“Multi-channel communication” is the 21st century version of multimedia communication for the contact center. Or is it? In fact, I think it is a potentially confusing term depending on who the audience is and their perspective.
According to dictionary.com, the noun has many definitions, including several that are relevant to contact centers:
- a route through which anything passes or progresses
- the specific, prescribed, or official course or means of communication
- a means of access
To those in the corporate trenches, a “channel” can be:
- a marketing channel – meaning the way in which we deliver a message to a customer or prospect
- a communication channel for customer interactions through the contact center – meaning things like voice calls, email, chat
- a sales and/or delivery channel – meaning a branch or storefront, the web, the contact center and the associated fulfillment mechanisms
Therefore, “Multi-channel communication” invokes all kinds of possibilities. In the contact center, we communicate over many channels, we are a channel, and we need to be in tune to all the channels our company uses to engage our customers. [It kind of reminds me of one of my favorite words – “kiwi” – because it can be a bird, a person (a New Zealander), or a fruit!] The challenge is that “channel” is a hot buzz word that we and others are flinging around, and probably will for the next few years as these various versions of “multi-channel” mature and grow. So be careful how you use it, consider your audience, and be clear in your use of the term. And we’ll try to do the same.