Omnichannel experiences are generating a lot of ink lately, but it’s not a case of marketing hype. A true omnichannel business simply means one with unified data and presentation in the way information and products are offered to customers.
Why the push for omnichannel? It’s not only about improving customer experiences, there’s a financial incentive as well. According to research from IDC, omnichannel shoppers have a 30% higher lifetime value than single-channel shoppers. For telecom providers that operate both their own retail stores and online marketplaces, omnichannel experiences must be executed flawlessly.
Technology Plays an Important Role
In a corporate blog/interview, Mo Siddiqui, Senior Manager for Architecture and Design at Rogers Communications, discusses how technology tools are enabling the company to fulfill the omnichannel goal of a unified customer experience. The company even has a division called the Unified Customer Experience that was purpose-built for omnichannel sales. Mr. Siddiqui states in the interview “We also have another support division call Unified Customer Experience, that’s designed around self-service portals and is all about delivering a consistent customer experience no matter what channel they come across. By consistency, that means information is delivered to the customer the same way, whether they come through the website, walked into a retail store or called the contact center.”
He goes on to say that APIs have been a critical part of delivering omnichannel experiences as it is exposed to different presentation layers such as the web, via mobile, or during interactions with the Rogers customer contact center. This type of technology enables the company to present consistent brand interactions and content, regardless of how (or through which partner) the customer is accessing information.
Sprint and other telecom providers use the cloud to organize and configure different data sets so they can be used to enable omnichannel experiences. Sprint’s digital retail environment runs on iOS, Android and web-view technologies, and a common set of code helps it to reach a wide audience.
Customer Expectations are high
It’s understandable that customers expect their telecom providers to have complete access to account information. The customer themselves can access a wealth of data through their phone, so it’s a reasonable assumption that the customer service agent will be well informed. If the agent tries to upsell a customer on a service that they already have on their account, then a disconnect is created, leaving the customer feeling like “a number” instead of a valued individual.
Companies must ensure their agents are armed with the information they need (while limiting financial and other sensitive data) so an in-store sales associate can see the same notes as the call center employee. A customer that comes into a store with a buggy phone will be impressed if the agent can say “I see you spoke with Megan in our support center about the problem, we have the information and will check your phone out quickly.”
Customers also expect to be able to demo devices in the store and then easily make an online purchase, with the option of shipping to the store or their home. Telecom providers must understand the value of operating their retail stores as a showroom, where customers are encouraged to play and get comfortable with their latest purchase.
Rogers is taking considerable steps to consolidate all of its offered services such as home phone, mobile, internet, and cable, and allowing a single agent to access/modify/delete each type of service. A phone-based agent can perform the same tasks as a retail store representative, and the customer can even use a self-service portal.
Self-Service Portals are Improving Customer Experiece
We’ve explored the growth and benefits of self-service portals in an earlier post, but they deserve mention when it comes to omnichannel experiences. Telecom customers that use such a portal expect to be able to view the same data and account settings that can be seen by service agents. Well-constructed self-service portals allow customers to view account data such as usage and upgrades and to make payments.
It’s vital for these self-service portals to pull from the same data sets as the other customer channels, to avoid the dreaded disconnect and to present a unified customer experience. Done properly, an omnichannel strategy can improve customer loyalty, satisfaction, and ultimately drive higher lifetime revenue.