Omnichannel Rising: Operators Must Meet Emerging Customer Omnichannel Demands or Lose to the Digital Brands

Ron Westfall – Research Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

• Operators are consistently performing poorly in customer satisfaction surveys, bearing the brunt of customer ire in how they must deal with them.

• Operators must now provide reliable, personal omnichannel experiences in order to improve customer satisfaction and retention. Failure is not an option since operators must deliver the omnichannel goods or face competitive oblivion.

Operators are unpopular with their customers. Customer satisfaction surveys regularly confirm that over-the-top (OTT) players, including major digital brands like Amazon, Alibaba, Facebook, and Netflix, excel in providing good customer experience, especially in relation to operators. To add insult to injury, operators are seeing their revenues decline, including even from data services – their workhorse source of revenues.

Due to these immense competitive pressures, operators are finally committing to working with their vendor partners, such as Amdocs, Netcracker, Oracle, Ericsson, Huawei, ZTE/ZTEsoft, Openet, and Nokia, in delivering the omnichannel experience to their customers. To be clear, the omnichannel experience is more than delivering customer engagement across multiple and different channels. The omnichannel strategy requires operators to deliver unified, consistent interactions to their subscribers regardless of the channel used, be it online, email, call center, retail outlet, or application. In other words, a customer experience that at least matches or improves upon the digital OTT customer experience.

Operators are showing that delivering the omnichannel experience is worth the effort. For example, Telefonica Germany is using advanced analytics to manage the entire customer journey, understanding how customers use all of their services, problems they have experienced, service complaints and what retention strategies need to be employed. The approach is enabling Telefonica to execute its customer retention strategy, optimizing satisfaction and long-term revenue protection/optimization potential.

Verizon is deploying its Fios chatbot on Facebook Messenger enabling customers to search and find content, provide personalized viewing recommendations and provide customers with home DVR management capabilities. With the chatbot, customers can log into their account and start asking questions conversationally. The chatbot, leveraging artificial intelligence and advanced analytics inputs, scans Verizon’s data bases to answer. The chatbot is designed to make the customer experience more efficient and personal, allowing customers to avoid calling support centers with long waits or engaging in time-consuming, complex online searches. Today the Fios chatbot can make viewing suggestions, deliver viewing on the preferred screen, and access the home DVR from remote locations to make recordings, and Verizon plans to deliver technical support and video on demand (VoD) capabilities in the near future.

There is no going back for operators in executing their omnichannel strategies. The operators that do not successfully build out and execute their omnichannel engagement strategy will likely sink. In contrast, the operators that deliver a rewarding omnichannel experience can expect to compete long-term and will use enhanced omnichannel capabilities like proactive engagement on support needs and delivering personalized service plans to stand out from the crowd. In a nutshell, the emerging era of omnichannel engagement is good news for operator customers.

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