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Opinion

First impressions count: How can telcos avoid a digital onboarding disaster?

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Onboarding is one of the most important phases of a telco’s customer journey. It’s the first experience that a customer has with their service provider, and as we all know, first impressions count. Despite this, it’s also one of the key areas where mistakes are made when a telco decides to go digital.

Digitalisation is sweeping across every industry, leaving customers with high expectations and meaning businesses must ensure a fast, frictionless and fully digital customer experience in order to succeed.

Following the pandemic, digital experience is even more important. In fact, 68 percent of respondents to a survey conducted by CRM software provider Salesforce agreed that the pandemic has elevated their customers’ digital expectations. Meeting these expectations is important for any business, but for service providers — the very companies responsible for providing the connectivity we’ve all come to rely on — it is crucial.

Why digital onboarding?

Onboarding has historically been one of the most challenging processes for a telco to digitalise, due to the need to complete two SIM activation and identity verification in person.

Telcos typically provide their new customers with physical, plastic SIM cards, which can either be delivered directly to the customer or collected from a retail store. Similarly, identity verification has taken place in person at a store or by the courier delivering the SIM card or device. However, the development of embedded SIMs, or eSIMs, has innovated the onboarding process.

eSIMs facilitate digital onboarding by eliminating the need for a physical SIM card. Instead, a device is authenticated by downloading network authentication credentials that are embedded into the device, for completely digital onboarding.

However, while eSIMs facilitate speedier onboarding, it’s important not to rush things. A poorly executed digital onboarding solution can do more harm than good to customer satisfaction, resulting in a high churn rate. Research by Capgemini revealed that 41 percent of telco customers prefer to visit their service provider in-person as opposed to using online channels. With telcos fighting against consumer preference already, it’s vital that digital customer experience is made as seamless as possible, to change perceptions and initiate industry-wide change.

Clunky, confusing, complicated

Unfortunately, many service providers approach digital onboarding the wrong way, creating a customer experience that works against, rather than in conjunction with, eSIMs.

An ineffective digital onboarding process starts with an ineffective communication channel choice. Constantly switching between different platforms creates unnecessary complications. There are five key steps to eSIM customer onboarding: selecting a plan and ordering an eSIM, providing contact details, identity verification, payment, and finally, eSIM activation.

Selecting and ordering an eSIM, entering contact details and handling payments can all be done simply from a service provider’s website, but the process becomes complicated when it comes to identity verification and eSIM activation.

Digital identity verification typically takes the form of a video showing the customer’s face and identity document and verbally confirming that they have purchased the outlined plan. Then, a photographic copy of the same identity document is uploaded for more detailed inspection. Once the identity has been confirmed and payment processed, the customer then must activate their eSIM.

Digital onboarding via a website requires customers to activate their eSIM using a QR code. A QR code is emailed to the customer, who can scan it on their device and securely download and activate their SIM profile. Although this activation method works, it requires the user to use another device to onboard, which complicates the digital experience and requires more effort and time from the customer.

Digitally onboarding in this way creates a clunky, confusing and complicated first experience for a telco’s customers, which could leave them frustrated and result in them abandoning the process. So, it’s essential for companies to create a frictionless digital onboarding process for excellent customer service right from the get-go.

Going digital the right way

To avoid these common onboarding mistakes that could hinder customer satisfaction and retention, telcos should consider the benefits of a well-designed app. An app allows telcos to interact with their customers directly from their smartphones and offers a range of services through one channel — including the entire onboarding process.

The two sticking points of web-based onboarding — identity verification and eSIM activation — are streamlined to create the seamless user experience telcos are striving for. Identification can be verified through videos and ID document upload from right within the app, while in-app eSIM provisioning replaces the need for a QR code, enabling customers to activate their profile in just one simple tap.

Mobilise’s M-Connect platform is designed to empower telcos to digitalise their onboarding process quickly, simply, and correctly. Taking an in-app approach streamlines the onboarding process to create a simple, intuitive customer experience. What’s more, opting for an app-based solution cuts down the onboarding time from a couple of working days to just a few minutes.

