The telecom industry is witnessing an explosion of competition and an era of hyper consumerization. The most immediate impact has been an increase in customer churn. As a consequence, telecom operators are investing more in retaining and maintaining a customer. The price point of delivering services to those customers, however, has remained the same, leading to stagnant revenues. It is a tricky situation since the demand from customers for multi-play services– such as broadband, cable TV, IP TV, mobile wallets, data and content–can actually boost revenues if customers can be retained. Fortunately, the answer to both challenges, retaining customers and increasing Average Revenue per User (ARPU), is the same: creating exceptional Customer Experience (CX).
While the industry has had a successful “customer first” management approach for the last decade or so, customer needs and sentiments are changing rapidly. To keep pace, operators must take large technological leaps. Fortunately, with the growth in touch points, the opportunities to improve CX have also grown. For operators determined to address CX at each moment of truth in the customer’s journey, the rewards are ample and quick.
Essentially, operators are focusing on three business areas that impact CX:
- Fulfillment or the cycle time to take an order and ensure accurate delivery of services
- Service Assurance or managing services and customer expectations to keep consumption high and cost of support low
- Billing and Revenue or how to make billing accurate, on time and focused on customer convenience
Each of the business areas listed above is characterized by its own challenges and solutions. The discussion that follows for each of the areas is a starting point. Every operator must apply a layer of innovation to offer truly differentiated CX.
Assume an operator can activate a new SIM for a customer in six hours. What if that time can be reduced to an hour? Every hour of delay in provisioning and activating a service means an increase in cost to serve. Similarly, the execution accuracy of an order determines how swiftly revenue can start flowing into account books. But, more importantly, at the other end of both processes is a customer whose patience levels are being tested and who could, without warning, switch to competition. Streamlining real-time prioritization of customer needs should be high on the agenda of operators. This means combining and analyzing customer data, service requests, service parameters, network capacity, inventory, billing, support availability, exception management and finally mapping them to regulatory restrictions.
Customer expectations are growing. They want voice, text, data, TV on mobile, hosted services, applications, payment mechanisms, flexible plans for download speeds and volumes, etc. In addition, the number of channels for customer interactions is growing. It is difficult for operators to acquire a unified view of the customer across channels and develop a reliable understanding of the customer. As a consequence, CX is being hurt and the cost of customer support is going up.
Operators have not made the investments in technology that help them understand customers through real time analytics. They are handicapped by the fact that they are unable to reduce the touch points or ensure that hand offs between touch points are accurate and faster.