fbpx
Connect with us

Views from the Inside

Telecom gets personalized: The key to MNO and MVNO success

Published

 on

No one likes to feel like a number — and good customer service can change that. In fact, 84 percent of consumers say being treated like an individual, not a number, is critical to preventing customer attrition. In the hypercompetitive telecoms industry, this ethos is even more important. So how can telcos make their services personal and prevent churn?

Customer demands and expectations are becoming increasingly specific. The ‘State of the Connected Customer’ report carried out by Salesforce highlighted that 80 percent of customers now consider the experience a company provides to be as important as its products and services. Superb service for one customer could be sub-par to another, so having the ability to cater to different preferences and requirements is key to standing out.

Say hello to chat bots

We’ve all suffered the frustration of trying to get through to a customer service line, and hearing nothing but an automated voice message. “I just want to speak to a human,” is something that’s commonly uttered. Today’s consumers want more choice for how they interact with brands, so telcos must find ways of making customers feel they are talking to a trusted advisor, rather than a robot.

Engagement tools such as chat bots are essential for any telco and they’re more needed than ever. Recently, an industry watchdog warned that telcos must go further in tackling customer service problems, after it was revealed that customers waited more than double the time to speak to an adviser in 2020 than they did in 2019. But increasingly, consumers are less likely to pick up the phone and talk about their concerns and are more likely to favour a chat or messaging platform instead, particularly across the younger demographic.

Chat bots can make user experience easier, but they also hold purchasing power. IBM found that 56 percent of telecom customers use self-service options to choose the best plan. This demonstrates that self-service options have a higher chance of resonating with customers and improving the way they view a provider. Besides this, chat bots can also help telcos reduce costs by 48 percent, as there isn’t the expense associated with hiring a whole fleet of customer service staff.

Hyper-personalisation

Personalisation can be as simple as addressing someone by their first name. But for telcos that want to go above and beyond, they should look at hyper-personalisation. Hyper-personalisation involves using data, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and predictive analytics to understand individual customer behaviours to make interactions more relevant to the individual. Real-time recommendations on products and services based on a user’s network behaviour or interactions with a chat bot, presents telcos not only with new revenue opportunities but also a means to engage customers in a more relevant and personalised way, driving increased loyalty and reduced churn.

However, executing this level of personalisation is only possible through data analytics. In this instance, data goes beyond basic demographics like age and gender. It’s used to analyse the customer journey by unifying data from social media, mobile network, customer service, mobile browsing, and purchase history.

Often, telcos’ data is trapped in silos, which makes it difficult to see a full view of customer behaviour that allows for personalisation. To deliver a scalable personalisation service, telcos need to invest in Customer Data Management (CDM) tools, which use AI and ML technologies. CDM tools create and maintain a full customer data set, which provides the performance required to deliver hyper-personalisation, in real-time and at scale.

Personalisation offers a win-win for both customer and provider. Accenture found that 83 percent of consumers are willing to share their data to create a more a personalised experience, providing telcos with a great opportunity to deliver new revenue opportunities through hyper-personalisation.

Personalised plans and platforms

To simplify how personalisation is executed, telcos should invest in a solution that enables easy creation and management of customer experiences through digital channels. Mobilise’s M-Connect is a fully customisable digital-first platform that allows telcos to develop bespoke user interfaces, using business specific modules.

The Self-Care Environment permits users the control to buy and manage service subscriptions without the help of a call centre agent, using a personalised chat bot instead.

Besides providing more flexibility, the platform’s Data Analytics Dashboard feature enables geo-location tagging and device data tracking to provide operators with insights including traffic volumes, network usage and device types. This enables telcos to analyse customer needs and optimise user experience to support a personalised service.

Customer expectations are changing, and telcos must make their services more personal. However, understanding customer behaviour to provide a thorough, personalised service relies on new ways of managing and actioning data. Implementing a solution that enables this is key to ensuring customers feel like a person, not a number.

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.

Views from the Inside

How telcos can digitalise their services for the demands of tomorrow

Published

 on

How telcos can digitalise their services for the demands of tomorrow

Retail giants Amazon, Aldi and Tesco are trialing checkout-free stores in the UK, where customers can conveniently grab their shopping and leave the store without visiting a cashier. It’s clear that consumers today expect intuitive digital services as standard — and supermarkets aren’t the only ones who should listen.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digitalisation of our entire society, and digital strategies are no longer optional for companies who want to stay on top. The telecoms industry isn’t exempt from this. Revamping telecoms services is particularly critical, with a survey by Kantar finding that just 14 percent of network provider customers were delighted with their last interaction ― the lowest satisfaction rate out of all industries evaluated.

However, while the importance of digital transformation is evident, the journey towards it is not always so clear. In fact, according to research by McKinsey, around 70 percent of companies fail at their digitalisation goals.

Architecture and personalisation

A fundamental area telco should concentrate on in their digital transformation is their architecture. Telcos should transition to a microservices architecture, where the telecoms network becomes a central component of a wider ecosystem of products and services. Such services are accessed through open application programming interfaces (APIs), which drives incremental revenue opportunities for the provider.

The microservices architecture offers greater enterprise agility, making it easier to adapt and develop new applications to meet changing consumer demands, as well as integrate third-party applications. This is opposed to a monolithic development approach, which is a single-tiered software application.

Telcos should also turn their attention to the rising demand for personalisation, where consumers are preferring services and products that are tailored specifically to them. In fact, a 2021 report by customer data platform provider Segment found that 45 percent of consumers would take their business elsewhere if a brand didn’t offer a personalised experience.

