Airtel Business

Airtel Business

5 strategic initiatives to revolutionise the omnichannel experience

Avinash Deepak, SVP & Business Head, Airtel Business, unveils insights that are set to revolutionise omnichannel engagement for businesses, and how Airtel Business is at the forefront of this transformation, pioneering innovative solutions that set the standard in the industry.

5 strategic initiatives to revolutionise the omnichannel experience

Monday January 08, 2024,

8 min Read

Today, businesses employ various omnichannel tools to connect with their audiences effectively. However, the key lies not just in adopting the omnichannel approach, but also in strategically enhancing the customer experience.

Airtel Business has consistently focused on comprehending the dynamic needs of its 350+ million customers, delivering an unparalleled experience that goes beyond expectations. Discover how Airtel Business leading the way with its innovative omnichannel strategy, aligning with the five transformative shifts shaping the future of omnichannel experiences:

1. Delivering on today’s customer expectations with omnichannel excellence

In a multichannel approach, businesses employs diverse methods like SMS, chat, voice, and in-person interactions to connect with their customers. This approach amalgamates these channels to facilitate a streamlined customer experience while documenting interactions. In contrast, omnichannel takes a step further, crafting a seamless, unified experience across all channels. This cohesive, customer-centric approach ensures a consistent journey, enabling customers to engage at their convenience—be it chatting at the airport, visiting a store, or browsing online.

Omnichannel integration ensures a seamless transition between channels, responding to the contemporary customer’s desire for flexibility in engaging with brands. By harmonizing the entire customer journey across diverse channels, omnichannel ensures uninterrupted transitions as customers navigate between various touchpoints.

The effectiveness of an omnichannel strategy hinges on a robust and well-implemented Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, akin to a central nervous system that integrates data from multiple touchpoints. A reliable CRM system empowers businesses to construct a unified customer profile, monitoring interactions, preferences, and behaviors across channels. As a result, customers can seamlessly engage through diverse platforms such as a website, mobile app, social media, or in-store, enjoying a consistent and harmonious experience across all interactions.

During recent episodes of TechBlaze, a round table series by Airtel Business and YourStory, many emerging businesses emphasized on the adoption of omnichannel approach. For instance, Gaurav Bhalotia, CTO of Udaan.com, underscored the company’s embracement of an omnichannel approach, to leverage every available channel for consistent customer interaction. He pointed out that while a multichannel approach recorded various interactions in the past, omnichannel integration now creates a unified, cohesive experience for seamless, personalised customer experiences. 

Customer preferences have undergone a significant shift post COVID. Sricheta Das, Head of Partnerships and Strategic Alliances at KreditBee, at another episode emphasized the necessity for businesses in the fintech sector to provide ease, convenience, and zero downtime for digital transactions. This makes integrated omnichannel solutions imperative for delivering a streamlined experience to end-users. Round table insights have also indicated that customers today prefer SMS and WhatsApp as choices of communication.

2. Data-driven decisions drive customer delight

Data analytics stands as a cornerstone in the execution of a triumphant omnichannel strategy. Utilising advanced analytics tools transforms raw data into valuable insights, providing a profound understanding of customer preferences and trends. This wealth of knowledge forms the bedrock for crafting personalized and targeted communication strategies, ensuring that every interaction resonates with individual customers. Data forms the core of the omnichannel approach to meeting customer needs.

Furthermore, data serves as the driving force behind tailoring solutions to meet customer needs, facilitating predictive diagnosis, and ultimately ensuring customer delight. In-depth understanding of customer requirements guides the development and deployment of solutions across diverse channels, catering to both global players and startups with diverse use cases.

With the overarching goal to elevate the customer experience and streamline turnaround times, leveraging data can help businesses track customer interactions, preferences, and behaviours. In the banking sector, data is a critical tool against spoofing messages, securing customer information. Additionally, data-driven optimisation of network deployment enhances sustainability, and proactive issue resolution ensures a delightful customer experience. In customer service, data analysis predicts customer needs, enabling real-time, personalised solutions for an efficient and tailored experience.

3. Artificial Intelligence (AI) elevates personalisation and automation

AI is surfacing as a crucial instrument in engaging with prospective and existing consumers, particularly through omnichannel platforms. Basic analytics plugins decode user behaviour, while chatbots use large language models (LLM) for more conversational and personalised interactions. Generative AI are also being used in chatbots to transforms text-based interactions into speech and, in the future, potentially into video interactions. Unlike traditional IVR menus, AI-driven systems adapt to user’s query, making the experience more dynamic and personalised. 

