So you think you’re omnichannel?

With Apple Business Chat in beta, WhatsApp for enterprise on the horizon and Google Chat/RCS tugging at everyone’s trouser legs, businesses are looking toward their customer engagement platforms to connect them to all the world’s messaging channels.

For software makers, more “must-have” channels means more technical overhead and complexity. But what if connecting to these channels is the easy part?

Multichannel vs. omnichannel

In his latest column for Enterprise Connect’s No Jitter, Smooch CEO Warren Levitan breaks down the difference between “multichannel” and “omnichannel,” arguing that only truly omnichannel software will win in the age of business messaging:

Multichannel means being wherever your customers are, whether that's the social chat apps, the web, or wherever else people hang out. That's quickly becoming table stakes. Omnichannel means providing a consistent communications journey for your customers, one where the conversation history and context travels with them from channel to channel.

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Breaking down conversation silos 🚜

If businesses are empowered to chat with customers everywhere but aren’t able to connect the dots between conversations on different channels, they actually risk providing a negative customer experience:

Such multichannel solutions lead to conversation silos within the enterprise, frustrating the consumer and limiting a business' ability to have a holistic view of the consumer.

Read Warren’s piece to find out how you can help businesses solve The Omnichannel Dilemma.

Nothing personal

In a webinar with Sparkcentral this week, Forrester analyst Ian Jacobs makes a key distinction between two terms that often get confused in customer experience circles: “personal” and “personalized.”

“Personal” means friendly, natural or human. Even in a business context messaging feels inherently personal because it's how we communicate with friends and family — typos, emojis and all.

“Personalization” is what nearly every business is promising these days, though it’s usually more of an aspiration than a reality.

Messaging can play an important role here too since every conversation surfaces a treasure trove of context (in the form of both chat history and metadata) that can be used to inform subsequent interactions.

Stepping into the customer’s shoes 👟

Speaking to CMO.com, Zappos’ head of customer research, Alex Genov, explains how the online shoe retailer approaches personalization:

What a lot of retailers are talking about is best guess recommendations, and using a lot of algorithms and AI,” Genov says. “But if you really think about it from a person perspective, a lot of those recommendations don’t make a lot of sense.

Instead, Zappos tries to unpack the customer's intent. So if they’re ordering shoes for a first date, instead of recommending a second pair of similar shoes, they might offer some snazzy accessories to suit the occasion.

Genov’s focus, according to the article, is figuring out how to replicate the quality of Zappos’ phone support on its digital channels, “particularly through mobile devices.” 🤔

The emoji philosopher

Ludwig Wittgenstein was one of the greatest minds of the 20th century. A decorated soldier who wrote his own dictionary, he proclaimed to have solved humankind’s biggest philosophical quandaries by age 29.

He also may have invented one of the touchstones of modern life and messaging: the emoji.

Pompous and stately 🧐

According to Quartz, Wittgenstein emphasized the impact of pictorial over linguistic communication. In 1938, he wrote that he could convey “an innumerable number of expressions by four strokes:”

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“Such words as ‘pompous’ and ‘stately’ could be expressed by faces,” said Wittgenstein. “Doing this, our descriptions would be much more flexible and various than they are as expressed by adjectives.”

Wittgenstein imagined people sketching their own drawings rather than using standardized icons like we find on our emoji keyboards today, the article notes.

But with emojis infusing our conversations with friends, family, colleagues and customers alike, I think it’s fair to say the philosopher was on to something.