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There is a growing trend in the telco industry around ‘convergence’: the bundling of the various services provided by the operator in a way that – from the consumer’s point of view – feels seamless. To give one practical example, in a situation in which a customer purchases a broadband and mobile contract with the same operator, issues with the former can be resolved by transferring to the latter. Alternatively, calls made on mobile whilst within home wifi coverage can (automatically) use VoIP as a more cost-effective alternative.

For the consumer, this makes a huge amount of sense. If telco businesses are ultimately about allowing people to talk to each other (with the definition of ‘talk’ being as broad as possible), then the details shouldn’t matter at any particular moment in time. And as it becomes more and more common to buy telco services as a package, the consumer has an entirely logical expectation that these services work together in a reasonably seamless manner.

At the same time, as telco operators move into the TV and media space (themselves taking advantage of major changes and disruptions in that market), they wish to make consuming their content as easy as possible, on the full range of devices that the customer has at their disposal. As most readers of this blog will know, that’s a range that gets larger and more diverse with each passing day. In turn that means ensuring an integrated, consistent experience across all those channels.

For the telco operator too, the benefits are clear. Ultimately these organisations run on loyalty, and the operator that can reduce confusion and help the consumer manage their communication and media needs (in some cases without even knowing it) will almost certainly enjoy the benefits down the line.

As BT’s consumer CEO Marc Allera commented recently: “We want to change the way people think and feel about the BT brand. We’ve already brought our team together and now we’re bringing our network together.” That attitude makes a huge amount of sense.

Putting The Consumer In Control

So much for the upside. The challenge for operators going down this route is in ensuring consumers remain in control – and feel in control – of a relationship that spans multiple channels and devices. Meeting that challenge requires investment in the places where brand and consumer interact. The conventional website and call center, sure – but also the app (both on mobile and TV) and emerging channels including web push notifications, messaging platforms and more.

Across all these platforms is the need to deliver information in a straightforward way, but also to support interactions ‘in the moment’. These can be outbound, such as information on service changes, updates or particular campaigns or offers relevant to the individual consumer. But they can also empower the customer to talk back – both with direct questions and through customer feedback mechanisms.

Successfully operating with one voice across this diverse landscape means sharing data across channels, understanding the individual user based on the behavior in every channel, and then in turn managing the relationship at a personal level. Those who can deliver that experience will win in the convergent telco landscape.