70% of companies compete based on customer experience (CX). In order to stay ahead of competitors, organizations must adopt a channel strategy that meets customer expectations, and provides the best in CX. Over the last few years, omni-channel has been considered the pinnacle of channel strategies in the CX industry, but does omni-channel still meet customer expectations? In time, CX leaders will need to switch to a new strategy – most likely a channel-less one. But what does it mean to be channel-less, and how will going channel-less improve the customer experience?
A channel-less strategy is inherently similar to an omni-channel strategy in both infrastructure and driving factors. Multiple customer service channels are integrated with one central customer data system. This gives organizations a complete 360° view of the customer, including relevant details and history, across every touchpoint and interaction. As such, organizations are able to maintain a single fluid conversation, and deliver seamless CX across all channels. Regardless of which channel customers start on, or if they switch between channels, they still receive the same standard of CX.
The key difference is that a channel-less strategy dismisses the concept of channels entirely to make customer experience even more seamless. The thinking behind this strategy is inspired by the channel-less behavior of customers.
Customers are already channel-less in their day-to-day lives, and do not think within the confines of channels. Within a single conversation, multiple channels can be used. These different channels blend into, and support one another, as part of a single connected experience. To this extent, individual channels fade into the background, and all that remains is the experience.
Take for example two friends discussing what to wear to a concert over the phone. While on a voice call, they exchange photos of outfit options via a separate channel, such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. Both channels blend together seamlessly as part of a single conversation.
According to research by Gartner® Inc., “customers don’t mind switching channels as long as their issue is resolved in a single, continuous interaction”. In this way, channels are simply a means to achieve a desired outcome. Although, it is still important to note that resolving a customer’s problem as quick as possible on the first channel they use, is key to maximizing customer satisfaction (CSAT) and loyalty.
In a truly channel-less customer experience, there is consistency of information and service quality, no matter the channel used. Data siloes are bridged, meaning there is no need for customers to switch channels to find important information or to access a specific service, making it effortless to find what they need. Moreover, if customers do switch channels, thanks to transparency across all customer touchpoints, transitions are seamless.
A single, all-inclusive central customer data system as part of a channel-less strategy, ensures that contact center agents see a complete view of the customer across all customer service channels and systems of record. Customer information, preferences and interaction history are all visible to agents, and easily accessed. Therefore, agents are able to provide personalization and maintain consistent customer relationships through whichever channel they engage with customers on.
Understanding customers is more straightforward with a channel-less strategy. All customer data including location, language, preferences et cetera is collated into one single source of truth for every customer, and harnessed to improve CX. When CX is more relevant and personalized to each customer, organizations can expect to see increased customer loyalty and trust in their brand.
Simple, convenient experiences are the number one way to attract customers. Convenience is achieved by reducing customer effort throughout the entire experience with an organization. With transparency across each touchpoint, and no need for customers to repeat information they have provided before, channel-less CX lets customers find what they need quickly and easily.
Channel-less is the next step on the timeline of channel strategy evolution. However, the infrastructure and the technology that supports an omni-channel strategy is fundamentally necessary for a channel-less one. Therefore, organizations should continue to strive for omni-channel, and adopt a channel-less mind-set when it comes to CX.
 Ventana Research, Contact Center: Creating a better experience, 2022.
 Gartner® Inc., “5 Digital Customer Behavior Insights to Shape Your Channel Strategy”, Customer Service and Support Research Team, 24 September 2021.
GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.
 Customer Contact Week Digital, Market Study: Customer Experience Trends, Challenges & Innovations, 2021.