Last year, 60% of companies said that COVID-19 forced them to alter their digital transformation plans. That number increased to 62% in 2021. The pandemic forced many companies to adopt digital solutions to real-world problems like a worldwide shutdown, social distancing, and reduced in-store shopping.
This rapid digitization affected telecom companies specifically. Demand for service in telecommunication companies (and revenues) has increased in the short term, with more remote workers relying on stable ISP services and shoppers migrating to online ordering. Because of consumers’ constant searches for better, cheaper services, telecom companies (which traditionally rely on rapid customer acquisition and better retention) will depend on a successful digital transformation.
If you’re a telecommunication company business leader considering digital transformation, we suggest keeping customer experience front and center as you develop your digital transformation forecast. Specifically, you can set your sights on updating old technology, meeting customers in their preferred channel, and gathering data to make the best decisions for your unique set of customers. Apply those steps to your telecommunication company by starting with these basics.
1. Gather relevant customer and journey data.
Having more data on your customers helps build better customer profiles and increases your company’s ability to understand the customer journey and deliver better experiences. A reported 39% of telecom companies have created data management strategies and now realize that customer data is rapidly becoming a huge driver for revenue growth and customer acquisition (through targeting and retargeting customers based on their data), as well as a remarkable tool for upselling and cross-selling.
A core pillar of your customer data collection is survey feedback. An overlooked metric that is slightly more important to the telecom industry is the CLV, or customer lifetime value score. It measures more than loyalty—it maps out a definite fiscal relationship that can help a telco strategize on retention and new opportunities.
Let’s say a customer’s CLV looks like this:
Customer yearly spend ($780) x Number of years (10) – Acquisition cost ($1,000) = CLV ($6,800)
Obviously, this kind of data can help identify high value customers over others when upselling or cross-selling new features or plans. A customer with a CLV of $500 is less likely to be drawn to new products or services, but one that spent $10,000 is one you want to target.
The reason this is a key factor to digital transformation? If you don’t consider how to maximize your digital engagement and journeys with high value customers, your brand is leaving big revenue opportunities on the table.
Also, if it isn’t regular practice, establish a consistent cadence of sending out CSAT, NPS, and CES surveys. And if you’re not one of the few telecom companies (a meager 18%) that take steps to actually use this data, make sure to invest time and energy into learning how to use customer feedback.
How you interpret and weigh the data is equally important in digital transformation. Here are a few major implications for handling CSAT and CES data:
- Tracking CSAT across channels lets you know if a customer is happier within an experience that stayed in one channel (e.g. digital) or is happier when they switch channels (e.g. from digital to voice).
- Similarly, depending on the respective scores for the above scenario, if your score for switching channels is abysmal, then it’s time to make the process of transitioning channels a major focus.
- The harder a customer has to work, the worse your CES will be. For journeys where CES is shining, dig into trends to discover what success can be carried over to other journeys.
- If CSAT or CES is rock bottom for a specific experience (e.g. renewals), then this process or journey should take top priority for receiving focus in your digital transformation strategy.
2. Update your customer service strategy.
Telecom companies have the worst scores traditionally when it comes to customer relationships, with a median NPS score of 31. So, implementing an efficient, helpful digital customer service experience is a major area of profitability.
There are a number of different CX solutions to help you digitize your customer service offering. You can improve your customer support experience piecemeal by introducing digital features like chatbots, virtual queueing, text, and messaging.
But the biggest transformation from your customer’s perspective will be in the moments they reach digital dead ends. These are crucial transitions where the customer would normally be forced to switch channels, required to start all over again with a rep in a chat or call.
For a comprehensive solution, consider Mindful. It provides key digital features like online call scheduling for call centers and cross-channel context delivery—but all in one seamless package, so customers can transition across channels like voice, digital, and text without any hiccups. It smooths out the bumps in any digital channel and offers a premium customer experience.
3. Consider RPA software.
An RPA (robotic process automation) software suite or service can audit your workflow and identify which processes can be automated, either via artificial intelligence, live interaction, or a hybrid of both. RPA can help call centers by offering selling direction to agents or automatically distributing data across departments. In telecom specifically, RPA is helpful in monitoring, fraud data management, and updating customer information.
