By Yulia Poslavskaya, Chief Marketing Officer of Nexign.
According to Forrester’s CX Index scoring system, telcos that increase their CX scores by one point will generate an additional $3.39 in per-customer incremental revenue. The Harvard Business Review provides further evidence for this point, reporting that customers with the most satisfying experiences spend an average of 140% more than those whose experiences fall short. Indeed, customer experience becomes one of the top priorities for telco providers and vendors, especially during the times of pandemic.
In the new normal, a customer-centric culture is a factor that can ensure positive experiences both pre-sale and post-sale and contribute to ARPU growth and improved customer loyalty. When it comes to ensuring the very best customer experience, a number of questions arise. How can CSPs and vendors work together to nurture future-ready CX technologies in the new reality? What are the new use cases for managing customer interaction, and how cross-functional collaboration between tech, business and marketing needs to be fostered to improve customer loyalty?
This article - the first in a series about CX challenges and trends - will explore the current options for vendors and CSPs to collaborate and ensure better customer experience in the new reality.
How did the new normal change CX?
COVID-19 has boosted the trend for self-service and automation dramatically, both in terms of subscriber interaction and operator support. Person-to-person contact became undesirable, and dealing with customers in physical shops or working with personnel in a call center is equally complicated. Self-service systems, mobile applications and virtual assistants must therefore be considered a priority in customer experience management for the rest of 2020 and beyond.
In addition to this, COVID-19 has generated other trends:
1) New usage patterns appeared. People work, study and entertain themselves at home. The heavy congestion points suddenly moved from business centers to residential areas, thus rapidly increasing user-generated content and traffic volumes. These situations demand truly reliable congestion management and network monetization.
2) Communications service providers are removing consumption limits and introducing new gamification features to interact with people facing lockdown restrictions.
How did COVID-19 affect CSPs?
Throughout the pandemic, the social importance of telco operators has increased significantly. CSPs gave their subscribers the means to overcome the restrictions, staying in contact with their loved ones and keeping their businesses running. To support their subscribers and prevent customer churn, many operators offered a number of services for free.
A good example here is MegaFon, a pan-Russian provider of digital opportunities and leader in the Russian and global telecommunications market. During the pandemic, MegaFon began offering free additional products to drive interest among people in lockdown. Access to a library of audiobooks, as well as media and cloud services keeps subscribers entertained and informed at home, while unmetered traffic to messenger services, emails, food and medicine delivery services, and online education gives them two-way access to the outside world. This was a great example of how a CSP can combine its own services with a partner’s products to unlock new ways of improving customer satisfaction in unpreceded conditions.
These measures certainly have their disadvantages, however. For example, once they have been served for free, subscribers may become less engaged with the idea of returning to paid models. CSPs therefore have to offer new services and tariffs and do it fast. Moreover, the overall income decline, in addition to the travel and business activity slowdown, resulted in operator revenue losses. CSPs had to find new ways of keeping customer satisfaction high and securing new revenue streams.
What is the role of vendors here?
Vendors play a huge role in the process of nurturing future-ready CX technologies. In the time of the new normal, vendors act as CX enablers and carriers of best practices, thereby helping CSPs keep up with market demands and improve customer loyalty. Yes, operators know their subscribers and their needs very well. Vendors, however, accumulate top CX management skills and knowledge. Allow me to illustrate how vendors can help CSPs ensure customer satisfaction.
1. Help CSPs bring new CX scenarios to end users
A good example how vendors help CSPs improve CX is the eSIM-based travel product use case, which is a part of TM Forum’s “Vertical Industry Telcos: a Federated DLT-based Marketplace” project. This project was the result of collaboration between several CSPs and vendors, and is designed to help operators manage their digital assets better and take advantage of new business opportunities.
This technological innovation means that subscribers will be able to obtain foreign eSIMs from their home operator, so they won’t need to look for local subscriptions upon arrival. This will solve the problem of silent roamers, delivering a smoother experience suited to the evolving needs of customers and create new revenue streams that were previously unavailable to MVNOs. Similar marketplace-based mechanisms are applicable to more complex B2B and industrial IoT use cases.
2. Provide solutions that support cutting-edge technologies (e.g. 5G)
5G technology has the potential to become a huge differentiator for CSPs. Vendors can ensure the smooth migration to next-generation networks by offering hybrid support for different standards and providing a convergent BSS platform that supports all types of networks. Most importantly, vendors need to make sure that migration does not have an impact on customer service or lead to failures and interruptions.
3. Enable faster launch of new products and services
Solutions enabling a minimum TTM - such as product catalogues, microservices factories and so on - help operators take advantage of new business opportunities when services quickly become obsolete and CSPs need to adapt their offerings to rapidly changing subscriber needs.
4. Take an individual approach to CSPs
To ensure customer loyalty, CSPs should offer services according to personal taste. Vendors can offer solutions that enable a personal approach to every customer and facilitate the fast implementation of individual tariffs and other offerings.
Ultimately, the new normal requires significant changes from both CSPs and vendors in order to keep customer satisfaction high. CSPs can experiment with different approaches and technologies to ensure best CX, but it is the role of vendors to help operators explore new methods and business models, allowing CSPs to increase ARPU and drive customer interest to their products and services. The telco market requires speed and proactivity more than ever before, and vendors can offer CSPs a fast and flexible approach to help them meet subscriber demand and improve customer experience.