Making digital onboarding a positive customer experience is crucial to improving customer satisfaction and reducing churn. Onboarding is the first significant interaction that many companies have with their customers. Avoiding these common pitfalls by adopting in-app onboarding gives telcos and their customers alike the confidence in digital-first customer experience and making sure that first impression really counts.

Hamish is the founder and CEO of London-based Mobilise. Hamish has day-to-day operational responsibility of Mobilise but also participates in Product Development and Sales. Hamish is a hands-on telecoms entrepreneur with 19 years’ experience supporting Tier 1 & Tier 2 International Telecommunications Operators. Before founding Mobilise, he worked as a consultant launching and growing start-up telecoms companies primarily in the MVNO domain. This included the launch of 8 MVNOs across 5 countries. His background is in technology, however, his management experience spans the end to end telecoms value chain, including in-depth knowledge of sales & marketing, commercial, finance, operations and technology functions. Hamish specialises in helping companies with digital transformation and establishing mobile app strategies.

Opinion

Bring Your Own Device, but Don’t Forget Your Security

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BYOD is 34 percent more productive, but at what cost?

As a result of increased remote working, the number of personal devices accessing corporate networks grew 20 percent in 2020 alone, and this is only likely to increase. While connectivity is becoming easier, what about its impact on security? Here Ginelle Bell, UK country manager at business phone system provider Ringover, gives her advice on the bring your own device (BYOD) landscape and what the new normal of business communications looks like today.

A 2021 survey by XpertHR revealed that 97 percent of organisations are implementing or planning to implement hybrid working post-pandemic. This is no surprise considering the recent reintroduction of working from home (WFH) guidelines in the UK. In response, businesses must consider how they can adapt and prepare for further changes. This means ensuring flexibility, without compromising security.

What is BYOD?

BYOD is a business model that enables employees to work from their personal devices byconnecting their tablets, laptops and smartphones to a company network. It’s proven a popular option for small and medium enterprises looking to save on the upfront cost of buying company devices and the associated maintenance expenditure.

However, the need for remote working has now extended BYOD’s appeal to larger organizations. For example, technology company Intel, one of the first large organizations to implement BYOD, reported 5 million hours of productivity gains in its first year of using the method.

Allowing employees to carry out work from their personal devices provides them with greater flexibility and mobility, and even increased productivity. In fact, according to research from Frost & Sullivan, as reported by Samsung Insights, employees working from their own mobile devices can be up to 34 percent more productive than those who don’t. This is often because employees are already proficient users of their own devices, saving set up time and initial familiarization.

While the benefits of BYOD cannot be ignored, its security remains a top concern. Threats from BYOD include cyber hacking, data leaks, as well as the increased risk that personal devices may become lost or stolen, exposing sensitive company data.

Securing the new normal

Now, as remote and hybrid working become solidified into many company set-ups, businesses looking to implement BYOD must thoroughly address its security concerns.

Taking in to account the flexibility between remote and in-office working, and the uncertainty of when life will return to ‘normal’, businesses need to invest in software that helps their employees communicate effectively and securely. Opting for a cloud-based software as a service will be key for secure collaboration and communications management. It is the simplest way to outsource risk and compliance, while ensuring every employee is supported and has secure access on any device.

For example, Ringover’s business cloud communications application can be installed on any personal or company owned device, to enable seamless call handling and performance. It gives employees the greatest possible degree of flexibility when communicating externally.

Furthermore, as calls are transmitted via an internet connection, it provides businesses with peace of mind as they don’t need to be concerned with how calls will be routed, or where data is stored. This is because Ringover’s data is stored on GDPR-compliant data centres located across Europe. Ringover also holds certificates to ensure data is secure and encrypted. This helps to prevent data breaches and security threats, as well as outsourcing regulatory compliance by ensuring registration with appropriate bodies such as the Office of Communications (OFCOM).

As BYOD continues to grow in popularity, its security becomes more difficult to monitor. However, selecting a cloud communications tool that ensures data is secured and encrypted allows businesses to reap the greater flexibility and productivity of this business model while reducing potential security threats.