Organisations are increasingly investing in AI-powered chatbots, which use AI engines to predict and generate personalised messages in real time. Voice interactions in contact centres are also evolving. Traditional IVR setups are being replaced or run parallel to setups where customers can speak directly, and AI-driven IVRs convert spoken words into text, responding to customers and guiding them to relevant information. This shift toward AI integration is becoming more popular and effective in meeting customer needs. 

Early adopters in ecommerce, fintech, and banking are widely embracing AI and reaping its benefits. Banks, particularly, use AI to prevent fraud by authenticating callers, securing communication channels, and combating spam and phishing. This trend extends to new retail organisations using AI to automate how they engage with customers, predicting needs based on user behaviour to deliver timely and targeted messages. The adoption of AI is notably high in digital and banking sectors, with a growing interest in retail organisations leveraging its capabilities for personalised customer interactions.

AI’s significance is now so ingrained that it’s rare to encounter a business not presently using or contemplating its adoption within the next three to six months. Despite challenges, it also demonstrate the industry's acknowledgment of the value of deployed AI tools and the collective vision for continual enhancements in customer engagement.

4. Bridging platforms, prioritising security, and user-friendliness 

In the pursuit of omnichannel excellence, Airtel Business prioritises seamless integration with Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) acting as bridges that facilitate communication between platforms and ensure the flow of data across channels. This interoperability offers a unified view of customer interactions, blending reliable communication platforms with top-tier technology providers to effectively serve the needs of B2B customers.

Acknowledging the challenges in implementing an omnichannel marketing strategy, particularly in unifying diverse communication channels and ensuring effective data sharing, the company is refining pricing models and creating a customer-centric organisation. Leveraging technology guarantees customers a consistent and positive experience across all channels.

Notable instances arose during a TechBlaze roundtable, shedding light on how brands grapple with the choice between investing in proprietary apps or embracing platforms like WhatsApp, weighing factors such as contextual engagement versus the convenience of customer interactions. Fasih Abbas M, Senior Director and Head of Customer Success, Cashfree, had highlighted the challenges of maintaining app engagement, as native apps struggle to retain user engagement, while WhatsApp simplified initial contact. According to him, a native app was crucial to enhancing support experience while WhatsApp enabled brands to initiate conversations. Advocating this, Yash Dayal, CTO, Wakefit, shared that while most of their customers preferred to shop from the website, Wakefit had also built omnichannel options at retail stores, so that the brand could continue to engage with users through WhatsApp and leverage push notifications to enhance customer engagement.

In the contemporary landscape, where customers engage with their favourite brands through mobile apps, Airtel Business has simplified this experience by seamlessly integrating communication platforms through APIs. Whether using a single channel, multiple channels, or enjoying an omnichannel experience, APIs power these interactions in the background, enhancing functionality and user-friendliness.

Ensuring privacy in today's world is paramount, and robust security measures are integral to omnichannel strategies. Airtel Business implements encryption, multi-factor authentication, and secure communication protocols to safeguard customer data, fostering trust and confidence. Prioritising user-friendliness, we strives to make applications accessible to users of all backgrounds and technical expertise.

5. Continued integration of emerging technologies

As technology evolves, so does the omnichannel landscape. The road ahead involves the continued integration of emerging technologies. From the Internet of Things (IoT) devices providing real-time data to augmented reality enhancing in-store experiences, businesses must remain agile in adopting innovations that align with the omnichannel philosophy. 

At Airtel Business, we follow a well-planned roadmap that strikes the right balance between ambition and practicality. As the company moves forward, it is actively exploring the integration of bots, expanding its AI-driven use cases, and shifting its contact centre experiences to the cloud. This transformation is in line with the company's commitment to reducing customer interactions by delivering targeted communications at the right time. Our roadmap is a journey and we are very conscious about not biting off more than what we can chew or digest.

Going forward, visual engagement tools such as video chat and co-browsing will become increasingly important, as businesses strive to bridge the gap between the digital and human realms. By providing personalised assistance and visually guiding customers through websites, businesses can foster meaningful connections, rather than just transactions. 

As we move away from text-based interactions and towards visual engagement, the adoption of omnichannel through marketplaces is becoming more important, as businesses recognise the importance of working together to create a unified and unparalleled customer experience. Let's work together towards this vision and take our businesses to new heights.