How to get customer centricity right in omnichannel for telecom businesses

Overcoming the challenge of the current legacy system for future-proof digital roadmaps & channel processes.

Make it right or meet your end

Upgrading the channel system infrastructure to the next digital level has never been challenge-free. This also holds true in the telecommunication area, where players have been developing a system set-up and targeted at selling and marketing  feasibility for an ever-changing product portfolio. In such a dynamic and competitive industry, making innovations happen has been crucial, but long-term thinking was never the guiding principle. But when legacy systems prevent telecom businesses from creating a future-proof infrastructure, companies realize that they need to change gears.
Legacy systems are today ‘s biggest challenge to get a modern & capable digital omnichannel set-up to reach customers. This IT transformation process is especially relevant and urgent nowadays where digital disruptors from everyday life, like Facebook, Amazon and Netflix, set the bar for a customer-centric approach in every sector. Telecom  is no an exception here. The industry struggles with a 20-year old legacy which makes it challenging to cope with digitally lean OTT players. The system complexity makes companies wrestle with the simplest requirements of a customer-centric approach to selling to & servicing mobile and fixed line customers.

The customer experience as a clear strategic goal

Customers have become increasingly demanding - also in the telecommunications sector. They want their needs to be taken seriously and understood. They expect a simple and smooth customer journey without disruptions, as they have become used to it from other online providers. It's no longer just about the content, but about an overall experience that must inspire.
A good customer experience has a significant influence not only on the customer purchase decision in competitors’ benchmark, but also on the advocacy rates.

1Digital Transformation for 2020 and beyond. A global telecommunications study. ($FILE/ey-digital-transformation-for-2020-and-beyond.pdf)

Telecoms providers need to change the way they set-up their operations and systems, otherwise they will lose their customers to the ones who do not suffer under the legacy burden.
‘What to do’ is the question which keeps telecom business leaders awake at night today.

A complex world in a competitive industry

The product world of an average telecom provider has increased extremely in complexity over the last years. A variety of customers, processes and offering types in this competitive industry translates into multiple paths and iterations which needs to be reflected in their systems. This has resulted in a complex architecture with independent sales systems, dedicated product catalogues and non-integrated data in various back-end systems. The lack of a 360° customer view prevents front personnel and decision makers from providing personalized offerings to address unsatisfied needs.
The resulting sales approach is operator-offer-driven rather than customer-need-driven. This system complexity has as a consequence a falling customer satisfaction, high churn rates and shrinking margins, which limit further the maneuvering space in the industry. This situation poses a growing burden for telecom businesses with ageing systems, especially in the context of a cut-throat competition in a saturated market.

Rising requirements of the omnichannel set-up in IT systems

Since the moment digital technologies became essential to channel management, Telco players have learned painfully that establishing a fully digitally integrated omnichannel is key to defending their market position and establishing a provider branding. This is the most promising entry point for any IT change initiative in the telecom industry aimed at enhancing customer experience. The reason is, firstly, that the omnichannel plays a central role for capturing value from the customer relationship. Starting a product purchase online and finishing at the store is a usual customer journey to the consumer renewal process. Secondly, most customer acquisition and retention mechanics take place at omnichannel – a central lever for securing the customer. Only telecom players able to reach the customer centricity standards set by digital players will be able to engage with their customers in a meaningful way. This makes the omnichannel a centrepiece for telecom service providers value generation.
Building an omnichannel and making its sales motion efficient has raised the requirements for IT system architecture and operations. Processes and customer journeys need to be redesigned, and ‘front-office’ & back-end systems need to be integrated to be able to deliver attractive ‘next best offerings’ and relevant digital experiences to customers.
All these requirements hit businesses & IT decision makers in equal ways. Which initiatives should be in the focus, especially at the beginning in this journey to a more customer-centric company?

Where should business & IT owners focus on first?

An effective solution to get it right is to provide a customer-centric experience in omnichannel. Consumers expect their Telco provider to support them with relevant and value-delivering services which fit to the consumers’ needs. At the end of the day, if Telco is transparent on all matters of data consumption, where is the challenge in offering the right products?
Speeding up e-commerce capabilities to provide the right offerings might require frequent release cycles and a ‘fail fast’ development culture in order to reach customer centricity levels unseen before at many Telco players. This omnichannel set-up program sounds like an overwhelming assignment, but it can be tackled with focused initiatives within an Agile cross-company set-up.

Hycom’s approach to a customer-centric set-up - what telecom players need to do now

Hycom’s telecoms UX concept is aimed at understanding the customer journey and exploring the goals and development opportunities of each individual telecom service provider. The goal of this successfully implemented CX management approach is to reward every customer, on every channel, at every touch point and using every user interface with a useful and satisfying experience. This approach to a customer-centric set-up focuses on existing challenges in following key areas:  

  • Omnichannel commerce
    Attractive offerings which address customers’ needs are crucial to tap the revenue potential in the customer base. With IT legacy systems for singular products, businesses need to upgrade their e-commerce product catalogues with higher capabilities and make them more flexible to be able. for example to build bundled offerings from different back-end product systems.

  • Customer journeys & data-driven customer management
    Customers want to be able to start a purchase process in one channel, like a telecom player’s web shop, and close the purchase in the store or contact center. Front-office employees can be enabled to gain an insight into customers’ e-commerce activity in the web shop with e.g. shopping cart data, or get an overview of customer status data, like timing of renewal period and the current tariff plan.

  • Self-Service
    A customer-centric set-up which enables a personalized experience at self-care portals is essential today. Offering a good CX at self-service portals delivers a double reward. Keeping current customers satisfied reduces churn. Digitally responsive customers who use digital touchpoints (ex: conversational commerce & service tools like chatbots) do not need to go to the contact center, reducing the cost of serving customers.

A truly customer-centric experience in omnichannel – in e-commerce, contact center or self-service portal – is the golden path to lasting customer satisfaction and loyalty. When customer-centricity as a guiding principle is built-in into the digital roadmap, businesses are enabled to take the challenge of re-inventing their systems set-up to make customer experience thrive, and not to hamper it. Combining excellent customer experience and sales effectiveness in omnichannel is an art also telecom players can master.

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