David StarkDavid StarkApril 12, 2018


For any organisation operating in the telecoms sector, seizing competitive advantage is a greater challenge now than ever before.

Consumers have an ever-expanding array of choice when it comes to products, and the omnichannel nature of modern shopping means that it can be difficult to stand out amongst all the noise. At the same time, rising inflation and continued economic uncertainty are contributing to a decrease in consumer confidence.

In order to overcome these challenges and ensure that they differentiate themselves from the competition, it is crucial that telcos embrace more innovative approaches to customer engagement and product selection, especially in a world where options such as quad-play bundles are making these processes increasingly complex. These approaches should be implemented in the here and now, well ahead of the advent of potentially disruptive technologies such as 5G.

In today’s environment, price, product, and quality are a given, so organisations need to do something else to make their mark. One way of achieving this is by prioritising ease when it comes to building a positive Customer Experience; the modern consumer is becoming more and more demanding in terms of the level of service and personalisation they expect, so it is vital that service providers are able to deliver this. At the same time, reducing misselling and propensity to call (PTC) – and therefore the need to deal with costly, unnecessary customer queries – is key here.

The evolving nature of the telecoms sector

When it comes to selling products, the telecoms sector has become considerably diverse and multi-faceted, as consumers look to take advantage of shopping through a range of channels. Online has become pervasive. Mobile offers an unrivalled level of convenience, and the not-too-distant prospect of 5G technology brings a great deal of promise.

Physical stores still hold an important place in the sales mix. While this evolution of telecoms has brought a much greater deal of choice to consumers, the researching, finding, and purchasing of a product can be a drawn-out process.

It is no longer sufficient to simply offer a wide-ranging, multichannel shopping experience without putting plenty of time into ensuring that the experience is easy, informative, and trouble-free. Omnichannel selling has immense potential, but it can only be a long-term success if purchasing is convenient enough that customers will keep coming back.

The same goes for 5G when it eventually becomes a reality: smooth, reliable connectivity is a powerful enabler of digital convergence across all sales channels, but there is much that retailers need to do right now to keep customer experiences fresh, informative and convenient.

Meeting the customer challenge

Any telco leader will recognise the importance of understanding the needs of customers. However, the modern consumer represents a new challenge, which cannot be effectively met without a fresh approach to easing the customer journey.

Firstly, the behaviour of consumers is being governed by the current climate of economic hardship and uncertainty. While unemployment in the UK is low, inflation is on the up and the lack of clarity around Brexit is having an adverse effect on consumer confidence. When this is combined with a shopping experience that is long-winded, difficult to understand, and lacking in personalisation, consumers are more than likely to be turned off from making purchases.

At the same time, the wide availability of technology and the proliferation of new purchasing channels has meant that the bar has been raised as far as customer expectations are concerned. Consumers demand simplicity and ease when browsing, selecting, and buying products, and expect at least a degree of personalisation when trying to navigate through a series of complex purchasing options.

As an example, research conducted by socPub discovered that 57 percent of mobile users would not recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site. If companies fail to provide this level of ease, prospective customers may leave a store or abandon a basket without spending any money, or they may be compelled to return products after being sold an item that fails to meet their needs.

Easing the complexities

So what can telecoms companies do to turn these complex purchases into simple journeys? One way to make a difference is by adopting technology designed to streamline the customer engagement experience and increase personalisation, by focusing on the needs of customers and providing recommendations to meet them. After all, research has shown that 94 percent of customers who reported low effort in purchasing expressed an intention to buy again, and 88 percent said they would increase their spending. This is where intelligent guided selling (IGS) has a part to play.

IGS works by prompting and guiding customers through a logical sequence of decisions, driving customer conversion and satisfaction by adding an extra element of theatre to the buying experience. The software makes intelligent, needs-based recommendations by combining data from CRM and loyalty systems, input from lifestyle assessments and business rules covering product criteria, margin, and stock information.

It can be easily integrated with an existing CRM system in order to link up with resources such as price comparisons and customer reviews, and can be employed through all sales channels.

Effectively, the technology significantly reduces the time and effort that customers need to invest in buying products, making them more likely to spend both in higher amounts and on more regular a basis, and reducing PTC and churn by ensuring that they always end up purchasing the right products and services. This represents a positive change that can be made in the present, ahead of new technologies such as 5G and the impact they will have on addressing challenges attached to enriching the Customer Experience.

Differentiating in a competitive world

To truly stand out in an environment where so many players are vying for supremacy, and where customers are facing a series of challenges to their confidence, telcos need to do what they can to take the customer engagement experience to a new level. Offering all the products in the world will mean nothing if consumers are not given that little bit extra to guide them through the process and reduce the amount of effort involved in making a purchase.

Misselling and PTC represent a burden that any telco should be keen to avoid. Real-time, needs-based personalisation through intelligent guided selling is key to this endeavour; by increasing this, repeat purchases and long-term customer loyalty are much more likely to become a reality.


