Future Customer Experience: From Digital to Omnichannel

Achieving digital transformation has been the focus of companies for about a decade.  Although the telecommunication industry has been working towards a transformation, it has been hampered by legacy systems, organizational silos, and regimented cultures.  In general, telecommunication companies have lagged behind retailers in delivering exceptional customer experiences.

Before there can be a digital transformation that focuses on customer experience, the corporate culture needs to become a digital culture. Learn how here.

 A recent study found that communication service providers (CSPs) are reorganizing their entire operations so that every aspect — whether people, processes, or products — measures customer satisfaction.  They are also investing in big data software to create predictive models for more personalized customer experiences.  Underlying these changes is the restructuring of their infrastructures to allow for a more agile environment.

Why is an agile company important?  It’s not enough to deliver a digital experience.  CSPs must design customer journeys that:

  • Use a digital-first strategy
  • Create a uniform omnichannel experience
  • Offer personalized journey

They must be agile enough to pivot quickly to address the unexpected.  If Moore’s Law holds true, CSPs should be prepared to address a technology disruption every 18 months.

Digital-First

Digital-first means meeting customers where they live, and they live online.  The majority of consumers (81%) conduct online research before purchasing or engaging an offline channel.  If a company lacks a digital presence, it becomes invisible.  Being digitally present is more than a website or mobile app.  It is engaging on social media, using self-serve kiosks and deploying chatbots.  

Social Media

Social media plays an essential role in establishing a digital-first strategy because the average person has about eight social media accounts.  Combining all delivery channels, people encounter between 4,000 and 10,000 advertising messages per day.   That’s more messaging than anyone can process, so people begin to screen the ads, focusing on those that connect to them personally.

Making sure your message is remembered takes consistency.  It also means deploying it across social media platforms.  Even using free platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn can extend your reach if the content is worth sharing.  What is essential is using the rule of seven — people need to see a brand’s message at least seven times before purchasing.

Social media platforms are not just for prospects; they can serve as a way to engage existing customers as well.  Not every message needs to be a sales ad.  CSPs can send messages about service upgrades or community involvement.  The effective use of social media can create the impression that a company is “everywhere.”

Self-Serve Kiosks

CSPs have a unique challenge when it comes to creating a digital-first strategy.  They aren’t an online-only provider, but they aren’t a typical brick-and-mortar retailer.  As a group, they have to chart their own path for an online and in-person roadmap.

Some providers offer digital stores that are entirely self-service.  Others deploy a self-service kiosk at the point of entry with staff available when the customer needs help.  A few CSPs offer a complete in-person experience even though it bypasses the digital experience.

Deploying the same application on a kiosk as on a website or mobile app provides a level of confidence in customers who are visiting a store.  Because they have experience using the software, it is much easier for them to navigate the kiosk.  Adding chatbots to the kiosk interface enhances the customer experience and allows for transfer to a team member at the right moment for the customer.

Chatbots

Chatbots are becoming an essential part of a digital-first strategy.  A recent article reported that 80% of businesses use or plan to use chatbots.  When people ask Siri for a list of movie theaters near them, they are using chatbot technology.  That technology has advanced to include artificial intelligence and machine learning, making it possible to personalize interactions.

To be effective, Chatbots can’t be an added feature.  They need to be an integrated solution that can address frontline customer service requests and transfer a customer to a staff member when required.  As machine learning and natural language processing improve, chatbots can play a more significant role in reducing costs while delivering on a digital-first strategy.

Omnichannel

Omnichannel functionality is more than delivering consistent content across multiple delivery channels.  A successful strategy uses channels to interact with a customer throughout their journey.  If a potential customer clicks on a tweet, the next interaction will be in response to that tweet, even if it comes as an email or text message.  Every channel knows the customer’s behavior.