About Ringover: A leader in cloud communications, Ringover seamlessly combines unlimited calling, group messaging and video conferencing into one easy-to-use app. No expertise is needed to set up and integrates with your CRM or helpdesk tools. Within a few clicks, you’ve gained access to all the data you need to enhance your call centre or sales team’s performance and boost customer engagement.

No loss in productivity, time, or revenue and certainly no more limits.

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Opinion

Protecting your business from mobile security risks

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The benefits and uses of mobile device management software

According to the Government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2021, 39 percent of UK businesses experienced a cybersecurity attack last year. For business owners, this statistic is worrying — risking reputation, integrity, and ultimately commercial success. As we move towards an increasingly technology-centric working world, what should businesses be doing to protect their digital assets? Here, Kristian Torode, Director and Co-Founder of mobile device management software provider Crystaline, explains how technology can keep business mobiles safe.

As remote working has become commonplace, mobile devices for business are no longer just desirable, but essential to communication. However, their popularity is not without its risks. Accessing confidential corporate data from a mobile device presents a multitude of opportunities for cyber attackers to strike.

The risks of mobile devices

Mobile security threats are cyberattacks with the intention of acquiring confidential information from mobile devices. It includes malware and spyware that are designed to gain unauthorised access to a device with the intent of accessing company data and contacts, sending messages and stealing confidential login credentials.

Data is a business’ most valuable asset — be it information on customers, products and services or business strategy. Keeping it secure and confidential is absolutely crucial. With just one security breach from a single employee device, cyber attackers can acquire data on an entire company, putting its whole operations in jeopardy.

Keeping customer data safe is also a legal requirement. The UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK-GDPR) protects consumers’ personal information and controls how businesses store data. Compliance is essential and companies risk a hefty fine if a breach is uncovered. So mobile devices, which are portable and at risk of loss or theft, present businesses with a large security risk.

Keeping data secure

Mobile device management (MDM) is the answer to safe business mobile device usage. It involves monitoring, managing and securing mobile devices, which includes anything from smartphones to tablets and laptops.

MDM software typically boasts several features. The primary purpose of MDM is to monitor the software and applications on a device to ensure that they remain updated and continue to meet security standards. MDM also allows IT teams to track a device’s location so that, if lost or stolen, it can be immediately located. If device recovery is not possible, company data can be removed and the device wiped in minutes.

There are several options of MDM software for businesses. Samsung Knox is designed specifically for Samsung devices, while Vodafone Secure Device Manager (VSDM) is compatible with any device with a Vodafone subscription. For complete carrier and device independence, SOTI Mobicontrol is the best solution.

Crystaline works closely with its customers to determine the right MDM solution for their needs, be it device-specific or completely unrestricted. With a service level agreement (SLA) that covers both incident resolution times and security, customers have peace of mind that their MDM solution is comprehensive, scalable and futureproofed.

Ready for anything

But what exactly does the future of work bring? An increasing need for MDM software. The transformation of working practices over the last two years has left businesses with a dispersed, remote workforce. With Government advice on working from home still constantly changing, remote work is sure to stick around in 2022.

Remote work gives employees the flexibility to work from anywhere, be it their home office or local café. But it also leads to a rise in connections to unsecured, public WiFi networks and a greater risk of losing devices when on the move, which puts confidential data at risk.

There’s also an increase in bring your own device (BYOD) business culture. According to Gartner, 55 per cent of workers are using personal-owned devices for work at least some of the time. Businesses can adopt this policy safely with MDM. IT teams can separate business and personal data on employees’ own devices through tailored privacy policies, to guarantee business data security without impacting on personal mobile usage.

When data breaches strike, their impact is catastrophic for business. So, it’s essential data is kept out of the wrong hands. MDM allows businesses to offer their employees flexibility in how they work without compromising on data security, which is crucial to operating in the unstable, everchanging working world.

