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 slice of analysis from Ovum may have a few surprises in store regarding the progress of omnichannel and digital transformation in the telco industry. Mobile operators in Germany, for example, appear to be falling behind the pack with more telcos reporting that they haven't yet started their omnichannel transformation efforts, while Spain and the UK seem to be charging ahead, with most reporting their programmes are either complete, well advanced or in progress. But however different the progress (or perception of progress) between countries, it's nonetheless clear that the majority of telcos globally have a long way to go yet to achieve their omnichannel dreams - and many are still at the starting gate.
Consumers have never had as much choice as they do now in terms of how to interact with their service providers and brands. Customer service is increasingly moving toward being channel-agnostic, which means that telcos must be willing and able to provide customer service across the multiple communications channels that their customers use.
However, the way in which most telcos traditionally provide communications services – that is, as a series of silos – means that their underlying technology platforms are not equipped to provide their customers with as much orchestrated channel choice as is available.
Most telcos are a long way from having an effective omnichannel capability
Ovum research into omnichannel reveals that most telcos are still a long way from having the ability to orchestrate the customer experience in line with their customers' many and various journeys.
Omnichannel progress in telco companies
Source: Ovum ICT Enterprise Insights
Telcos in most countries are "in progress," in "early stages," or "not started." In the UK, that accounts for around 60% of telcos.
So why, given the obvious importance of delivering an experience in line with customer expectations, is progress so painfully slow?
The gap lies both in telcos engineering the necessary integrations with the relevant third-party services (such as Facebook) and in terms of telcos "conversation-enabling" their existing back-end systems, including customer relationship management, provisioning, and fulfilment, for example.
The ability to intelligently automate certain segments of the customer interaction is another area where telcos should assess the possibilities that are open to them, deploying artificial intelligence such as natural language processing in order to more intelligently answer customer enquiries.
At the same time, it’s vital for telcos to cultivate a more agile service development environment as an organisational competency to ensure continuous regeneration of their customer engagement platforms. They need to ensure that their underlying technology platforms and organisational cultures are continuously adaptable to changes that are both expected and unforeseen, so that new capabilities can be easily added and features that are not delivering the desired results can be either dropped or tweaked in order to become more relevant.
In addition, telcos should examine to what extent they can maximise the use of their own network assets in order to further enhance the customer journey. For example, they are in a unique position to effectively use their customers' location and personal data to offer proximity-based marketing and journeys using geo-fences.
Omnichannel can help telcos serve consumers better in a digital world – if they adopt the right approach
The changes in consumers' behaviours and expectations allied to commoditisation of services, as well as ready access to alternatives from traditional or emerging competitors and OTT players, mean that the pressure is on for telcos to differentiate on the quality and relevance of the customer experience they can deliver. Many telcos are following a twin-track approach in the pursuit of profitable growth:
• creating the omnichannel-delivered customer experience
• transforming their value propositions and evolving from communications services providers (CSPs) to digital service providers.
The smarter ones realise that the two engines of growth must be closely interwoven. Creating an effective omnichannel customer experience opens the channel arteries of the firm through which new services can be bought and consumed, reviewed, and recommended by customers, if the experience is positive and relevant.
The four core capabilities which must be supported by omnichannel
At the core of omnichannel are four capabilities that must be supported:
• Recognise the customer or persona. Recognise the customer as a customer or, if a prospect, a persona, based on behavioural patterns.
• Orchestrate the experience. Intelligently orchestrate the customer experience throughout the customer's journey in real time.
• Adapt continuously. Adapt at the right pace to ensure a persistently relevant customer experience across all channel interactions.
• Protect the customer. That refers to privacy and protection against the unauthorised or fraudulent use of customer data; it is essential in all transactions.
A unified view of the customer supported by organisational coherence is essential
Fundamental to omnichannel delivery is a unified view of each customer or prospect and the means and mechanisms to coordinate relevant support, be it content, advice, or a specific action.
The 13 attributes of omnichannel management
These 13 attributes shown in the 10 outer circles of “True omnichannel management”, plus privacy protection, compliance, and cybersecurity highlighted in the green circle, must be supported in every interaction and form the basis of an omnichannel customer experience strategy.
Finally, to deliver seamless journeys and offer relevance at each step is a major feat of intelligent orchestration that must be supported by some form of customer interaction hub to control the traffic and personalise the experience by synthesising and acting on live customer data, historical data from CRM systems, and product content and operational data.
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.