Is omni-channel more disadvantage than advantage for telcos?

In our post on Monday, we discussed how some commodity providers have a structural advantage through lower cost of production (eg Rio Tinto in iron ore). Telcos have the potential to achieve a similar advantage on their commodity services too.

It also mentioned that the first principle behind that advantage is simplicity (of systems, overheads, processes, offerings, etc). Many of these simplification factors are controllable by our OSS/BSS, but most just end up with us as a result of up-stream decisions that flow to us for resolution. These decisions (eg running 50+ mobile offering variants including grandfathered services) make our OSS/BSS far more complex.

Another example is omni-channel customer engagement, which includes:

  • Call centres
  • Digital / websites
  • Email
  • SMS
  • Chatbots
  • Mobile Apps
  • IVR (Interactive Voice Response)
  • Social channels
  • Smart-home assistants
  • USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data)

I completely get that we want to allow customers (or potential customers) to choose the contact mechanism/s they’re most comfortable with. Tight coupling / orchestration across these channels is important for customer loyalty.

Unfortunately, the task of coordinating all of these systems is complex. Linking and tracking customer journeys through multiple channels is even more challenging. For example, websites and IVR channels don’t require customers to self-identify, making it difficult to cross-link with in app touch-point data where identification is inherent. Some flows are personalised, some are interactive, some are batched. 

Gaining consolidated insights from these disparate data sources is imperative for customer satisfaction. 

Clearly a typical telco omni-channel story doesn’t represent simplicity, especially for the OSS/BSS that support it! That presents a barrier to achieving the cost of production advantage we discussed.

How do telcos compare with Apple, Amazon, Google and others? Do they offer as many customer contact channels? Do they have as many variants in their “extended supply chain?” Do they have as many potential fall-out points in their O2A, T2R, P2O, etc workflows? It appears to me that most telcos are at a structural disadvantage here (on costs and CX).

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave us your perspectives in the comments section below.  

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