The following blog provides an edited excerpt from the new white paper, "Orchestrating the omnichannel experience: what telcos must do to get it right and why", produced by Ovum in partnership with IMImobile.
This interesting analysis by Ovum suggests that the way consumers interact with enterprises may be going full circle over a 20-year period. Back in 2000-2005, consumers were using voice and text over telco-dominated channels, which then began to move online as consumers interacted more with themselves and businesses on the internet. With the rise of smartphones (2007-2010) we saw a rapid growth in apps, and since 2010 there has been an explosion in customer conversations moving towards chat and texting in both apps and social media channels such as Twitter DM and Facebook Messenger.
But a recent trend sees conversations seem to be shifting back towards natural language (text and voice) as consumers’ preferred way to interact with brands – and these always-on customers now expect businesses to meet them in the channel of their choice, and at a time convenient to them.
Read the full white paper now.
The evolution of communications
Since the turn of this century, the way in which consumers and enterprises use communication services has undergone a significant shift. Every 5 years, since about 2000, we have seen an evolutionary step forward in technology, laying the foundations for the communication and mobile services we enjoy today.
From 2000 to 2005 we saw the mainstream adoption of (mostly fixed) IP-based communications in developed markets, providing an alternative to traditional circuit-switched services such as voice and, on mobile, SMS. In the succeeding five years, IP-based communications spread to mobile, smartphones proliferated, and the mobile app market was born; with the launch of Facebook and Twitter, the social media market took off. Next, from 2010 to 2015, we saw the introduction and rapid adoption of chat apps, which have themselves become multi-device platforms for VoIP and video calling, messaging, content distribution, payments, and other services.
Telcos have been the one of, (if not the key) instruments by which the evolution of communications has occurred. Their investments in network infrastructure, including high-speed data networks, enable the social and digital platforms, content and services that stimulate interaction between businesses and their customers today.
Now, two years into in the next five-year cycle, we have seen the rise of automated communications via chatbots, and the introduction and increasing use of communications capabilities enabled by artificial intelligence, including virtual assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri. This is such a rapid rate of technological evolution, which is also powering change in consumer behaviour, today’s telcos and businesses that quickly adapt and increase flexibility will succeed.
With the rise of the always online, mobile-absorbed digital native, we now live in the era of experience where only innovative services, valued customer engagement and customer service that goes beyond the call of duty attracts consumer attention. And once a consumer becomes a customer, they expect to be able to access multiple communication channels through multiple devices, switching seamlessly between each channel, being welcomed personally no matter what stage of the customer journey they are currently in. This is the ever-chased “omnichannel experience”.
For telcos, these expectations in today’s competitive market simultaneously bring challenge and opportunity.
As telcos become triple- and quad-play service providers, a typical telco offering can now include a mix of mobile and fixed-line communications services, broadband internet, cable TV, and more, either acquired via sale or built through organic growth.
But, with such a wide portfolio of services, telcos are now faced with the challenge of ensuring that they can effectively and proactively up-sell or cross-sell their entire offering to their existing customers - this is omnichannel’s value, and why it’s essential to the future of telcos.
As such, telcos are evolving their entire service delivery infrastructure to IP-based platforms in order to become more agile and complete service providers. This digital transformation is a vital prerequisite for:
• Preparing for the ramp-up to the launch of 5G networks, which will be application-adaptive networks that will allow telcos to better tailor the performance of applications and services delivered over 5G to the needs of the individual end user (whether consumer or enterprise).
• Building the organisational competency to enable omnichannel, developing a single coherent view of their customers as individuals across all the products and services that the customer buys from the telco. Telcos will also need to know how best to engage with each individual customer, embracing data-driven intelligent interaction with customers.
• Providing a better customer service experience by harnessing the latest tech; for example, being able to automate tasks such as order processing, transaction fulfilment, or service provisioning, by using artificial intelligence and chatbots.
But to achieve all this - to deliver the experiences, engagement and services sales and marketing want to provide - there are a number of challenges to tackle first.
Overcoming existing silos is one of the most prominent, including the integration of different sets of customer data across different customer experience management platforms. All this must also be overcome with strained IT departments, who are often already tasked with cutting the costs of daily operations.
For more information and insights on the omnichannel opportunity for telcos and overcoming the challenges of digital transformation, download our new white paper.
Launched in partnership with Ovum, and written by leading Ovum analysts Pamela Clark-Dickson and Jeremy Cox, the paper not only delves deeper into orchestrating intelligent customer interactions, but also gives practical advice on how to approach digital transformation for success – and what telcos need to do be able to deliver a truly omnichannel experience to customers.