Customer experience is becoming a more important and competitive aspect of the telecom industry. Due to data and speed becoming more of a commodity and very little differentiation in the market, telcos are having to find different ways to stand out. And customer experience is one of the most significant ways.
Telcos’ most notable digital services (such as SMS) pre-date the smartphone era. And since then, they have been more functionality- than experience-driven in the last decades. However, digital-native service providers, such as Spotify or Netflix are setting high customer experience standards in the digital age and are now creating the digital norm. And telcos need to re-evaluate their approach and prioritise customer experiences to avoid the risk of falling behind. In this article, we provide 9 ways in which service providers (SPs) can improve customer experience in the telecoms industry.
What is customer experience in telecom industry?
“Customer experience is the impression your customers have of your brand as a whole throughout all aspects of the buyer’s journey. It results in their view of your brand and impacts factors related to your bottom line, including revenue.” – HubSpot
Customer experience in the telecom industry is becoming a crucial element of a successful SP. It’s emerging as the key differentiator between SPs as the era of functionality-driven competition is coming to an end. Increased range, reduced congestion, higher speed, and lower latency are all wonderful advancements that have transformed the telecommunications industry over the last 4 decades.
But the 21st-century digital customer is after more than just that. They want an experience that’s on par with other brands they interact with. And SPs who neglected customer experience now find themselves in a difficult position where they are catching up with the new technologies, trends, and ever-changing customer demands.
As customer experience in the telecom industry is only set to continue to evolve, it is time for SPs to push digital innovation and offer experiences that are more engaging, personalised, and satisfactory. And to start taking advantage of the benefits of good CX.
Benefits of providing a good customer experience in telecom industry
Telecommunications is a sector that suffers most from customer volatility and, consequently, has a very high level of competition. Customers change providers quickly to get better offers for a lower price. SPs who invest in customer experience are likely to become more competitive and increase the level of their customers’ loyalty. Emphasising outstanding and personalised digital experiences can set SPs apart from the competition that doesn’t deliver on their promises. This can create a sense of uniqueness about your brand.
Accenture argues that customer experience has become the single biggest factor driving customer loyalty – and therefore revenue growth – today. A more loyal and involved customer tends to buy 90% more frequently than a customer who does not feel involved with your company. In addition, a loyal customer tends to buy from the same brand and spend more than 60% on a single transaction, thus guaranteeing unit profitability 23% higher than the average customer. Creating loyal customers through good customer service can therefore provide businesses with lucrative long-term relationships. And furthermore, this can convert loyal customers into brand ambassadors.
The ability to provide good customer experiences requires the implementation of digital technologies. These, in turn, have the power to unlock significant economic value for SPs. For example, providing a self-service environment (that we’ll discuss further later) enables customers to do plenty of tasks on their own. This frees up a lot of SP’s employee’s time that could be allocated to other tasks.
AI and data analytics tools on the other hand allow SPs to better analyse their customer behaviour. And in turn, the information can be used to prevent churn and up-sell and cross-sell relevant products and services. Doing so results in higher revenue and ARPU.
“If you can reduce the number of customers lost by as little as 5%, you can expect profitability to increase from 25% to 125%.” – Capita.com
How to provide a good customer experience in telecom industry
There is a plethora of things that make up for a good customer experience in the telecom industry, which can easily make it confusing for SPs who are still at the beginning of their customer experience journey.
Let’s take a look at them and explain them in more detail.
Embracing technological advances – cloud, AI, data analytics, eSIM and eKYC – is the first step to providing a good customer experience in the telecoms industry. With digital natives raising the CX bar, SPs need to integrate digital technologies to reconstruct their market position, re-create their business systems, and produce inventive offerings for customers.
And with the birth of eSIM and improved digital infrastructures outside the telecoms industry, non-telco SPs now have a greater incentive. The incentive to start providing a connectivity package with a significant digital experience as a head start over traditional telcos. This means telcos need to raise their game and fast!
- Leveraging the cloud enables SPs to move faster with a continued focus on reliability and scale to remain competitive.
- AI and data analytics allow SPs to take learning from customer behaviour and apply them to improve the customer journey, increase automation and identification of new opportunities.
- eSIM and eKYC provide an opportunity for SPs to fully digitalise their onboarding process and shorten it to as little as a few minutes.
By utilising the right digital technologies, SPs can continuously innovate their customer experience and transform themselves into a truly data-driven organisation.
Customer experience design
Customer experience in telecom industry is all about understanding customer needs and expectations. However, it’s not only about giving customers what they want (unless you want to end up with THIS type of end-product). It is therefore imperative to implement the right customer experience design process.
Source: Everest Group
Customer experience design (CXD) in telecom defines the process of designing products and services that prioritise the customer and user experience. It is customer-focused design; when a decision is made, it is made for and on behalf of the user. The underlying intention of CXD is to match products and services with the requirements of users. And to ensure experience aligns with expectation.
