The concept of omni-channel has been around for ages, so long in fact that it has become one of those cover-all buzzwords that has started to lose meaning. So before we go any further let’s define what it is, and how it is different from another overused (and often misunderstood) buzzword ‘multi-channel’.
A multi-channel presence has become a basic requirement for operators, with the digital channel in particular taking center stage. Operators have altered their business models from single-channel to multi-channel. They are now accessible to customers across multiple channels. However, this is only really meaningful if a customer chooses to start and complete a transaction in the same channel.
Omni-channel, meanwhile, is the inevitable evolution to reduce the complexity and to stop the “ping pong” effect of multi-channel, whereby a customer is frequently forced to reinitiate the dialogue with the operator when entering via another channel. At its best, omni-channel delivers the great promise of subscribers moving fluidly between devices and shopping and communication channels, with the operator in lockstep with their customer in real time and able to add value to their relationship, e.g. with personalized service and promotions.
Today’s operators need to leverage every customer interaction in real-time to understand the customer’s motivations and maximize every engagement opportunity. Doing so leads to increased wallet spend, higher satisfaction and a deeper relationship with the customer across all channels. The ‘soft’ benefits of moving to an omni-channel environment are far from lost on operators. But however compelling the omni-channel concept, there has, until now, been a lack of information regarding concrete omni-channel implementations, with their associated challenges and benefits.
There is a cost involved in implementing omni-channel, and so the plus side of the business case also needs to be examined quantitatively. We commissioned independent research consultants, Northstream, to study how organizations in a variety of verticals have realized the benefits associated with the omni-channel capabilities of next generation CRM, and to quantify the benefits to the telecoms sector in particular.
Northstream’s quantitative analysis revealed potential OPEX savings of up to $4.6 bn annually for Western European mobile operators. Of course, the impact of omni-channel can vary greatly amongst different operators depending on many factors – in particular, how flexible the operator’s IT architecture and infrastructure are today – but the potential aggregated industry savings appear to be quite significant, according to Northstream’s findings.