Telecom has found itself in the midst of a much-changed consumer environment in 2021. With more consumers staying at home, the omnichannel experiences they come to expect starkly contrast with those of the past. Mobility has taken a backseat to broadband as national downstream peak traffic has surged 27% since March 2020. These shifting priorities leave us with the question: what does an omnichannel customer experience look like with people increasingly at home?
For years many telecoms perfected consumer engagement via mobile phone. But the need to focus on connected devices—smart TVs, laptops, voice, digital agents, and more—requires a sophisticated MarTech stack. A majority of our telecom clients are now analyzing these connected experiences and using real-time predictive capabilities to reach out to customers.
But to step back a bit, it was a long-known fact that customer journeys were asymmetric in nature. Before, I could compare an iPhone 12 and Samsung 20 on my phone, and log onto my carrier website to look for any upgrade offers. I could then walk into a store to hold the physical phone and get a feel for it, and perhaps buy it on the spot. Of course, the fun starts when one does not follow this anticipated customer journey and adds a phone in the shopping cart, before bouncing off to other social sites and competitors for reviews and recommendations.
And then COVID-19 hit us. This suddenly emphasized doing all things digitally or over the phone. Omnichannel customer experience management took a sharp right towards digital purchases and telecom companies urgently needed to understand the right digital buying signals to elicit a purchase. One could easily see a gap between all the online targeting, personalization, and analytics capabilities that telecom companies had stacked on one side for optimizing the in-channel web and mobile experience, and the newly accentuated need to converge customer signals across all channels to determine the next best actions specific to each customer.
This challenge calls for innovative ways of mixing in existing marketing technologies, including CMS, personalization, and analytics, along with new capabilities in CXM to redefine omnichannel for digital. This can be broken down into three parts—analyze your customer’s intent, define how you will react, and reach out to the customer in-time using innovative means.
Analyzing Customer Intent
Knowing in real-time what your customer is looking for across channels is the foundation of omnichannel customer experience, and it is essential to focus on the customer’s end-to-end journey—not just the customer’s current interaction with one of your touchpoints. Collecting, combining, and analyzing customer data across digital, traditional stores, and customer service channels are key features of platforms that offer Customer Journey Analytics; these are also capabilities that many telecom companies have built upon in recent years.
While some organizations built similar analytics capabilities in-house, platforms such as Adobe AEP bring the bundled, accelerated capability of combining such analysis with a real-time CDP and journey orchestration, turning journey analytics into real-time actions on the most appropriate medium for the present customer journey stage.
Reacting to Customers’ Needs with Journey Orchestration
Armed with such real-time insights along with a unified view of what the customer is looking for, telecom companies are now able to customize their subsequent response (next best actions) to each customer’s needs. Leveraging an integrated customer profile and customer segments from their CDPs, journey orchestration engines help pivot from running marketer-initiated strategies for customer experience management into real-time, adaptable interactions based on each customer’s latest actions.
In my example of comparing an iPhone 12 and Samsung 20, my carrier could quickly analyze my device and purchase history data to build a propensity model for a purchase, and determine its next best action. This could include showing more content from its CMS to assist with my comparison or delivering offers through Adobe Target to nudge a purchase.
Reach Out and Humanize Digital Interactions
COVID-19 has caused fewer foot-traffic in stores, and we seem to have lost the physical part of customer interactions. This has exposed a second gap: traditional websites exist as pull-based marketing channels with thousands of content pages waiting to be discovered by the customer. Email marketing served as an effective follow-up to abandoned shopping carts, but emails could not seize upon the moment with the customer at your digital doorstep. It is time to rebuild the in-store experience of interactions leveraging online, intelligent customer assistants. While chatbots may have had their small role to play here, the larger game is to build a virtual channel layer over existing web, mobile, and voice tools, pushing relevant content from your CMS and next best action recommendations from the journey orchestration engine. Furthermore, with the advent of 5G, video streaming has become more prevalent. Humanized video assistance, such as a 5-second video clip of a store rep, could now capture your customer’s attention.
While comparing the iPhone and Samsung phones, the online customer assistant bot could analyze any relevant content through its CMS to deliver personalized recommendations. Better yet, a video bot of a store rep handling the phone and explaining its features could excite me to make a purchase.
Taking an omnichannel approach to customer experiences can help telecoms leverage multiple channels of engagement. As the customer experience evolves in the face of rapidly shifting, pandemic-related constraints and emerging realities, telecoms can meet their customers where they’re at, with what they want, at the right time, by combining existing marketing assets with new CXM capabilities.
VP, Digital Experience Technologies