Omni Channel - Get the basics right!
'Omni Channel' by definition involves delivering a seamless customer experience across channels. It is a customer centric experience. It enables a customer to use channels simultaneously and switch between channels during the course of a transaction. The definition of Omni-channel has been around for a few years now, but implementing it is easier said than done. In this blog, I will try and articulate the basic setup that a Telecom Service provider needs to have to deliver an Omni Channel experience.
Two main challenge areas:
Strategy: If the Telco follows a channel focused approach with no master Omni-channel strategy, each channel will determine its own tactics, leading to potential conflicts. Eg: The retail channel may launch an offer for a price x while the online channel may launch a similar offer with price y. The channel with the lower priced offer will end up cannibalizing the sales of the other channel.
Technology: There are various kind of silos in a Telco's ecosystem. In most cases, the Telco has different stacks to fulfill their different product lines. There can be further bi-furcation based on the types of customers (consumer, enterprise, wholesale). This is a big barrier to an Omni channel delivery as the communication across channels is essentially broken on some or the other parameter.
The below diagram illustrates an approach to Omni-channel delivery:
While the layers in the diagram are self-explanatory, I would like to focus on the technology abstraction layer. This layer is needed in order to make the channels agnostic of the technical complexities that lie within the multi-stack ecosystem. The various components to be abstracted are
• Customer 360 : Channels should get a 360 view of the customer across stacks and should be able to view the relevant transactions.
• Product and offer catalog: Products and offers should be consistently available across the channels, irrespective of which stack fulfils them. Bundling should be enabled and driven by business requirements and not based on the constraints of the fulfilling stack.
• Transaction context: The context of the transaction being currently performed by the customer needs to be maintained in a common container and be available across channels. This will enable the customer to initiate a transaction from one channel and continue it on another.
• Rules and recommendations: Rules such as next best offer, customer churn management need to be available in a common repository so that they could be applied across channels.
• Channel Processing: The abstraction layer should be able to determine the treatment of the transaction based on its origination channel and route it to the right stack.
• Order management: The order may need to be broken up and be routed to various downstream stacks based on where it can be fulfilled. Order statuses would further need to be consolidated.
In my next blog on this topic, I will substantiate the above approach with a use case. Till then, please share your thoughts on any other approaches to achieve an Omni-Channel experience in a fragmented Telco environment.