Managing the Customer Relationship in TelecommunicationsOctober 10 - 10am
In New Zealand’s telecommunications market,the ability to create a desirable user experience that wins new customers and retains themis a critical market differentiator.
It’s vital that providers offer a consistent, integrated and effective interface across multiple channels, both onand offline, throughout the entire buying cycle.
Today’s savvy consumer expects a seamless interaction through any touchpoint they use whether online, mobile, call centre or in store.
The obstacles to achieving this are considerable in a market where customers are always on the lookout for a better deal.
Operators are increasingly looking to consolidate systems onto a single platform capable of supporting their customer lifecycle journeys, incorporating acquisition and service through each channel. However most e-commerce solutions are not suitable for telecom operators.
Many vendors simply re-label a retail e-commerce solution as “Telco” without building any of the resilience needed to support the complex inventories, contract offerings or billing analysis that’s characteristic of the telecommunications landscape.
For a telecom operator commerce platform to deliver real value, it has to meet a number of unique requirements.
Multi-Channel is happening
Customer experience, customer loyalty and retention, and higher ARPU are all linked. An operator needs to deliver a consistent, seamless experience whether this is with telesales, in store or online.
When the customer contacts an organisation, it has to be easy for them to find what they want, then hop from one channel to another ifthey so desire and finally make the purchase.
Once an operator has acquired the customer, they have to find a way to engage with them throughout the entire life cycle,offering appropriate incentives once more is known about them andwhat will interest them.
While it’s important that the customer is able to see what’s in the product range, what plans are on offer and the special deals that are available, there is also the all-important service element that operators have to get right.
This is best achieved through personalising the engagement, an activity that creates a
close relationship between customer and seller. Operators can capture information that shows behaviour patterns through social networking, previous visits to the site and general usage trends and then target offers.
Promotions and Subscriptions Management
Telecom operator propositions are complex by nature. As well as the differences in the way products and services are bundled, there is also the issue of promotions.
In telecoms, it is not just a matter of buy three for the price of two, but the first six months are free, then the rate reverts to “x”, as an example.
Subscription management is a key component, as well as “one off” charging. When a customer signs a contract they are billed on a monthly basis over a period of time. Or it may be a case of initially paying a one off charge.
There are a vast amount ofdeal combinations that require sophisticated logic and business tooling to manage them.
A commerce solution for a telecom operator must also take account of a customer ordering process that is a lot more complex than in standard B2C retail. There is the need to communicate with a variety of backend systems for order dissemination.
These orders have to be orchestrated so that information is passed to billing systems, distributors and content providers, depending on the service ordered. And this process has to be synchronised with delivery to the customer, whether it be drop ship, direct delivery, content delivery or a combination.
The point here is that all of the functionality needs to be contained in one single platform.
The B2B difference
Enterprise users are probably more valuable to the operator, but often overlooked with more emphasis being placed on B2C. In recent years, a new generation of corporate customer has emerged.
Tech savvy and demanding, they want innovative service offerings, on-demand local service delivery and self-care opportunities. And as consumers in their own right, they expect B2B vendors to offer many of the sophisticated e-commerce features encountered in the B2C world.
Multi-channel commerce is complex, calling for a huge amount of accurate information to be available to the customer and the operator 24/7.
It’s an exciting way forward but it needs specialised systems, built for the job, not adapted or re-engineered systems designed for the general B2B or B2C markets.
By Peter Conquest, Business Development Director, Telco, at hybris