Shashi KaligotlaJul 27, 2018 18:36:24 IST
The telecom industry is at the forefront of enabling best-in-class customer experiences. With large-scale changes in market environments and increased executive push towards digitisation, telcos are exploring new business models to create and capture value. The digital customer needs to be delighted and operators are leveraging new levels of personalisation at a scale never imagined before.
Telecom firms are now analysing real-time customer data through smart algorithms to deliver personalised experiences concurrently to millions of customers. These experiences are seamlessly integrated into every customer touch point using AI, predictive analytics, and real-time feedback loops.
With the dawn of the digital world, customers expect the experiences to have the following attributes:
• Context-aware: In today’s always-on connected world, customers demand agile experiences because of their changing needs and demands, telecom providers are expected to quickly adopt data-driven insights to map customer needs, know their interaction patterns, and engage with them by anticipating their requirements.
• Service extensions: To enable services like digitised wallets, media services, and custom utilities operators ought to be partnering with third-party service providers for broadening customer reach and relationships. Telcos are expected to be multiservice providers and develop platform driven solutions to ensure demonstrable advantages for the customer.
• Service centricity: Compelling value delivered through in-time quality service can be a key lever to be factored while designing customer retention strategies. Customers are also willing to get empowered with the tools and know-how to resolve service issues. Users are also expecting personal data confidentiality and wish to have complete control over it.
The need is clear. The industry has to transform its ways of interacting with the customers since they are expecting the same level of digital experiences given by other industry sectors.
A five-pronged approach to reimagine the Consumer Experience (CX) ecosystem
Build omnichannel experiences
The objective is to create a unified view of the customer and get deeper insights into their personas, continuously adapt to their changing needs, avoid fragmenting the customer’s journey, and know customer interaction preferences. Verizon wireless recently highlighted its Omnichannel Retailing (OCR) expertise at National Retail Federation Show in New York. The idea is to integrate in-store, online, and mobile store experiences allowing retailers to deliver integrated customer experiences, irrespective of the way a customer engages with the brand. They have also unveiled their 10,000-sq ft destination store in US terming it as the retail playground.
Design intelligible customer propositions
Automate basic support tasks using AI and chatbots, and use natural language processing software to intelligently answer the most common customer queries. Interactions are becoming more message-oriented through voice-activated services and OTT instant messaging services. Telcos are working alongside OTT content providers to increase their subscriber footprint. Offerings such as free subscriptions and unlimited high bandwidth rich video content streaming are being delivered to enable exciting and relevant experiences to their customers. The idea is to engage in content partnerships, make optimal use of telecom infrastructure, and explore new revenue opportunities.
Embracing the power of content and data
Leveraging rich content such as movies, music, e-mags, etc, can help telco firms position themselves more aggressively in a highly competitive market. Content can be a key differentiator and enables in garnering more subscribers and also offer more audiences to content creators. Telcos are also breaking the business models of banks and financial services. Telecom firms have the advantage of location-based data and are racing ahead in the area of mobile payments, financial transactions, and e-commerce. E-merchants and financial institutions are using user and transactional data to detect fraud patterns, mobile operators with their customer’s consent are sharing these data with service providers to improve fraud detection rates (example: SIM swaps).
The convergence of IT and telecom has enabled the growth of ICT services, design of OTT applications, and IP-based communication applications. B2B telco implications include pervasive internet connectivity, unified communications (example: desktop conferencing), scalable cloud infrastructure, disruptive services (example: remote healthcare), and multi-OS apps stores.
Winning in the era of Hyper Convergence and Hybridisation
The time is ripe for convergence in telecom services, and the need for telcos to consider the B2B and B2C domains while still operating through their consumer-based business models. Convergence is ideally a digital hub where devices, software, applications, and connectivity come together to deliver platform agnostic, user-centered, and relevant services. The intent is to further digitalise the consumer’s lifestyle by enabling connectivity, flexibility and efficiency.
AI, 5G, Connectivity and the road ahead
With the inclusion of cloud computing and IoT, digital has taken shape enabling centralised processing facilities, and external data storage fostering massive scale in customer outreach and delivery channels with minimal investments. The IoT possibility of connecting multiple smart devices/phones to the internet through an access point controlled by a service provider is an attractive value proposition for consumers. IoT adoption can also enhance operational efficiencies by improved asset management and monitoring (Example: remote tower monitoring for 24/7 uptime).
The advent of 5G and its infusion with IoT in the coming years is also going to fundamentally change network architectures and amalgamate various smart devices to boost network capacities and speeds, reduced latency while enabling customisable delivery models.
AI too, is increasingly finding its place in customer-facing initiatives. Implementations of human-AI collaborations like the chatbot solutions are being devised to maximise customer interactions. AI is being leveraged to provide data, insight, and suggestions to the human agent. AI analyses large volumes of data to provide data contextually relevant to the call, heightening agent responsiveness, ensuring faster resolution rates and reducing the need to access multiple data repositories.
Telcos — A step ahead in CX
Telecom operators are far more aggressive when compared to other industry contenders, they are nurturing new opportunities in business adjacencies and broader digital ecosystems to enable superior customer experiences. They are willing to constantly redefine their relationships with customers, optimise revenue from different customer segments, while making CX a factor, a delight and differentiation in the service industry.
The author is SVP Sales -Telecom and Carrier Services at CSS Corp