Embrace digital transformation to survive in a hyper-connected customer engagement world
Service providers today are in a constant state of flux, having to continually adapt and innovate to cater to the demands of the digital consumer, writes Matt Hooper, the senior vice president of IMImobile.
Although traditional network-based services such as SMS and voice are still important, internet-based technologies and the rise of OTT (over-the-top) services have raised the bar for consumer communication and interaction channels, thanks to the explosive growth in the adoption of smartphones in the UK – two-thirds of the British population are projected to own one by 2018.
In turn, companies have been forced to rethink and implement a digital strategy or risk being left behind. This includes mobile network operators (MNOs) who are under pressure to respond to rapidly changing market dynamics, including the move to multi-play, the imminent rollout of 5G networks, and the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the customer journey.
However, even with average data usage expected to grow five-fold by 2020, only 60% of UK mobile operators describe their digital transformation programmes as in progress, in the early stages or not started.
Traditional telcos are in direct competition with challenger digital service providers such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, which threaten their business model. These companies have successfully rolled out disruptive digital strategies, such as virtualising an entire industry, shunning the need for assets and physical infrastructure. Telcos must therefore ensure that innovation stands at the forefront of all their research and development efforts.
From a commercial standpoint, failing to keep up can also have an impact on a telco’s bottom line. McKinsey & Company research states that telcos with advanced digital capabilities boast a profit margin of 43%, compared to 21% for competitors with a less developed offering.
A recent white paper by IMImobile and Ovum, titled ‘Orchestrating the omnichannel customer experience’, highlights the need for UK telcos to identify and address capability gaps in their organisational competence and technology platforms, if they are to maintain optimal relationships with their customers in the long-term.
Considering that digital channels are being used increasingly by consumers as the norm in their daily lives, including messaging based communications, entertainment, shopping and financial management, the aim is to work towards integrating these digital channels in order to provide a seamless, personalised experience for the end user is key. The ability to use whatever interaction channel they want across the customer journey, with a consistent experience. Currently, legacy processes and systems are impacting the ability to close the loop on better levels of customer experience and engagement.
In order to successfully deploy an omnichannel customer experience platform, telcos must commit to providing a unified view of customer interaction that extends across all of their departments and data systems. If we consider that the consumer is demanding increasing levels of efficiency and convenience from their smart devices to manage their lives, orchestration serves the purpose of faster delivery of services, information and the avoidance of customer journey fragmentation.
This fragmentation is no better demonstrated than in the contact centre where often consumers are past from agent to agent, based on the type of query they have, starting the customer journey afresh each time. This is a poor customer experience and has to change.
Personalisation is a key element of the digital transformation trend. However, there exists a trust deficiency between the consumer and a business when it comes to the sharing of information. According to research by Deloitte, only 20 per cent of consumers are happy for their personal information to be used by businesses in order to offer them more personalisation. Telcos must provide reassurance that appropriate measures are in place for the secure transmission of data and the new GDPR (Genral Data Protection Regulation) directives coming into place in 2018, means orchestration of the customer journey based on clear data and trigger points must be clearly mapped.
In summary, the capability gaps are four-fold and should be seen as areas of opportunity, or indeed key objectives, for telcos: identifying trigger points based on micro-persona recognition, omnichannel orchestration with increasing degrees of automation, continuous service adaptation, and protection of the customer’s data. Delivering on this strategy can ensure that telcos take back their critical role at the heart of customer interaction and thrive in the connected economy of the future. The key success factor for telcos is creating a platform approach to digital, that’s the common denominator for companies such as Amazon and Apple.
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