Michael Smollan, Chief Growth and Innovation Officer, examines how the customer experience in the telecom industry has changed and what brands can do to provide a differentiated experience.
Prior to the ‘great staggering,’ which affected everything in every way, there was already a shift within the telecom industry, as lines began to blur between previously separate consumer channels, creating new synergies for brands and retailers to optimize the customer experience. However, as the pandemic accelerated transformation, things were set to change at a rate that no one could have predicted. In comparison, pre-pandemic employee work-from-home rates were only 4%; by April 2020, with a full-fledged lockdown in place, that figure had risen to around 30%. [www.Applause.com]
Working from home flipped the script because the all-day demand put telco performance in the spotlight, especially the customer experience (CX), which ranged from the level of service to how well products fit into their lives. In the midst of shifting expectations and behaviors, the goal posts needed to be repositioned to determine what brands and retailers needed to do differently in 2022 and beyond in order to meaningfully connect with customers.
According to Doxee, a company that specializes in innovating customer relationships, there are two tracks that will evolve around the customer experience in telecommunications: the human track and the technology track. Putting the customer first with their specific needs and requirements, while also driving digital innovation so that offers are diverse, interactions are satisfying, and options are as “human-centric” as possible.
According to Telco Trends 2022, getting to what matters will win the hearts of Telco consumers because they don’t just consider each of their interactions with a business when deciding who to select – they also consider how a brand portrays itself, what it stands for, and how serious the brand is about cyber-security. As 5G evolves, telcos must consider new services and revenue streams, as well as authentically partnering the customer experience – dubbed “the great brand equalizer.”
With 82% of telecom consumers considering alternatives if they have a bad customer journey and 27% abandoning the purchasing process entirely [source: US Telecom Report], focusing on solving customer pain points and delivering products and services to reduce friction is critical. Consumers today want personalized offers and control over their personal data. 22% of consumers are willing to share some personal information in exchange for a more personalized service or product [source: Rise of Mass Personalisation]. Businesses require this information to power these experiences.
“Similarly, enabling service excellence must be part of the customer experience for telecom brands and retailers from the moment a customer searches for a product.” This must be ingrained in a brand’s DNA. In my opinion, it goes beyond pricing and, some might argue, the product itself. To create a strongly differentiated experience, service must be the most important driver of customer loyalty every time,” said Michael Smollan, Smollan’s Chief Growth and Innovation Officer.
In terms of consumer sentiment, the latest South African Telecommunications Sentiment Index, produced in collaboration with Deloitte Africa, ranked the telecoms sector last when compared to the banking, insurance, and food industries. Despite the fact that loadshedding raises operational costs and the battle for additional broadband spectrum, telcos must close the gaps. Understanding customer expectations, providing omni-channel engagement, reaching out to disgruntled customers, and leveraging the power of big data and analytics will all contribute to the improvement of customer service as a critical deliverable. Changing the customer experience for the better.