Monday Mar 26, 2012

Customer Experience Management for Retail 2.0 - part 2 / 2

In the previous post, i discussed some of the key trends shaping up in the retail industry, their implications and the challenges facing retailers seeking to regain control of the buyer-seller relationship.

Is Customer Experience Management the panacea for the ailing retailers who are now awakening to the power of the consumer?

Quite honestly, customer acquisition, retention and satisfaction have been top of mind for retailers for quite some time now. The missing piece of this puzzle is bringing all those countless hours of strategy and planning to fruition. This is more of an execution gap than anything else.

Although technology has made consumers more informed, more mobile and more social, customer experience is still largely defined by delivering on the following:

  • Consistent experiences, whether shopping online or offline
  • Personalize-able interaction ("mass market" sounds good as an internal strategy but not when you are a buyer!)
  • Timely order fulfillment, if not pro-active notification of delays

Below is a concept architecture for streamlining front-end, mid-office and back-end interfaces through shared process to achieve consistency and efficiency in managing the customer experience from order capture to order provisioning.

Friday Mar 09, 2012

Customer Experience Management for Retail 2.0 - part 1 / 2

Retail 2.0 represents the transformation in the retail industry triggered by the accelerated shift towards online and mobile technologies and social shopping paradigms. Never before has the consumer been of more importance or should i say in greater control, especially so due to the shrinking information asymmetry between merchants and consumers that has tilted the balance of power in the latter’s favor.

The graphic below outlines the key consumer trends and their implications for retailers.

Traditional, multi-channel customer experience strategies segmented customers based on channel-specific purchase cycles. However, this approach is unable to cope with today’s complex purchase journey’s that involve touch-points across multiple channels. The graphic below depicts the purchase journey of a retail consumer today.

Clearly, customer experience management for Retail 2.0 merits more than just re-branding of existing multi-channel integration strategies as customer experience management! So what should retail merchants do, in order to attract, engage, convert and retain the new-age consumer who is equipped with mobile and internet technologies to make any-time, any-place purchase decisions?

In the next post, i will share a concept architecture of streamlining customer interaction processes with BPM to integrate offer management, order capture and order provisioning to drive improvements in Customer-Lifetime Value, Just-in-Time inventory and supply management, and sales- efficiency by enabling a connected, consistent and seamless multi-channel experience.

Friday Jan 20, 2012

Gain the Customer-Service Advantage with Agile Order-cycle Processes

Communications Service Providers (CSPs) are faced with declining voice revenues; hyper-competition from increasing number of IP network based providers and customer demand for integrated telephony, mobile, TV and internet services. While “Triple play” or “Quadruple play” offerings have become the norm, CSPs are experiencing increasing customer churn and revenue-leakage arising from errors and delays in order management across order-capture and order-provisioning.

Let me outline the operational challenge that limits the pursuit of streamlined and integrated order orchestration processes. Legacy OSS/BSS systems have stove-pipe order management systems and processes that are aligned to customer segments, service types or service bundles. This has the following implications:

  • increased complexity in on-demand and converged services provisioning
  • poor estimation of actual demand (in terms of order being processed in the BSS systems) and thus poor network capacity and inventory planning
  • stop-gap workarounds for order orchestration unable to cope with increasing order volume and converged service offering complexity

So what are the business implications for a CSP of a fragmented order-cycle?

Firstly, this leads to revenue leakage stemming from order fallout due to the following factors:

  • delays in orchestrating orders such as service bundles across OSS/BSS silos
  • errors in provisioning converged services due to fragmented view of orders e.g. "triple play"

Secondly, CSPs experience customer churn with dissatisfaction resulting from

  • in-flexibility in changing in-flight orders without un-doing them or incurring a penalty
  • expectation-reality gap with untimely and error-prone provisioning belying CSP promises

One possible solution lies in building a light-weight BPM layer between customer-interaction channels and OSS CRM systems as well as between BSS Order Management systems and the OSS silos (in some cases the OSS SDP layer). The benefit of a single order pipe and centralized order orchestration layer will be as follows:

  1. Improved tracking and status reporting of multi-part orders e.g converged services
  2. Timely and accurate provisioning with "in-flight" order customization and lower error-rates of multi-part orders
  3. Lower order fallout and abandonment resulting from reduction in order processing error-rates

Below is a concept architecture for overcoming the organizational, technological and converged services complexity to achieve order-cycle agility.

While Service Delivery Platforms can and have unified the order flow within individual OSS, BSS and organizational silos, the frontier in customer service advantage lies in unifying order flows at the edge to deliver consistent experience to external stakeholders especially customers. Moving to next generation services creates an opportunity to differentiate through timely and accurate provisioning of converged services.Hence CSPs need to harmonize order-cycle processes, across traditional OSS/BSS ‘silos’ and multiple business units, to deliver true on the promise of offering single-point-of-contact (SPOC) converged communication services for businesses and consumers alike.


A business centric perspective on Private Cloud, Data-center Modernization and EAI.

Sanjeev Sharma
Twitter: @sanjeevio


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