Customer Centricity

Omnichannel – still ominously difficult

Annie Turner looks at why it’s so hard to get omnichannel right in this excerpt from TM Forum’s newly published Quick Insights report, Customer centricity: Creating the digital experiencewhich is free for anyone to download.

The combination of omnichannel and customer journeys should be a powerful one, with one informing the other and helping to improve processes. But omnichannel has become ever more complex, as communications service providers (CSPs):

  • have become central players in the traditional pay-TV market, mainly offering managed services over their own DSL, fiber or CATV network;
  • are angling to become multiplay providers – that is, offering combinations of bundled mobile, fixed broadband and telephony, and TV services;
  • are partnering with content companies like Netflix, Spotify and Deezer;
  • grapple with SIM fragmentation as SIM formats and offers multiply; and
  • segment their customer bases, for instance, recognizing many customers’ preference for digital channels.

Just how tough it is to do all that integration is demonstrated by Telefónica Global, which is widely acknowledged as one of the most digitally advanced telecoms groups. Speaking to an invited audience at TM Forum Live! 2017 in May, Phil Jordan, the company’s outgoing Group CIO, said, “We’ve looked at every process in our business in every one of the 20 countries we operate in and asked ourselves two questions:

  • Is it automated and to what extent?
  • Is it in the right channel and in real time?

“We’ve mapped every process in our business…and looked at every channel and how it engages with which customers, from assisted channels to self-assisted. We’ve mapped all our operations against it to find out what works without intervention.” (See graphic below.)

“The bigger the bubble, the higher the number of interactions with the customer, and color-coding shows the level of satisfaction,” Jordan explained.

“More importantly for care and sales, where we still have a low level of automation across all the lines of business – I’m talking about fixed, mobile, TV, quadplay and value-add services – we still have too many processes that customers don’t like, such as how to deal with technical problems,” he added.

Omnichannel is not enabling everything on all channels

Jordan stressed that CSPs should not necessarily strive for every process to be in the top right quadrant of the diagram, or in a non-assisted channel. This view is echoed by Rigas Parathyras, Senior Manager, Digital Architecture, with Liberty Global, which is the world’s largest international cable company providing quad-play services in 12 countries.

“When we rolled out a [omnichannel enablement]platform [in 2015], our first priority was consistency, to ensure that customers’ data is shared across all channels and products,” he explains. “It depends on the criticality and use case how fast we update the data across all systems, achieving different levels of consistency for different products and channels.”

Now things have moved on, and Liberty Global is not focusing so much on seamless journeys and channel hopping but on creating “magic moments,” according to Parathyras.

“Instead of optimizing every single touchpoint and journey, we are focusing to optimize specific key touchpoints in the customers’ lifecycle that would make a big impact on users’ experience.”

He adds, “It’s not about the difficulty involved in making everything seamless, but sometimes we don’t want to. For example, if you use a digital channel, you get better prices and are treated differently, and that’s an incentive, to reward customers. By optimizing specific touchpoints and promoting certain channels, we form our channel strategy.”



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About The Author

Snr Director, Research & Media

Annie Turner has been researching and writing about the communications industry since the 1980s, editing magazines dedicated to the subject including titles published by Thomson International and The Economist Group. She has contributed articles to many publications, including national and international newspapers such as the Financial Times and International Herald Tribune, and a multitude of business-to-business titles. She joined the TM Forum in 2010 and is responsible for overseeing the content of the Research and Publications portfolio.

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