However, there is a fine line. There has to be discipline around which features to include or not to ensure products don’t become overly complex because every customer’s whim has been catered for. There needs to be guidance around UX best practices, so functionality comes together in a frictionless user experience.
Customer experience design is essential as it not only shapes the customer’s experience, but also their brand perception. How your audience feels about using your product correlates to how they feel about you as a provider. Frustration creates frustration, and leads to rejection, while intuitive experiences create positive associations, and lead to appreciation and repetition.
The 21st century is the digital era. And it was initiated by the introduction and widespread adoption of smartphones when the first iPhone launched back in 2007. At the moment of writing, almost 80% of people in the world own and use a smartphone. And this number is only forecasted to rise and reach over 92% in 2027.
Mobile devices have become more than a means of voice communication. Globally, the most popular mobile internet activities include watching movies or videos, using email, and accessing social media. Mobile devices are also used to engage in financial transactions, retail purchases, health tracking, and many other functions.
That made mobile applications, commonly referred to as apps, the major medium for interactions between consumers and service providers across the economy. Below are some key facts about apps and the app market.
- The iOS App Store launched in 2008 with 500 apps. Today, there are over 7 million apps available across iOS and Android platforms, extending to every app and game genre and niche. (Business of Apps)
- 143.6 billion apps and games were downloaded in 2021. (Business of Apps)
- Overall, 3.8 trillion hours were spent using mobile apps during 2021. (App Annie)
- Nearly 90% of mobile internet time is spent in apps. (eMarketer)
- Most users have more than 80 apps installed on their phones. (TechJury)
- By 2023, mobile apps could generate over $935 billion in revenue. (SerpWatch)
- Mobile internet usage is rising while desktop internet usage continues to fall. (Mary Meeker)
Mobile-first approach in the telecom industry
All of this combined means it’s inevitable for SPs to follow a mobile-first design approach.
According to the original definition by Luke Wroblewski, Mobile First Design/Development refers to the practice of designing for mobile, well, first. Essentially, the aim of mobile-first is to switch the workflow from tackling desktop designs first and addressing the mobile design head-on. Working towards the desktop version as the project evolves.
In telecom, adapting the mobile-first approach and providing high-quality customer experience means creating a mobile app that allows SPs to engage one-on-one with customers, widen their audience, and ultimately drive sales. And since smartphone usage is constantly increasing, how consumers interact with brands and SPs has drastically changed to lean towards mobile interactions.
But developing a mobile app from scratch can be challenging, expensive, and time-consuming. And therefore often unattainable for small to medium providers.
One of the best ways to create a stand-out mobile experience for a fraction of the cost is to partner up with a white-label telecom app provider, such as Mobilise.
Creating and proactively driving customers to the digital self-care environment, plays a central role in delivering an excellent customer experience.
- It allows end-users to access, manage, and configure plans from anywhere and any device.
- Thanks to feature-rich and user-friendly interfaces as well as a personalised approach, SPs can generate and leverage an increased amount of customer data to provide real-time contextual offers, and thereby increasing revenue opportunities.
- A self-service capability reduces operational overhead cost of receiving and replying to inbound support calls and email inquiries.
If implemented successfully and well, a self-care environment will prove to be beneficial for both consumers and SPs.
Fully digital customer onboarding
You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Fast, frictionless and fully digital customer onboarding in telecom is therefore a must. eSIM and eKYC allow SPs to achieve just that.
Consumer eSIM allows SPs to reduce the onboarding time to minutes. This is possible thanks to remote SIM provisioning, and in particular, eSIM in-app activation, which allows SPs to move their entire customer journey online.
Electronic Know Your Customer (eKYC) process complements eSIM by taking the identity verification process online. It is a remote, paperless, and real-time process that minimises the costs and bureaucracy necessary in traditional KYC processes.
Some of the main benefits of integrating eSIM and eKYC processes into the onboarding process include:
- Higher customer satisfaction and NPS – Simplifying arduous processes and catering to customer needs by creating digital-first experiences drives customer satisfaction and increases your NPS.
- Reduced costs and higher revenue – If done correctly, digital-first user onboarding decreases customer acquisition and service costs as well as SIM production, storage, and transportation costs.
- Lower carbon footprint and reduced waste – going digital means less plastic, paper and CO2 emissions.
- Reduced identity fraud – eKYC helps in identifying and preventing fraudulent activities that put telecom operators at risk.
- Higher user retention and loyalty – A satisfying onboarding experience prevents customer attrition and makes users come back.
Digital advancements contributed to an increased number of channels that serve customers. These channels include email, websites, social media, chatbots and many more. To improve customer experience in telecom, SPs should look to utilising multiple digital channels to communicate with their customers and thereby creating an omnichannel strategy.