You want to make your business as technically easy and consumer friendly as possible since customers now expect that from their telecommunications companies, as well—you can thank Amazon, which made the online ordering and payment processes so simple. This automated experience isn’t just helpful for your team—it’ll ripple out and expedite the customer experience, too. That’s why in 2019, 25% of all customer interactions were automated.
Start by taking inventory of all your currently non-automated processes, like billing, contracts, or something as simple as taking old data from physical files and creating searchable databases with an RPA solution like UiPath, or various software tools like Keysight Technology’s Eggplant.
4. Upgrade your security and IT.
Upgrading your security and IT is a must. Any outage could be disastrous, and customers will associate downtime with your company, regardless of the reason behind it.
From April to November 2021, there have been over 25 network and cloud outages, impacting millions of customers from top-tier companies like Amazon, AT&T, Oracle, Microsoft, and Verizon. Worldwide, 25% of digital businesses report that an hour of downtime costs from $301,000 to $400,000, proving its negative impact on the bottom line.
And while most outages were server-side issues and technical blunders, some very public cyberattacks have hit companies and affected users. Remember the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack in May of 2021? The national gas supply was shut down by a cyberattack, resulting in Colonial Pipeline paying almost $5 million in ransom. Most businesses lose an average of $8,500 per hour due to ransomware-induced downtime.
Deploy a service to monitor your systems, so you know when downtime occurs (you don’t want to hear about downtime from your social media channels first) and create a team that specializes in downtime management and solutions. Look to your marketing teams to develop crisis-intervention protocols so you’re prepared when downtime hits. Remember to inform and educate customers through all of the appropriate channels—a dedicated status page, email, chatbots, social media, and SMS. This is another area where Mindful can help by managing the conversations and setting up schedules for your crisis management teams.
Telco communication response during downtime
How a telco usually responds to downtime:
- Uh oh! Something broke.
- Alert the proper teams, come up with a fix-it plan.
- Everyone stay late and fix this!
- Let customers know what happened and apologize.
- Whew, fixed and back to normal!
- Retrospective: Why this happened and what we can do to prevent it.
- Learn from your retro to retain the customer.
How a customer responds to downtime:
- Uh oh! Something broke!
- My service is interrupted right when I need it.
- Send an email asking what’s happening.
- Send an angrier email demanding some kind of compensation for my lost time.
- Service restored, but now I trust this company a little less.
- Research other companies (through social media or network) with fewer incidents.
- Switch companies.
5. Speak to your customer in their preferred channel.
Carriers and telecommunication service providers need to use an omnichannel approach to reach and support their customers because you can reach more customers at any point in their experience, which ultimately generates more customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.
And customers don’t want to talk to multiple agents—over 70% of customers believe it’s your responsibility to have all channels informed of their history, and 33% find repeating their information to multiple support reps frustrating. Having agents updated on customers with actionable data is another reason why your digital transformation will depend heavily on customer data from purchase history, browsing history, call history, and demographics.
A service like Mindful can consolidate a lot of omnichannel chatter. Worried about switching agents? Get to the right agent the first time by collecting the customer’s intent info when they schedule a call online. And maintaining context across channels is simple—a customer can start in voice or online, request a call, send validation info over text, and make every call extremely efficient before it even begins, with agents gaining access to all that data before the call even connects.
Summing up: Tackle your digital transformation strategy urgently, but in phases.
A digital transformation of your telecom business should be your top priority as more and more people shop online—but rushing into it will only lead to unfocused goals and unrealistic expectations.
Set goals for what you want to achieve with your digital transformation journey (sales? engagement? reputation?), then measure and monitor goals over pre-determined periods (check KPIs after three months, six months, and nine months as a guideline). If at any time in the process KPIs are not met, revisit the previous steps and see if there is a gap or roadblock.
Start with a basic, steadfast strategy that uses some of the steps above, then actively and patiently monitor the results.