The FINANCIAL — Huawei and Vodafone, a leading Communications Service Provider (CSP), presented the results of their collaboration to develop an omni-channel solution framework for CSPs at the recent TM Forum Catalyst InFocus event in Dallas, Texas.
Differing from existing multi-channel and cross-channel operations, omni-channel seeks to greatly improve the customer experience. An omni-channel enabled CSP supports seamless interactions across all channels, remembering context to create surprise and delight opportunities for customers. Typically negative contacts, such as customer care enquiries or raising complaints, can be turned into positive outcomes for both parties.
This customer experience improvement is achieved through a number of omni-channel’s unique capabilities. With omni-channel, the customer is provided with a seamless and consistent customer experience regardless of the channel used, allowing the customer much greater control of how they interact with the CSP. The customer has the freedom to choose their preferred channel and then change channel as they wish, while being able to interrupt and resume a transaction at any point. For example, a customer can return to complete an order with a call center from an earlier abandoned online shopping cart, according to Huawei.
Omni-channel leverages powerful personalization capabilities developed from stored and persistent customer information and inferred intent. The inference and decision capabilities of an omni-channel solution, together with integration to multiple systems such as CRM, NPS, OSS, location data, touch point and persona data, allow real-time “in call” or “in session” solutions to be offered to customers. This can often be automatic, without requirement for human intervention, thereby reducing costs and improving first call resolution efficiency and success rates.
In addition, customer preference sensing means that although real-time responses to customer needs is possible, a human contact via outbound call or email invitation can be utilized if preferred, in order to achieve better outcomes.
The use cases developed in this Catalyst project are designed to reduce customer frustration by correctly solving a customer’s problem or query on first contact in any channel, eliminating multiple authentications, hand-off between agents, repetition of problem statements etc.
As the project manager of this Catalyst project, Huawei is leading other vendors working closing with Vodafone to promote the adoption of omni-channel across its markets.
“Vodafone’s involvement in the Catalyst aims to support two key themes,” said Paul Blake, Principal Customer Management Enterprise Architect at Vodafone Group.
“We wanted to continue our extensive internal research in optimizing the customer experience in an omni-channel environment, as part of an open industry forum to drive development of the evolving standards and best practices in the digital journey design. Most importantly, this is part of a wider, pan-Vodafone CARE initiative to focus on every aspect of our customer experience, to make it the best we can, ensuring our customers are always in control.”
The Catalyst project with Vodafone spans the entire customer journey including the buy, use and share phases defined by the TM Forum.
One key challenge of the Catalyst project is to align the objectives of the different parties in the omni-channel value chain. Omni-channel is a relatively new area for CSPs. As Erik Brynjolfsson, Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business puts it: “There is a lot of reinvention that needs to get done. This is new territory for everybody.”
New skills and ways of working are required and the learning curves are steep.
“The bar for excellent customer experience is being set by companies like Amazon where delivering across multiple channels in a seamless fashion, providing a personalized customer experience and predicting what the customer will want next are the core of how they do business,” Rebecca Sendel, Senior Director, Customer Centricity Program in the TM Forum. “The CSPs need to deliver this type of service as this is the expectation of their customers now. The omni-channel Catalyst is an outstanding collaborative effort to accelerate the process of meeting and exceeding customer expectations in a CSP environment all while providing thought leadership in the industry.”
Through this Catalyst project collaboration, the Huawei and Vodafone joint team are leading the way in improving customer experience through an omni-channel capability built on customer journey management, personalization, responsive intelligent systems and channel consistency. Additionally, Huawei’s new market positioning as a seasoned system integrator, with strong business architecture and agile development capabilities, means that good progress is being made in the realization of omni-channel operation’s potential for CSPs.
Additional omni-channel capabilities will be demonstrated at the TM Forum Action Week in Nice, France in May 2016.