CRM Vertex attended the Microsoft Industry Summit this week and had the pleasure of hearing Paul Greenberg (referred to as the Godfather of CRM) speak about customer engagement. Paul is extremely knowledgeable on the subject and we enjoyed listening to him along with the thought leadership he provides. One of the things he discussed was Omni-channel support and engagement. It got us thinking a lot about that topic and how Omni-channel support compares to multi-channel support.
First, let’s look at multi-channel support – this is the concept that businesses should supply their customers with multiple avenues to engage – for example, phone, support, email, web self-service, etc. These channels should be available and monitored, and a customer should be able to choose one of these channels and interact with the business through the channel they have chosen.
Omni-channel engagement takes this a step further and says that a customer should be able to choose any of these channels at any time, move from one to the other in a fluid way, and without having to repeat themselves or start over. As an example, I may initiate a support request via a social channel, Twitter for example, and then login to a portal or live chat session to seamlessly continue with that request.
The interesting thing, and Paul touched on this in his presentation, is that the prefix “Omni” means “all”. Can any business truly provide all possible channels to their customers? With so many options, that may be difficult to do. Is Omni-channel support the right term? Paul doesn’t think so, and has even gone so far as to put out a challenge for someone to come up with a better term and he will send them $100!
Name aside, the idea of omni-channel engagement makes a lot of sense, and can truly be a differentiator for businesses. In reality though, businesses face many constraints – resources, technology, regulatory – that make it difficult to ever get to an “Omni” level. As we said, it is impossible for most businesses to ever truly monitor ALL available channels to their customers.
What is more realistic for most businesses is the idea of providing “Fluid Multi-Channel Support”. What we mean by that is most businesses should not try to focus on providing every possible channel to their customers – they will likely never be able to achieve that. Instead, they should focus on the channels that their business situation allows them to support – voice, email, web, live chat, social, texting, etc. – and make sure that the customer experience is seamless and fluid across the channels that they do support.
This is especially true in the small and medium business and mid-market space (SMB). These companies tend to have smaller IT budgets and less resources. In spite of that, the pressure the SMB space faces to provide this level of support is very real, and based on customer expectations, a requirement to stay relevant and not get left behind. While a large enterprise business may have the ability to get closer to a true “Omni” level, SMB companies are forced to make compromises. The idea of fluid multi-channel support is one that even the smallest businesses can adopt – they may only support a handful of channels, but if they can provide a seamless experience across those channels, they will be better at engaging their customers.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM and a CRM Vertex portal can immediately enable a business to offer fluid multi-channel support to their customers. By connecting the back-end CRM system with a mobile-friendly customer portal, a business can provide voice, email, web, mobile, community, and live chat support channels. The single data-source being Microsoft Dynamics CRM means that a customer can easily move from channel to channel in a seamless fashion, and internal customer service and support individuals have complete visibility of the customer interactions. Visit
Now all we have to do is find Paul’s email address so we can send him the term “Fluid Multi-Channel Engagement” to see if he likes our new term! Or maybe we can find him on Twitter? Or LinkedIn? We could probably find the phone number to his company and call him? One thing is for sure, we will find him one way or another.
by CRM Vertex