It is important to remember that an effective and efficient omnichannel strategy requires a seamless interconnection between all channels. The channel strategies developed in silos most often lead to customer dissatisfaction and churn. Only a consistent omnichannel strategy can ensure a service that does not feel disconnected for a customer when interacting with different digital channels.
The benefits of an optimised omnichannel customer experience include an ongoing ability to derive insights about how their customers evolve. And then optimise customer interactions accordingly. Additionally, SPs can embed data and intelligence across every channel and touchpoint of the customer journey. Customers get an enriched experience while SPs can better understand their customer’s unique needs.
No one likes to feel like a number — and good customer service can change that. In fact, 84% of consumers say being treated like an individual, not a number, is critical to preventing customer attrition. In the hypercompetitive telecom industry, this ethos is even more important.
“Personalisation is pointless without knowing the individual. Understand the dreams, hopes, and fears that motivate your customers, then hit them where it counts.” – Paul Gillin
Personalised customer experience refers to developing products, services, and interactions to meet the customer’s unique and individual requirements. Right from greeting the customers by their first name to designing offers that meet their likes and interests. Personalisation has become the new brand differentiator.
When done right, personalisation builds trust and enhances customer engagement. But how can telcos make their services personal?
1. Understand customer expectations – Conducting customer surveys, tracking what customers do online and analysing their reviews is one of the best ways of diving deeper into their minds and understanding their needs.
2. Segment customer base – different customer groups have different shopping and engagement patterns and therefore need to be addressed separately for the best results.
3. Craft memorable experiences – once the customer base is segmented and well understood, the only thing left is to create and deliver memorable experiences.
In telecom, personalisation can mean a lot of things:
- Address the customer by their name
- Keep them informed about their usage of minutes, SMS, and data
- Provide relevant push notifications
- Provide relevant discounts and offers
- Cross-sell relevant offers and features
“Companies that excel at personalization generate 40% more revenue than average players” – McKinsey
AI-powered analytics and data
Big data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) are complementary. Big data analytics provide essential inputs (hidden patterns, variable correlations, and market trends) into the AI engine. This enables the processing of high volumes of data at high speed and low latency. An output – real-time insights – help SPs make more informed decisions, and provide more personalised customer experiences while also improving business performance and agility.
SPs have large amounts of data, but it’s often trapped in silos. By pulling this data together they can understand their customers much more and experiences that are tailored to their behaviours, solve problems, and enable proactive measures at every touchpoint. All of which are vital to future growth and success.
But what about customers? Do they want to share their data to receive more personalisation? Research shows that 76% of customers would be eager to let providers use their data to receive recommendations that are tailored to their specific needs and preferences. Moreover, 59% of them are willing to spend more to get a plan specifically customised to their needs across voice, data, entertainment, and other personalised services.
Good customer service is a revenue generator. It gives customers a complete, cohesive experience that aligns with an organisation’s purpose. However, according to research, U.S. companies lose more than $62 billion annually due to poor customer service. And 7 out of 10 consumers say they’ve spent more money to do business with a company that delivers great service. Getting the customer service right can therefore be a cornerstone of an SP’s customer experience.
Key principles of good customer experience
There are four key principles of good customer experience:
- Personalisation – treating customers as individuals and not numbers make all the difference. Additionally, SPs can leverage customer data and past interactions to tailor customer services to a person’s specific profile. This can help to avoid repetitive questions and improve customer relationships from a personal angle.
- Competent – 65% of customers expect a resolution to their issue at first contact. Strong knowledge of the company and its products among customer service agents is crucial to fixing customer problems effectively and efficiently.
- Convenience – customers want to reach their provider via the channel that is most convenient to them. It’s also important to implement an omnichannel strategy in providing customer service – 89% of customers get frustrated when they have to repeat their questions to multiple customer service agents.
- Proactiveness – letting a customer know in advance about a problem and sharing the solution before they even know they need it. This helps SPs build stronger connections with their customers and establishes them as reliable and dependable.
“The cost of poor customer service is estimated at least $75 billion per year and is increasing rapidly” – NewVoiceMedia
What’s interesting is that customers’ first choice tends to be self-service options. 70% of customers expect self-service from the company they do business with. They are happy to solve their problems with the help of an FAQ section when they are given the option. Only after they have been unable to find answers via self-service will they turn to front-line customer service agents.
Digital customers and their expectations are reshaping the telecoms industry. And customer experience is becoming a key driver of that change. In an increasingly digital era, ignoring the importance of customer experience to appeal to customers is only going to negatively impact SPs. Especially in the telecoms industry.
Perfecting customer experience may take time. But SPs must become far more agile, prioritise delivering superior experiences across the business and embrace technological advances. That’s the only way they will be able to compete against tech giants. And give their customers the experience they’ve come to expect.