk Contact CenterSmall and medium businesses seeking an affordable and user-friendly contact center solutionTicketing system Live chat Call routing Reporting & AnalyticsStarts at around $59/user/month

Omnichannel vs. Multichannel Contact Centers

Multichannel contact centers support multiple communication channels, but customers have to start over when switching between channels as there is no seamless integration.

On the other hand, omnichannel contact centers provide a unified experience across all channels, with features like CRM integration, real-time customer data, and the ability for a single team to handle requests across all channels.

Omnichannel vs. Multichannel Contact Center (Comparison)

Here’s a quick comparison between a multichannel and omnichannel contact center.

FunctionalityMultichannel contact centerOmnichannel contact center
Supports multiple channels
Seamlessly switch between communication channels
CRM integration for relevant customer data
Real-time insights on customer activity
One team can handle requests across all channels

The key differences are:

Downsides of multichannel compared to omnichannel:

While multichannel supports multiple channels, an omnichannel approach is crucial for creating a seamless, personalized, and better customer experience across all touchpoints.

Call Center vs. Omnichannel Contact Center

Contact center is a broader term for a system that handles customer interactions across various communication channels like phone, email, chat, etc. It’s the new-age version of a call center.

Call centers are the traditional model, relying solely on phone calls for customer interactions. Agents answer calls, address inquiries, and resolve issues — all through voice communication.

Omnichannel contact centers, on the other hand, take a more comprehensive approach. They provide customer service through a variety of channels, including phone calls, email, live chat, social media, and more. This allows customers to reach out on their preferred platform, fostering convenience.

When choosing the better option, omnichannel contact centers generally reign supreme. They offer several advantages:

While call centers might suffice for businesses with a basic customer base, omnichannel solutions offer a more flexible and superior customer service experience.

Implementing an Omnichannel Contact Center

Planning and implementing an omnichannel contact center solution is a multi-faceted process that requires careful consideration of various factors.

Here’s a structured approach to help you navigate through the process:

✅ Assess business needs and goals

Thoroughly assess your business needs and goals.

Understand the nature of your customer interactions, the channels they prefer, and the desired level of service. Identify the pain points in your current customer support system and areas for improvement. This assessment will determine the appropriate omnichannel solution.

🎛 Evaluate technology and integration requirements

Omnichannel contact centers rely heavily on technology.

Evaluate the available solutions and their ability to integrate with your existing systems, such as CRM, ERP, and other business applications. Ensure that the chosen technology supports the channels you want to offer, including voice, video calls, email, chat, social media, and self-service options.

Contact Center Features

🔖 Develop an omnichannel strategy

Based on your business needs and technology requirements, develop a comprehensive omnichannel strategy.

Define the channels you want to offer, the level of integration between them, and the customer journey you envision. Determine how you will manage and route interactions across channels, ensuring a consistent and personalized customer experience.

📝 Plan for agent training and workforce management

Successful omnichannel contact centers have well-trained agents who can handle interactions across multiple channels.

Develop a comprehensive contact center training program that equips customer service agents with the necessary skills and knowledge to deliver consistent and high-quality service. Also, implement workforce management strategies to ensure proper staffing levels and efficient resource allocation.

💰Consider budget and ROI

Implementing an omnichannel contact center solution can be a significant investment.

Carefully evaluate the costs associated with technology, integration, training, and ongoing maintenance. Perform a cost-benefit analysis and calculate the potential return on investment (ROI) to justify the investment and ensure long-term viability.

📜 Develop a phased implementation plan

Implementing an omnichannel contact center is a complex undertaking, and it’s often advisable to adopt a phased approach.

Prioritize the channels and features based on their importance and impact, and roll out the solution in stages. This approach allows you to manage risks, gather feedback, and make necessary adjustments along the way.

📈 Continuously monitor and optimize

Implementing an omnichannel contact center is not a one-time event; it’s an ongoing process.

Continuously monitor the performance of your solution, gather customer feedback, and analyze key metrics to identify areas for improvement.

Embrace a culture of continuous optimization, making adjustments and enhancements as needed to ensure that your omnichannel strategy remains aligned with evolving customer expectations and business needs.

Omnichannel Contact Center Best Practices

Embracing an omnichannel strategy means defining a cohesive vision to optimize the customer service experience. This effort results in revisiting tools, workflow automation, and customer touchpoints.

Contact center functionality illustrated here by Nextiva

Let’s start by looking at some strategies and best practices as you move to a multichannel environment.

The Future of Customer Support Is Omnichannel

The days of a single point of contact are over. What matters most is to arm call center teams with the means to streamline multiple communication channels.

An omnichannel contact center makes it easy for customer support agents to provide exceptional customer satisfaction regardless of how customers contact them. While it may sound complicated, the results speak for themselves.

You don’t have to take on every digital channel at once. A phased approach lets you gracefully add more inbound contact methods to provide a seamless experience.

Considering that 86% of customers spend more money with companies that provide great experiences — you can’t afford to not use an omnichannel platform.

Scale up with an AI contact center.

The modern contact center has arrived. See how Nextiva helps you deliver the best customer experience at scale.

Joe Manna

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joe Manna

Joe Manna was a senior content marketing manager at Nextiva. He blends his marketing acumen and deep technical background to improve people's lives with technology. His expertise helps companies large and small serve more customers. He enjoys a rich iced latte and a non-fiction business book when he's not pressing words.

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