However, it’s common in telecommunications for customer data to be trapped in silos, where data held by one group is not easily accessed by others within the same organisation. To overcome this, telcos must invest in customer data management platforms that use advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies to better understand user behaviour.

eSIMs and inspiring innovation

A gamechanger in digital telco products is the eSIM, which allows the customer to activate a mobile data plan from their network provider without having to use a physical SIM card. Set to disrupt the market, the number of mobile operators worldwide supporting eSIMs skyrocketed from 15 in 2018, to 108 in 2020.

Despite the demand for consumer eSIMs growing, telcos have thus far been slow to adopt the technology. This could be due to a reluctance to adopt a new process, lengthy implementation timelines or the constraints of existing legacy technology. Regardless, the support for consumer eSIM is growing rapidly, as all major device brands now include eSIM as standard in all new device models.

Additionally, the Electronic Communications Committee (ECC) has recently launched a regulatory initiative that requires all EU member states to devise strategies to use eSIM over-the-air (OTA) as a way to facilitate easier porting between operators. This initiative would mean all operators in European countries would be required to support eSIM for mobile number portability (MNP). As a result, it’s important that service providers offer eSIMs to their customers as soon as possible. That’s why Mobilise launched eSIM as a service, which enables service providers to quickly offer eSIM capabilities to customers.

As well as adopting a microservices architecture, unlocking the power of customer data and transitioning to eSIMs, a change in culture and overall business approach is crucial in a digital transformation journey. For instance, telcos should conduct product development from a user-centric design approach, with every decision revolving entirely around the customer and their experience. This approach has a greater guarantee of success than designing a product internally and then releasing it into the market in a sink or swim scenario.

The world is becoming more digital, and the telecommunications industry needs to follow suit to succeed in the market. To effectively digitalise, telcos must prioritise transformation projects and ensure consumer demands are at the heart of every product decision.

Continue Reading

Views from the Inside

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

Published

 on

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.

Continue Reading

Views from the Inside

An Unavoidable Problem: How ISPs Should Prepare for the Coming Spike

Published

 on

ISPs have a data problem. Every day, more and more devices are being connected to home networks – connected Smart Homes are expected to be a $99-billion industry this year. Each device adds to the burden placed on the home’s WiFi router. And these devices are seeing a lot of use.

COVID-19 sped up the arrival of the long-anticipated remote work revolution, with nearly three out of four American office workers working from home at the height of the pandemic, and a fair number of them determined to keep working from home at least part of the time from now on. Data usage rose 47 percent during the quarantine, and the Internet of Things (IoT) will soon generate 79.4 zetabytes of data per year.

As these factors exert massive pressure on bandwidth and WiFi reliability, ISPs will need to reduce service interruptions, improve call center efficiency, and eliminate unnecessary on-site service calls.

An Ounce of Prevention

The best way to minimize stress on call centers is to make sure the call never comes by keeping the internet up and running. Anticipating demand can prevent congestion, so it only makes sense to rely on data collection and analytics to better predict where usage will spike. This means installing better monitoring equipment throughout the network but especially in homes. Then improvements such as fiber-optic cable should be installed in busier neighborhoods, with a shift of focus to residential areas which are suddenly going to be producing quite a lot of data.

ISPs should also provide their domestic customers with better in-home equipment. State-of-the art modems and routers are required to process the volume of information a smart home will produce, and it will no longer be enough to provide a single hub — larger houses will need extenders and wireless hubs, all of which should come prepared with that improved monitoring equipment for collecting data. Residences will need high-quality, high-yield, internet equipment just to process all the information a smart home will burn through and pump out.

Finally, it is vital to improve residential network security across the entire network but especially in people’s homes. With so many interconnected devices, the opportunities for hackers and other bad actors to sneak into a system and steal data are astounding. And malware does more than steal data — it also drastically slows down infected systems, creating a much higher burden for the ISP to process all the information the smart home and IoT create.

And as more and more users’ security become compromised, this burden will increase exponentially. This ISPs must load their new home equipment with firewalls and even include security software in their internet packages, at the very least to prevent IoT and smart home users from creating massive drags across an entire provider’s service in an area.

Empowering Customers, Reducing Dispatches

Without interfering with or spying on users’ private data, these intermediary systems detect the source of internet shutdowns, rather than just telling the user they need to be fixed. ISPs could automatically send upgraded hardware to customers with outdated modems or routers and make this hardware easy to install without a technician on-site.

Customers could also download troubleshooting apps, which can probe the network to find the real problem and even sometimes fix it before a call is ever made. Such an app could also guide the customer or an ISP technician through a self-diagnosis and troubleshooting process, speeding resolution, and raising customer education all at once.

When customers use these measures, service truck dispatches are cut in half, and as much as 45 percent of service calls can be resolved via an automated troubleshooting menu, and total call times can drop by 60 percent. As companies spend less time and manpower on connectivity issues, they spend less money and can enjoy the rise in customer satisfaction as fewer calls means fewer problems.

Once ISPs have improved overall carriage capacity to anticipate the rise in usage and taken steps to empower their users to fix their own issues, they will have solved much of the problem facing providers in the near future. Bandwidth will drop or fail only very rarely, and when it does fail, the ISP will only rarely need to dispatch a technician, saving themselves money and their clients time and frustration.

Internet slowdowns and service interruptions are, unfortunately, as old as the internet itself. By upgrading their infrastructure and monitoring systems, and empowering customers to troubleshoot on their own, ISPs can take most of the threat out of these problems, helping home networks usher in the work-from-home revolution while preparing for the rise of our futuristic Smart Homes yet to come.

Continue Reading

Trending