An omnichannel strategy results in a 250% higher purchase rate than a single-channel implementation, and those purchases were 13% higher than for a single-channel purchase.  Even more important, an omnichannel approach results in a 90% increase in customer loyalty over a single channel.  So what do CSPs need to do to create a robust omnichannel strategy?

Eliminating Silos

When developing an omnichannel plan, IT has to be involved.  It can no longer come at the end of the process after a strategy has already been set.  Operations must collaborate with customer service, so customers experience a cohesive journey from sales through installation or delivery to customer support.  Without eliminating silos, it is impossible to develop a shared knowledge base that is crucial for an effective delivery strategy.

Unless data is collected across an enterprise, businesses cannot take advantage of big data solutions.  Collecting data at key points in the customer’s journey feeds predictive models that can help personalize interactions.   Using artificial intelligence and predictive modeling, CSPs can reduce churn.  By analyzing a warehouse of data such as usage patterns, demographic data and purchase history, modeling, and analytics can help CSPs predict successful interactions.

Synchronizing Delivery

Customers expect a company to know their journey.  If they have communicated with one channel, their expectation is the next channel will have access to that information.  Customers hate to repeat themselves.    A recent survey found that 86% of consumers expect a company to track them as they move from channel to channel.  

Digital natives are even less likely to tolerate a lack of synchronized delivery channels.  Most will leave without registering a complaint, but 96% of customers will share their negative experiences in such a way as to hurt a company’s business.  Digital natives are comfortable sharing experiences and writing reviews, whether they are positive or negative.

Simplifying Processes

The telecom industry is burdened with legacy systems that have been combined as companies merged or been sidelined during an acquisition.  These different systems only add to the complexity of delivering a cohesive message. Even employees can be hampered by older systems that do not respond to the needs of the 21st century.

An infrastructure based on legacy systems can be overly complex as customized interfaces are created to let systems share data.  Removing these obstacles makes for a leaner infrastructure that is more responsive to change.  With a more agile infrastructure, CSPs can accelerate their time to market for new products and services.  Some companies have adopted a DevOps approach to development, making for more customer-centric designs.

Personalized

Personalization is more than delivering the right promotion at the right time.  It also includes addressing customer concerns about privacy and security.  Data-driven personalization comes with greater risks, and CSPs need to build trust with each customer.  A recent survey found that 75% of CPSs see privacy and security as a vital part of their customer experience strategy.

Privacy

As more personally identifiable information (PII) is used to individualize customer experiences, the telecommunication industry has to ensure compliance with regulations such as Europe’s GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).  As individuals become more aware of the types of personal data collected and stored by CSPs, they will want to know that businesses are adhering to the data privacy laws.  CSPs should be prepared to address compliance concerns to avoid legal action that can damage their reputation.

Security

Customizing consumer experiences over multiple delivery channels increases the number of endpoints for cyberattacks.  With the growth of IoT, CSPs may need to address the security of devices that their customers connect to their networks.  According to a 2019 study, a data breach has serious financial consequences. 

The loss of customer trust turned into a loss of business to such a degree that it is one of the top four categories impacting the total cost of a security breach.  The study found that organizations that lost less than 1% of their customers also suffered half the financial loss of those who saw a drop of 4% in its customer base.  Creating strong customer loyalty through personalization should be a focus of any omnichannel strategy.

Loyalty

The ultimate goal of an individualized experience is building customer loyalty.  Omnichannel strategies should include contextual interactions using predictive modeling and analytics.  Incorporating machine learning and artificial intelligence, CSPs can develop processes to proactively address customer concerns.  All of these contribute to establishing customer loyalty. 

CSPs must create individualized experiences that let customers know that they are more than a market segment.  These experiences must transverse all delivery channels without loss of continuity in the journey.  Making sure that they can deliver new products and services quickly ensures that customers will not look elsewhere.  That’s why adopting an agile environment is an essential part of solidifying customer loyalty.

Before there can be a digital transformation that focuses on customer experience, the corporate culture needs to become a digital culture. Learn how here.

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