In April, I attended CEM in Telecoms World Summit in Singapore. The overarching theme of the entire summit was customer experience management. All delegates, including myself, had an obvious and sincere interest as empowered decision makers to solve the ever-present issue of poor customer experience in the telco industry. During the two-day event, I hosted a round table that discussed how the future of telco depends on the ability to transact anywhere. I was fascinated to hear the opinions and ideas on the transact anywhere philosophy from the table of telco representatives.
As with most round tables, our group began our discussion by outlining the challenges faced by telcos when considering a Transact-Anywhere approach.
Challenge #1: Driving Digital Performance
From the attendees, the consensus was that the age-old tactic of incentivising salespeople leads to higher performance – like flicking a switch to achieve results. The delegates believed there is a mindset within telco to do things a certain way and “not re-invent the wheel” – which by the way, is a saying I loathe!
In other words, moving from physical to digital was proving to be very difficult for these execs.
How can telcos overcome this barrier?
We discussed merging channels and curating specific customer journeys that lead to sales. If telcos could use their systems to connect a BOPIS (Buy Online Pick Up In Store) sale to a specific commission, or link back a TISBO (Try Instore Buy Online) sale to the store that completed it, carriers could drive sales without paying for the salesperson to produce more effort.
By truly linking sales and marketing in digital channels, carriers can use SEO optimisation, traffic augmentation and proper campaign management to produce results and drive sales in all channels.
Challenge #2: Rural Resistance and Protecting the Salesperson
There is no way of denying that the entire world is urbanising, but that isn’t an excuse for telcos to ignore rural sales.
Many delegates told tales of how physical reps had developed deep, personal relationships with rural customers, and therefore were the drivers of behaviours, new product adoption and responsible for the overall brand relationship.
This dependence highlights the gap between the capability of products and services offered by telcos, and the education or skill level of the average consumer to independently use them.
So, again telcos find themselves using old fashioned, costly methods for driving sales. Adoption of self-care apps and other digital services is between 0% and 30%; it needs to be between 60% to 80% in order to drive digital transactions and cut costs.
On the positive side, this very example shows exactly why retail will never die! However, since the goal of the carrier’s journey from CSP (Communications Service Provider) to DSP (Digital Service Provider) is to introduce technology that automates and cuts costs, simply accepting this “rural problem” will not help telcos transform their business model.
By using the right channels in the right way, and using agents to educate and upskill customers, telcos can hit sales objectives and prepare customers to move to digital products and services.
Telcos can even still use their beloved incentivising model, but for the greater good and the right activities (i.e. $1 for every self-care app download). This is possible with proper systems, that let you track and control these activities.
Challenge #3: Inventory Control and Channel Balance
Channels are always fighting over inventory. The admission from each delegate at the table was that “omni-channel” is a buzzword that only actually exists in a few companies. Not one of the seven countries represented at the table was fully performing an omni-channel operation.
This is astonishing, considering that omni-channel retail has been the objective for telcos since 2011! It’s clear that the entangled web of legacy systems, unclear processes and lack of planning is holding telcos back.
The inability to map customer journeys across channels is hurting the bottom line and making established transaction routes, such as BOPIS and TISBO, impossible.
Few operators out there have grasped the concept of “endless aisle”, whereby an unavailable in-store item can be shipped to a customer. ISPU (Instore Pick Up), which is a variation of BOPIS, is an option for only some operators. But few telcos are using other stores to find the right item – only central warehouses.
SFS (Ship From Store), STS (Ship To Store), and the concept of Vendor DropShip (where you can access a huge catalogue of not stocked inventory from other vendors and have it delivered), are all options not being explored by telcos.
This is shocking. Truly shocking.
Fulfilment, as a strategy, is one that retailers across the world have invested heavily in – except for telcos, apparently. Today’s customers are demanding flexibility, have preferred journeys, and often explore multiple journeys depending on their needs.
Yet, telcos are not investing in new systems that enable tight processes that are designed to satisfy customers. Very frustrating to witness, as a consultant and a consumer.
Customers are not going to wait.
If telcos truly want to modernise and become a lightweight DSP, they must pick up the pace and connect in all channels.
Want to talk more about creating digital customer experiences and omni-channel strategies? Connect with me on LinkedIn!