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Communications service providers (CSPs) facing new competition in this global, convergent marketplace are turning to an omni-channel strategy for engaging and retaining customers.
There is a clear trend in many industries toward the use of multi-channel approaches to engaging with customers. But in focusing on multi-channel, companies may be overlooking a more fundamental need—the need for a seamless, omni-channel approach that provides a single, unified experience for the customer across all channels.
Omni-channel can be defined as a synchronized operating model in which all of the company’s channels are aligned and present a single face to the customer, along with one consistent way of doing business.
In an omni-channel approach, the service provider’s brand effectively operates as a single channel, orchestrating high-value customer experiences across all touch points. The customer experience it delivers is seamless, consistent and personalized through the integration of agent-assisted channels with digital channels such as social media, so customers can interact whenever, wherever and however they want with the provider, across all channels.
One fundamental issue as convergence takes hold is that communications service providers (CSPs) are facing challenges in their core revenue sources. Ubiquitous data and mature over-the-top (OTT) offerings are together eroding the primary revenue sources of these service providers, while also removing the barriers for customers who wish to change their primary service provider.
Legacy service models and platforms are also making it more difficult for CSPs to cope with the rapidly moving target of customer expectations.
Accenture’s Nonstop-Customer Experience Model, based on insights derived from Accenture research studies, reflects these changes and provides a new model for service providers’ understanding of customer behavior.
Because their journey is dynamic, accessible and continuous, today’s customers increasingly expect a seamless, integrated, consistent and personalized experience with their service providers which current multi-channel models—with their multiple silos of customer contact—are unable to provide. Instead, a fully integrated response to these new customer requirements will need to be both customer-driven and omni-channel in nature.
The growing need for a seamless, consistent and personalized omni-channel response will soon be table stakes to compete in this ever-changing digital ecosystem. Unless communications service providers meet customers’ expectations for such a unified response, they may lose market share, or worse still, struggle to stay profitable.
To create a seamless customer experience, CSPs must:
Meet customers where they are—i.e., in the channel of their choice.
Recognize and acknowledge who individual customers are, the products and services they have purchased, and their prior interaction history—across all channels.
Operate as a single brand and channel, orchestrating customer experiences across all touch points.
Show customers they are valued through personalized offers, treatments and rewards.
Another aspect of providing a seamless customer experience is making an effort to understand customers’ new expectations, which may be summed up in four simple phrases:
“Knowing the customer” manifests itself in providing a very personalized buying and service experience. Customers want their service provider to know their personal profiles—including devices, services and content purchases.
From a sales perspective, when customers interact with a service provider, they want the service provider to provide relevant recommendations that would be valuable for them (e.g., offerings and promotions).
Communications service providers (CSPs) need to break down the walls, integrate across the traditional silos, and leverage digital innovations to provide personalized interactions and services.
Integration across traditional and digital channels is the obvious initial response. However, gains from focusing only on customer interfaces are likely to be of low order and short-lived.
To deliver the omni-channel promise for customers, CSPs need to re-examine the operating model as it spans business functions, product lines and external partners. Providers’ focus should be on operating model, business processes, and business technology as drivers and enablers of the integration effort focused on omni-channel experiences.
CSPs must pursue a customer-centric approach to their operational capabilities by optimizing and integrating their operations in several areas:
Powered by technology, analytics, mobility, and flexible marketing operations, CSPs can deliver innovative, omni-channel experiences that bridge marketing, commerce, and service interactions. And they can do so by integrating across all functions, products and services, and by providing personalized customer interactions across all channels.
Donald Carroll is the Retail lead for Accenture Communications, Media & Technology in North America. He is based in Dallas, Texas.
Inés Guzmán is the lead for the Digital Customer Service practice and for Customer Business Services, Communication Industry. She is based in Madrid, Spain.
Learn more about Accenture services, research and client successes for the communications industry.
September 30, 2013
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