The speed at which offline experiences shift to the digital world outruns the ability of various industries to transform challenges into growth opportunities. The online environment brings a new series of market aspects to businesses: stronger non-traditional competitors, price pressure and better-informed consumers that urge them to rethink their business models.
This is good news for telecom operators, because the online medium is strongly linked to the mobile experience today, to which telcos are innately connected.
Many telcos currently manage their channels as separate entities, and being isolated from each other leads them to a form of market cannibalization. As a result, customers receive different offers and recommendations that match the channels particularities more than the telco’s overall brand experience. Each channel has its own representation of customer data and customers perceive each channel differently.
For the end user, this translates into a painful shopping experience, as channel switching produces confusing results if the telco isn’t prepared to support this interaction model. Omnichannel commerce comes as a response to the multi-channel shopping that defines customer behavior and allows telcos to project one single consistent brand image via all available channels. Implementing omnichannel commerce comes through business and technical transformation.
The roadmap would imply pursuing the following:
- Adopt a commerce platform solution for leveraging the power of the existing backend systems and power the telco’s online channel (eShop).
- Consider a commerce-based SelfCare application, rather than a CRM-based SelfCare.
- Make the most of the mobile platform channel (e.g.: react to customers being in the proximity of telco shops, for instance, or in the proximity of telco-sponsored events).
Customized mobile internet plans
This buzzing demand for real-time information transformed smartphones into newspapers, calendars, chat devices and most of all wallets.
The We Are Social ”Global Digital Statistics 2014” report states that there are around 13.7 million active mobile subscribers in UAE, out of which 38 percent made a purchase via their phone. That points to a high degree of internet usage and to a great opportunity for telcos to attract subscribers by satisfying their need to stay connected without any unnecessary concerns.
Diversified service portfolio
Telcos have the huge advantage of already holding a large customer base, the infrastructure in place and of being trusted. Based on all these, they can consider diversifying the services they offer, in an attempt to fulfil better the customer needs, attract new ones and increase ARPU. Examples of such services, already offered by some telcos, are:
- Personal Cloud services
- B2B Cloud Services
- IP TV services
- Entertainment Mobile Apps
Maintain customer trust
As mentioned before, telcos are already operating in a habitat where trust is essential. Customer trust can be earned via predictable and consistent customer interaction through all channels, transparent billing, usage statistics and a secure service delivery. Considering the previous recommendations, Omni-channel commerce will lead to increased customer interaction, due to the multitude of channels. Security is paramount – the customer expects their data, interactions and services in a safe manner.
A PayPal study reports that people would rather leave the house without their wallet than forget their phone. In such context, no wonder mobile commerce has broadened its margins. One in 5 people are looking for easier ways to pay on mobile devices. Security is a basic need and Maslow’s Pyramid testifies to it. Users still seek for this need to be fulfilled in the digital environment, especially when it concerns their financial safety. Telcos that understand the importance of such an essential factor could be one step ahead of the competition.
The recommendations above are not easy to implement – they imply a business and a technical transformation for telcos. However, the telcos have the advantage of being accustomed to changes as they operate in an industry that has evolved very quickly (devices, services, delivery methods, etc.), so one could say rapid adaptation to change is in a successful telco’s DNA.
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By Octav Prihoi
Technical Lead, iQuest