Multichannel, Multimedia, Omnichannel, Universal Queue – Eh?

August, 2014

These buzzwords all describe the same basic concept. The question here is: do these terms actually mean something useful, or are they just marketing baloney?

The buzzwords in the title here all describe the same basic concept – that contact centers can handle not just voice, but also email, web chat, SMS, social media, etc.

The question here is: do all these terms actually mean something useful, or are they just marketing baloney?

They each have 2 parts:

  1. How many are there? (multi/ omni/ universal)
  2. What are we counting? (media/ channel/ queue)

Let’s take a moment to dissect these terms and dispel the fog surrounding them.

1. All for one, or one for all?

First, some definitions:

  • Multi – more than one, many
  • Omni/ universal – infinite, without limits

Which one offers the best description? That depends on the context.

For a consumer contacting/ being contacted by a call center, there are definitely multiple separate channels. It’s all about choice; communicating via their preferred channel.

With customer service, that preference depends on both the context of the interaction, and the expected speed of result; if you want immediate attention, complain on social media; If you want an account balance, speak to IVR; if you don’t mind waiting for a complex answer, send an email; and if you don’t get what you expect, try another channel.

With outbound contacts to the consumer, a text reminder of a doctor’s appointment may be very welcome, while a call to a mobile from an IVR selling unwanted insurance may not.

Whichever, for the consumer, interaction channel is definitely a multiple choice question.

On the other hand, ‘omni/ universal’ implies an all-encompassing unity, with no differences. For consumers, this would make active choice irrelevant. So is channel selection ever ‘universal’ from the customer viewpoint? It has been said that the use of smart mobile devices reduces any difference between channels. For a consumer using a smart device, making a call or sending a text/ email are equally easy. But there is still a difference in the expectation of service level – e.g. email reply in 24-48 hours, phone call/ web chat with an agent within 5 mins. Because of this, channels on mobile devices are still very distinct in the mind of the consumer.

So for whom is ‘omni/ universal’ the best description? Well, vendors actually. By using this term, vendors are communicating the idea that no matter which channel is used, all communications travel through a single funnel to and from the call center, being assigned to agents regardless of media/ channel type. This feature has the major benefit of being able to assign agents freely according to demand, e.g. to meet service SLAs. But if agents are siloed – i.e. not free to be reassigned as necessary, as if often the case – any benefit of ‘omni/ universal’ is lost. (see our blog on siloed agents)

So, ‘omni/ universal’ is actually a marketing term to describe a vendor’s potential product benefit to call center buyers.

2. The medium is the message

The second portion of these terms is about communication method. Again, some definitions:

Media (plural of medium)

This refers to the type of communication the software must handle, e.g. voice, text, video. This is certainly relevant for software developers and IT staff. Each medium needs substantially different treatment. But this is not how channels are segregated in the mind of the consumer.

Queue

Again for software developers and IT staff, this describes the temporary storage of communication items to be dealt with. But for a consumer, the connotation is pretty negative, i.e. waiting. Think of a bus queue, or even a phone queue waiting for an agent. Feel your mood darkening? Not really the desired effect.

Channel

This probably best describes the experience of the consumer – the medium through which a message is transmitted (e.g. voice, web chat, SMS, email).

Pulling this all together, ‘multimedia’, ‘omnichannel’ and ‘universal queue’ are vendor-centric marketing terms; ‘multichannel’ is the only one that is consumer-centric.

So, which one should you use? That depends on the context of the conversation. If it is not consumer-focused, ‘multimedia’, ‘omnichannel’ and ‘universal queue’ are more or less interchangeable, with ‘omnichannel’ and ‘universal queue’ adding emphasis on agent blending.

But wherever the consumer is involved – and you could say they always are – ‘multichannel‘ makes the most sense.

What We Offer

Sytel Limited develops and supplies Softdial Contact Center® (SCC), offering multimedia, multichannel, fully blended cloud contact center solutions, for quick and easy deployment by partners offering CCaaS or enterprise users. All Sytel cloud components are secure, resilient and scale seamlessly from 10 agents to 10,000+, whether local, mobile or remote.

Flexible Contact Center Platform

Flexible Contact Center Platform

Softdial Contact Center™ - tightly integrated modules, designed to deliver at scale

Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)

Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)

Partners can run a functionally rich and flexible contact center stack in the cloud

Blended Media Desktop

Blended Media Desktop

Fully customisable, multi-channel, multi-session workspace

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Work Anywhere

Browser-based tools, no software installation required

Cloud Or On-Premise, Multi-Tenant

Cloud Or On-Premise, Multi-Tenant

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Customise, Localise, White Label

Design all user interfaces to individual requirements

Integration Via APIs

Integration Via APIs

'Swap out' components and integrate with 3rd party apps

World Class Development

World Class Development

Continuous evolution pushing technical boundaries

Capabilities

Softdial Contact Center™ (SCC) is designed to be flexible, extensible and scalable, integrating with any legacy equipment, and meeting the most complex of requirements.

All Media Types

All Media Types

Voice, chat, email, social, etc - fully integrated and blended

Agent Multi-Tasking

Agent Multi-Tasking

Work with multiple live contact sessions of any media type

Dynamic Workforce Management

Dynamic Workforce Management

Automated, ‘best available’ decisions to manage agents and balance work load, across all media types

Predictive Dialing

Predictive Dialing

Best-of-breed performance under compliance

Optimised Inbound Routing

Optimised Inbound Routing

Smart rules and 'best-available' decisions to drive great customer service

Agent Scripts

Agent Scripts

Help agents achieve and maintain excellence

Voice and Screen Recording

Voice and Screen Recording

See and hear exactly how agents are interacting

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Analytics and Data Feeds

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IVR, Bots & Conversational AI

IVR, Bots & Conversational AI

Design effective automated flows or integrate with 3rd party providers

Customer Journey Tracking

Customer Journey Tracking

Stored customer contact history, to aid routing and add context to conversations

Modules

A complete suite of tools, with unique flexibility to extend and swap out modules to deliver a tailored contact center solution for any environment.

Softdial One™

Softdial One™

Highly flexible unified web UI for agents, supervisors and administrators

Softdial Scripter™

Softdial Scripter™

Create complex process flow scripts for agents, IVR, chatbots and other applications

Sytel AI Dialer™

Sytel AI Dialer™

Best-of-breed predictive dialing under any compliance rules

Softdial Pathfinder™

Softdial Pathfinder™

Precise routing rules for 'best available' connection

Softdial Media Server™

Softdial Media Server™

Core telephony functions to manage all inbound/ outbound SIP calls

Softdial Reporter™ 5

Softdial Reporter™ 5

Fully customisable performance stats, charts and reports, across all channels

Softdial Publisher™

Softdial Publisher™

Comprehensive data output to build your own reports

Softdial Recording Monitor™

Softdial Recording Monitor™

Audio and screen recording of agent activity to ensure the highest standards

Softdial Campaign Manager™

Softdial Campaign Manager™

Comprehensive configuration and control for outbound campaigns

Softdial Repository™

Softdial Repository™

Central storage and configuration of common resources

Sytel Global Compliance™

Sytel Global Compliance™

Flexible 'no contact' rules to protect contact center and consumer

Markets

Performance and efficiency for a wide range of business applications

Customer Service

Customer Service

Connect quickly to well equipped agents

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Sales & Telemarketing

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Healthcare

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Market Research

Market Research

Best-of-breed predictive dialing with CATI integration

Collections

Collections

Automated inbound/ outbound blending integrated with any debt management app