David StarkDavid StarkMarch 4, 2016


Showrooming can be both a threat and an opportunity for retailers. In our modern mobile age, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. According to an Econsultancy report, 43% of UK shoppers are using their smartphones whilst in-store to compare prices and read reviews. Showrooming is a trend born of our increased 4G-enabled world, of consumer’s greater connection to their devices and, of course, the savvy shopper’s ever-keen eye for a bargain.

Again not a surprise but a real threat nonetheless. Just ask the former employees of British camera retailer Jessops who, upon hearing the brand had gone into administration in 2013, posted a picture in their shop window that read “The staff at Jessops would like to thank you for shopping with Amazon”. It is evidence that digital disruption can have a real impact on what names we see, and will continue to see, on our high street.


However, we like to focus on the opportunities as much as the threats and we believe showrooming has a place in British retail as a tool for good so here’s our top showrooming opportunities for your brand.

Be Competitive, Be Comparable

A retailer’s response to “be competitive” usually falls at the door of pricing and instantly translates to “be cheaper”. However, we all know pricing wars are not a sustainable battle and, in many cases, can have detrimental effects on customer opinion by cheapening your brand. So if you can’t be competitive on price alone then you need to be competitive in service and that’s where simple tools such as free in-store Wi-Fi, branded mobile apps, in-the-moment coupons and in-store advisory engagements could help.

The opportunity for brands to own the in-store mobile experience cannot be ignored. If a customer is using 4G to access reviews, additional product information or a better deal then owning the gateway could be one of the top opportunities a retailer has for up or cross-selling in-store. Try using branded mobile apps to show videos or additional content to help the customer make a purchase decision, then team that with location and personalisation to your advantage by offering trigger-based incentives along the journey. There’s no better time to offer a discount of a product then when a potential customer is ten feet away from your till. Something Tesco learnt when combining Clubcard data to give instant discounts when customers logged onto their in-store Wi-Fi.

Another clever option is to follow in the footsteps of the likes of telco companies, who are empowering in-store sales staff by arming them with handheld tablets such as those loaded with the RIPPL™ guided sales tool. This powerful omnichannelsolution streamlines online, in-store, and call centre sales and service teams, focusing on individual customer needs and providing an advisory-style engagement experience that exceeds their expectations.


Connecting the customer journey to allow brands to promote advocacy, allow for cross-sell opportunities and put the power of customer experience in the hands of retailers has never been more important, and the platform eases friction, speeds up sales and quickly identifies the customers best deal without them taking to their own mobile or tablet to identify other, possibly competitor, deals.

The best part? If a potential customer does leave the physical store empty handed, RIPPL™ is designed to follow them along their journey, so companies are able to email about deals spoken about in store, and any call centre advisor will be able to pick up from where an in-store advocate left off in just a few clicks.

Add Physical Value

Physical value is built upon the customer experience. If a website can offer reviews or cheaper prices, what can your store offer to make it stand out? How can a retailer use the same device customers are using in-store to their advantage?

We’ve already talked about offering connectivity as a service but how about using ‘reverse showrooming’ as a tactic. Also known as web rooming, reverse showrooming is when a consumer researches online first but goes into a physical store to complete the purchase and it is very much powered by customer experience. Being able to see your store based on knowledgeable staff, offer in-store technology and connectivity all drive the value of digital disruption in-store.

Store Within a Store

If the headlines are to be believed, showrooming and the advent of a digital-first approach to shopping will spell the end of the high street. Although we don’t agree with the doomsayers, digital adoption has hit the shops hard and it could see a rethink of business models, most notably thinking around offering more services in-store.

In the UK, we have seen UK pharmacy chain Boots offer ASOS customers the option to pick up parcels in-store as well as Argos launching warehouse-free kiosks in Tesco. Kiosks, I hear you cry, weren’t they tried, tested and dismissed years ago? Well, yes, but with retailers finally developing convincing multichannel strategies they are back, and unlike previous examples they have a clear purpose, are transactional and can allow retailers to extend the edited ranges they offer in stores.

The idea of retailers renting space to other vendors is commonplace in Asia and we’re starting to see its impact on our shores. Rent, sales revenue fees and other commercial kick backs all help justify the store within a store concept but the halo effect of offering ‘more’ in-store cannot be ignored either. Turning your store into a destination where customers can shop, run errands or even have a coffee with friend all make the shopping experience more than ‘buy, buy, buy’. It’s social, it’s convenience and it’s more than a .com can offer.

If mobile isn’t going away – and we all know it isn’t – then retailers need to embrace its ability to improve customer experience to stay inline and ahead of digital disruption.

All businesses have a window in which they need to change and adapt, bringing in new SaaS platforms to perform for the ever-savvy consumer across all channels. How big is your window?

How will you turn customer behaviour into a competitive advantage?

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