More than 80 percent of brand marketers surveyed by the knowledge exchange network CMO Council say their brands are extremely, very or increasingly reliant on global customer connectivity, secure digital communications, real-time customer interaction and multichannel content delivery.
Hence, brands and communications service providers (CSPs) will need to become tightly coupled to fulfill their shared vision of delivering a more gratifying, valued and relevant omnichannel experience for customers.
The study, entitled Getting Serious About the Omni-Channel Experience, details the results of a survey of more than 250 brand and telco marketing leaders, commentary from a CMO roundtable, and insights from interviews with senior marketers at a cross-section of companies including telco operators and communications service providers (CSPs).
“Omnichannel engagements have created an imperative for new partnerships between telecommunications providers and brands,” states the report, “Establishing new opportunities for telcos to emerge as the ‘secret ingredient’ to dynamic brand engagements.”
Omnichannel expectations are two-fold according to the CMO Council:
- Both customers and brands expect communication and connection to be seamless, in real-time, on-demand and always-on. Connection should happen in seconds and anything less will lead to defection.
- Personalization is also core. The data collected about customers should be used with the specific intention of adding value to each and every customer experience. Consumers are no longer content to wait for personalization and connected engagements to happen in moments of brand brilliance.
Thus, the research has revealed a healthy interest among brands for tapping the upgraded digital infrastructures, subscriber access and enormously valuable data repositories of mobile network operators and telco carriers to help them deliver a more consistent, unified and enriched experience across all digital and physical channels.
- Almost half of non-telco marketers surveyed see a potential leadership role for CSPs to provide brands with an optimized framework for omnichannel engagement.
- In contrast, 56 percent of telco industry marketers believe that non-telco companies are outperforming telco operators and CSPs in delivering a true omnichannel experience.
- Just 4 percent of subscriber-reliant telco companies believe they are giving their customers a consistent, personalized and contextually relevant experience across all traditional and digital channels.
- On the non-telco side, the picture is just as dismal. A nominal 1 percent of brand marketers say they have a complete omnichannel management (OCM) model in place.
“Less than 10 percent of telco marketers believe they are highly advanced and rapidly evolving when it comes to being more data-driven, customer-responsive and digitally adaptive,” noted Donovan Neale-May, Executive Director, CMO Council, “More than 25 percent list functional integration; cultural, technical and operational hurdles; and resistance to change as obstacles to evolving to a true OCM model.”
The research is clear, executives have a distinct vision of what an optimal omnichannel experience should be: responsive, personalized and driven by real-time, data-driven analytics and connectivity across a growing web of channels. But how can they go about bringing this vision to life? Especially in light of the fact that both telcos and brands believe that the other is advancing at a faster pace, and have low opinions of their own omnichannel experiences. The industry interviews brought forth some key actions:
Call to partner
Brands are looking to take advantage of upgraded digital infrastructures, subscriber access and enormously valuable data repositories of mobile network operators and telco carriers in their quest to differentiate themselves. The real question will be how quickly telcos can meet this call to partner through providing insight and by leading brands into the omnichannel world.
Perhaps the call to action is best summarized by Michael Dela Cruz, Head of Customer Communications, Globe Telecom: “When competition is so fierce, price points are the same, and products and networks are the same…the only way you can truly differentiate is through customer experience.”
Following on from this point, while people, platforms and processes will be needed to operationalize transformation, the customer must remain at the center, if not the forefront, of all business decisions.
“We must put optimal customer experience as the main goal of our digital transformation,” explains Saiful Hidayat, Head of the Telkom Group Transformation Project, Telekomunikasi Indonesia, “That way, we optimize delivery for our customers while simultaneously operating more efficiently and effectively.
“Having a digital culture means being customer-centric, data driven, innovative and agile. To deliver that promise, we need to improve service innovation and optimized delivery with the right digital culture, talent and skill.”
For telcos, a growing subscriber base means extending their networks to the most far reaching areas of the globe. Sisir Padhy, VP of Innovation, Verizon explained, “We need to be able to provide the promise of the digital world at anytime and anyplace…and anyplace means not only one city or one block, but anywhere in the country and – with partnerships and global networks – the future promise of a digital experience anywhere in the world.”
Delivering this experience everywhere is exactly the engagement that brands like Visa expect to deliver. Christopher Curtin, Chief Brand and Innovation Marketing Officer, Visa, explains, “Our brand motto is ‘Everywhere You Want to Be,’ so our telco providers need to make sure that our Visa brand is preserved and omnipresent, no matter where in the world our customers are. To meet this brand promise, telcos must deliver on their promise first. But connectivity is just the starting point…
“…As such, simply providing increased network services will not be enough in today’s customer centric environment. Services must be delivered within the context of a fluid, real-time and personalized omnichannel management model. The very data that powers each engagement must be reliably and rapidly passed across systems to take action in real-time.”
Now is the time to take action. Franz Weisenburger, SVP of Customer Experience, Deutsche Telekom comments, “We know what our goals are. To deliver omnichannel promises, we need partners offering the fully harmonized set of building blocks of standardized approaches. We need interactive intelligence of buying habits. We need integration to ensure secure data transfers. We need unified channel and journey monitoring, analytics, content management and design tools, and data management platforms.”