Imagine yourself at a mobile-service provider's store, waiting to purchase your new cell phone. You scoured the provider's Web site ahead of time, looking for just the right one. You searched discussion boards and forums, asking questions about potential bugs and how others like the device. You are just about to click "purchase" online, but you decide you don't want to wait. You want instant gratification.
But, to your dismay, you have to go through the entire process again since the retail store has no idea how much research you've already put into your purchase. This damages the customer experience, leading potentially to lost revenues. These are the issues Amdocs is looking to solve with its release of Retail Experience Solution, geared toward providing a true multichannel experience that includes physical stores in the mix.
According to Scott Coleman, Amdocs' lead in its customer management division's marketing organization, service providers need to have systems in place enabling them to get the maximum amount of revenue out of every interaction, including in-store ones. "We found the retail channel has become more critical than ever before with the complexity of devices and rate plans," he says. "Customers want to go to stores to close the purchase process."
Customers want to come there, but Coleman cites industry research finding one out of four consumers that do so walk out empty handed, a potential loss of $2.5 billion in revenue in the United States alone. This is a pain point also found by Ashvin Vellody, senior vice president of research and consulting at the Yankee Group.
"In customer experience, operations have unduly focused only on the contact center aspect of the experience," Vellody says. "A huge driver of customer experience is the interaction of customers at the stores. To date, most of the systems for that have been fairly shabby ... and neglected this last mile."
Amdocs' Retail Experience Solution is a productized set of services and functionality geared toward managing customer interactions in service providers' retail stores, including:
- integration with pre-existing CRM, order, billing, service activation, point of sale, and ERP applications; and
- Retail Interaction Manager, helping store representatives handle sales and service interactions with a mobile, process-driven user interface.
"We really needed to address this critical channel," Coleman says. "The idea of multichannel consistency is huge. We needed to look at the whole process, integrate with CRM, and ensure the common product catalog presented on the Web, contact center, and in the store ... is consistent and the same. All the while, also connecting with the point-of-sale system."
Vellody says this is something service providers recognized they needed to do for some time, but have not pulled the trigger. "The desire was there, but the organizational structure and the way these technology projects have been funded haven't allowed for it," he says. "Architecture and organizations themselves have been siloed."
To him, Amdocs must make sure its marketing and selling points are strong in order to convince service providers that this is in fact something new, and not just another siloed channel to add to the stack. "The first job is to make sure its positioning in the marketplace is correct so they can take advantage," he says. "This was something Amdocs had always done based on custom need, but now there is a product for this. It is not a new argument and there have been solutions before, but I believe the siloed approach was taken. This is different."
Vellody's urges more service providers to begin to try and close the loop. "With this solution, the technology can integrate into the back office," he says. "As operations choose and make these calls regarding experience, I hope they encapsulate a more holistic picture around Web, the contact center, and retail."
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