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Opinion

Going Virtual: Transforming the Telecom Customer Retail Experience

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If world events over the past couple of years taught (and continue to teach) the business world anything, it’s that people can absolutely work and abundantly shop the telecom space from the comforts of home. On top of that, they’ve made it quite clear that they will continue doing both at an accelerated pace, especially the shopping. So, what does this trend mean for the telecom retail space?

First and foremost, it means the entire telecom online, and in-store retail experience must be upgraded to an immensely interactive one that attracts and retains younger consumers, especially Millennials, Gen Z, and the rising Gen Alphas. For these uber tech-savvy individuals and groups, a primarily stagnant brick-and-mortar store or low-tech website isn’t going to cut it moving forward. So, what’s next?

Virtual Telecom Experiences

Telecom retailers need the right technology to take advantage of 5G and AR/VR to address shifting consumer shopping behaviors quickly. This will enable them to create engaging XR experiences that capture consumers, allowing them to find, compare and purchase telecom products like never before. At its core, what makes telecom’s extended reality (XR) immersive experiences better than other customer interactions are enhanced phone comparisons and visual looks at “what’s in the box,” avatar-based engagements, expanded customer touchpoints, contactless interactions, and more.

In the virtual reality (VR)-powered retail experience, retailers can offer an end-to-end smart “endless aisle” to deliver the finest customer engagement. A web VR-enabled solution recreates and enhances the retail store shopping experience by providing a more intuitive and fun-filled solution, enabling customers to basically enjoy a “telecom retail shopping experience on steroids” from their homes or anywhere. This can be done with:

• Endless infrastructure to accommodate more products and services 

• Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven conversational interactions to support customers throughout the shopping journey

• Engagement zones to improve brand and loyalty

• Extended partner ecosystem

• Seamless integration with the in-store experience

• An immersive and contextualized shopping experience

To amp up the brick-and-mortar store, an AR-powered in-store solution provides a more engaging and immersive retail experience en-route and at the store. This solution offers an AR-driven “gamified” in-store experience with capabilities to point and discover using a cell phone and a “try-before-you-buy” AR experience. Retailer and consumer benefits include:

• Monetized partner ecosystem

• End-to-end contactless shopping experience

• Extended VR home experience to in-store

• Unique and engaging e-commerce experience

• Customer experience-based segmentation

An In-Store, Digital “What”?

To take the in-store shopping experience even further, especially when stores are super busy, retailers with the right technology and solutions can deliver an AI-powered conversational/interactive digital wall. This live, sales clerk-less solution provides an immersive and conversational experience for improved product exploration and purchase journeys at retail outlets. Some dual benefits include:

• Personalized shopping

• Virtual product lift and comparer

• In-store ID/facial recognition

• Product bundles

• Next-generation payments

• In-store delivery bots

And for retailers…

Robust analytics provide real-time data-driven insights and actionable intelligence. From this information, retailers can deliver customer segmentation and positioning improvements, better track and measure shopper behavioral patterns, gauge the effectiveness of in-store promotions, identify high and low activity zones and product popularity, and streamline store operations. Having performance indicators and analytics representing customer behavior and perceived experiences gives retailers the base to enhance the overall experience.

With the right technology in place, this is just the beginning. For starters, there would be reduced operational costs at telecom retail stores and improved customer satisfaction and NPS scores, leading to enhanced customer acquisition through gamification, rewards, and loyalty programs.

There would also be a faster cycle time in consumers making purchasing decisions thanks to improved upsell and cross-sell opportunities, and more effective marketing campaigns, all due to personalized content and experiences stemming from AI.

Lastly, retailers would see improvement in top-line growth due to increased in-store foot traffic and revenue and online sales by providing a one-stop digital shop to procure products and services.

Taking the shopping experience to the next level

In a nutshell, consumer telecom shopping and buying behaviors are shifting at blinding speed, and it’s up to telecom retailers to change and adapt. Implementing the right XR technology that takes advantage of 5G and AR/VR for more engaging virtual and in-store experiences will take both the consumer telecom shopping experience and sales revenues to an entirely new level.

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