The $4.6B Omni-channel Opportunity

By: Andy Tiller

Whichever way operators look today, the pressure is on. Traditional revenues are declining and the EU has ruled that roaming charges will be abolished by 2017. Operators need to invest in ever-faster networks and deliver smarter services to keep up with their competitors – and all the while there is the constant challenge of keeping customers happy and loyal by delivering excellent customer service.

Keep your customers satisfied, and they will not only reward you with their loyalty, but also be receptive to new products and services, which in turn create new revenue streams. That’s an obvious statement that applies to any organization.  Mobile operators, however, have traditionally not been top of the list when customer service awards are handed out.

In researching the impact that transforming customer service could have on an operator’s business, we found that detailed business cases for telecoms were not readily available. AsiaInfo therefore commissioned independent research consultants Northstream to investigate this business case, while also looking at best practice outside the mobile industry to see what lessons operators could learn.

The study focused on omni-channel customer engagement, providing service agents with a single view of all customer services and interactions across all channels – call center, retail store, website, self-care and social apps.  A key aspect of omni-channel engagement is that customers can switch from one channel to another during any transaction or dialog without needing to start over (for example, an agent in a retail store can help a customer complete an order starting from a partially filled shopping cart in the web shop).  Furthermore, customer behavior in one channel influences the personalized offers they receive in other channels (for example, a customer who ‘likes’ a particular phone on Facebook would see a personalized offer for that phone when logging on to the operator’s website).

Many vertical industries are implementing omni-channel CRM because it brings results. Northstream’s research in the finance and retail vertical markets showed that implementing omni-channel capability has the potential to overhaul the customer experience, improve efficiencies across the business, deliver cost savings and drive up revenues.

In applying these findings to the telecoms market, Northstream undertook extensive interviews with European operators. Their conclusion is that, with a well-implemented omni-channel CRM solution, Western European operators collectively could save up to $4.6 billion in OPEX annually. The IT OPEX cost savings for individual operators are potentially massive – up to 30% for some Western European service providers – savings that can be reinvested elsewhere to improve competitiveness.

The Northstream research demonstrated that, as well as the immediate OPEX savings, an omni-channel approach could also help to increase sales revenue. The impact on operator revenues could be significantly more that the cost savings. Improving the customer experience can both save money and create revenue.

So how do operators join the omni-channel world? Customer touch-points have long become multi-channel, evolving from in-store, mail and telephone to include online, SMS, email, smartphone apps and multiple social networks. For mobile operators, a multi-channel presence is now a basic requirement, and they have been quick to provide this for their customers. However, multi-channel means multiple separate channels, which do not offer a single customer view – rather they create lots of separate snapshots.


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