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Telco & Retail: An Opportunity to Lead by Example

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Often CSP’s will turn to traditional retailers, wondering about how to unlock their secrets of Customer Experience.  That interest is growing especially in these days of focus on enhanced digital experiences.  CSP’s will often look to market leaders like Northface, Target, Apple, Lululemon – and many others.  There is an irony in this.  As retailers are racing to blend the physical and the digital experiences of their customers’ journeys, CSP’s already do this.  Traditional retailers are, in general, transaction focused – selling products.  CSP’s are subscription focused.  The fundamental question for the CSP is really how well are they doing it; and how well are they leveraging the experience and attention of their connected customer.

Telco retailers have long been in the business of selling (digital) services through products which naturally brings together the physical and digital world.  Their retail mandate is to drive that integrated customer experience even closer to the edge of the four walls of the store.  They need to address their fundamental question of “what is the role of the store” for CSP’s.  Selling services through products naturally enables elongated customer experiences:  bill pay, top-off, service transactions, plan enhancements, but how does the store participate in selling – and maintaining – subscriptions along with device upgrades and maintenance?

By capitalizing on the power of customer analytics and omnichannel capabilities, CSP’s will deliver contiguous, curated touch points across all channels of the customer journey – including the retail store.  As the customer experience becomes fully digitalized, even the point of transaction could be handed back to the customer as part of an elongated digital experience.  In-store is the opportunity to fully blend the physical and digital by bringing together awareness of the customer with in-store intent.

The telco retail position requires sophisticated, value-add technologies to better serve customers, enable associates, and improve operations through real-time visibility.  Four wall digital technology should include such solutions as:  Customer location tracking to support shopper traffic analysis and day-part merchandising; Store Associates on the selling floor collaborating with customers with real-time customer and product information; Living store solutions that make visible store shelf inventory, product movement, pricing and promotion dynamics, and customer behavior – physical and digital.  What if your customers could shop your store like they were shopping the web – browsing broad product categories, having rich product information and reviews in hand, personalizing buying decisions thr­­ough experiential simulation technology, Associates knowing what are the best solutions for that customer based on their usage model.  What if your customers could make buying and activation decisions just like on the web?  What if your customers could have buying options that met their immediate needs, like:  buy online and pick up in store, buy in any channel and return to store, get help from any channel?  What if your customers could make in-store appointment times that meet their needs and time schedule, or know before they go availability on the products that they are interested in?  What if your customers could learn about services and get educated on products and services at your store?  What if shopping your store meant that customers could serve themselves from order to activation, get help from an Associate when they need it, and drive their own store experience?  Telco can be leaders in retailing by leveraging their core capabilities — self-serve transactions in the store, augmented reality, guided selling, customer locator services – all based on the device in hand and flawless communication services. While all of the above might seem an obvious and laudable goal, the reality for many CSPs is that their current back-end systems are disparate and difficult to enable for shared consistent data views.  Legacy systems are hindering the ability to provide that real-time single customer experience.  IBM’s perspective is that we have a solution for this.

 

To learn more about IBMs solutions and point of view, visit IBM Telecommunications Industry.

Director Sales, Global TME Industry

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