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Why Getting the Right Commerce System Can Help Telcos Win and Retain Their Customers

Not just because of the massive complexity of their products, but also the need to offer an integrated interface across all the channels – online, in store and over the phone. If a customer finds that an offer advertised in store is not available online, the operator had lost their confidence and in many cases, a sale.

Today’s market is multi-channel, and today’s operators have to understand how to make every aspect work for them.

Once a customer is won and the sale is made, whether it’s for seven or 700 mobile units, the operator has to forge good links with that customer to ensure they stay throughout the contract life cycle and renew.

All of which means juggling a lot of balls and you drop one at your peril.

This is why many Telcos are looking to consolidate their systems onto a single commerce platform that can support their customer lifecycle journeys, incorporating acquisition and service through each channel - no mean feat - but how do you find the system that will work for you?

Most e-commerce or multi-channel solutions are just not suitable for Telcos without costly and fundamental re-engineering and customisation. They aren’t built to take in any of the resilience or heavy lifting needed to support the complex inventories, contract offerings or billing analysis that are typical of this market. For a Telco commerce platform to deliver real value it has to meet a number of very special requirements.

Customer experience, customer loyalty and retention are all linked, it’s the same for any business where you win then work hard to make sure you retain your customers. Right from the outset an operator has to be able to deliver a consistent, seamless experience. There’s just so much more for a Telco to consider.

While it’s important that the customer can see what’s in the product range, what plans are on offer and what deals are available, there’s also the service element that operators need to get right if they are to increase the business they do. For example, when a customer has purchased a phone, there’s a chance to present them with something extra to buy when they are next online, on their mobile, or speaking to a customer care agent – a new accessory or a chance to upgrade for a special rate. Which means developing a close relationship with them and learning how they use their phones. This includes social networking where operators can capture information that may show product or service preferences within the customer’s social group. Personalising the information each time the customer accesses a channel based on their behaviour patterns is really crucial. It provides the opportunity to enrich the experience by presenting relevant content. The opposite approach may be very damaging. Take, for example, someone who has just purchased an iPhone 5s and then learns that they can upgrade to a new 4G data package at a reduced rate of 50% for the first 6 months. This is meaningful and relevant information. But what happens if that same person finds out that they could have purchased the device 25% cheaper if they had waited another week?

Mix all this with the promotions and subscriptions management and the multiple deal combinations that require sophisticated logic and business tooling to manage them all, and you’ve got a highly complex business model.

The point here is that to be really effective that all this functionality needs to be contained on one single platform. But until now traditional commerce systems haven’t been able to support the huge levels of complexity called for in the Telco arena. This is why telcos are not able to take advantage of the massive opportunities in the enterprise market. They are still utilising business portals that are decidedly ‘retro’ in terms of the functionality they offer and not integrated with any part of the main eCommerce system. Multi-channel commerce is complex, calling for a huge amount of accurate information to be available to the customer and the operator at all times. The opportunities it offers are exciting but it calls for specialised systems that are built for the job, not re-engineered systems that were built for a more general market.