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Digitizing Telcos

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by Georgios Achillias
Director of Strategy, Wipro Digital
@Thibetian

Digitizing Telcos

In today’s hyper-connected world, consumers expect service providers to do more than offer competitively priced, reliable and attractive products; they expect providers to be responsive, flexible, and anticipatory of their needs. Younger consumers, in particular, assume they’ll have a personalized, convenient and seamless dialogue with companies across multiple channels.

In a fast-commoditizing market where customer interaction and service innovation are key strategic differentiators, meeting these expectations is both a challenge and an opportunity for Telcos. In fact, as consumers increasingly and rapidly turn away from voice service, time is of the essence.

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Digital natives will soon comprise 50% of the population. These tech-savvy customers gravitate toward companies that find the optimum balance between automation and direct interaction, knowing, for instance, when to reach out to customers unsolicited. The digital native prefers self and peer help over call-centers, and assumes their needs will be answered instantly.

These consumers understand their inherent value as buyers and expect, for instance, that whether they’re new or existing customers, they’ll have access to the same offers. They want providers with a complete view of the relationship who can personalize dialogue accordingly.

Telcos, however, aren’t meeting those expectations at all. In fact, today, when choosing a network, the customer journey is:

● Painful: researching and switching carriers is laborious, boring and difficult. It’s not at all easy to make educated comparisons.

● Weighed down by long lock-ins: with 18-month (on average) contracts and stiff penalties for cancellation, 95% of consumers are not in the market at any given moment.

● Focused on network performance: customers aren’t interested in their carriers until they get dropped. (The widespread perception that “Telcos means poor network performance” is a huge problem.)

● Driven by price: because carriers are perceived as a commodity with no added value, price is the decisive factor.

The bright side of this commoditized “bad trip” is that opportunities are ripe for disruption and reframing with new, emotionally-rich, benefit-laden experiences and criteria. Telcos can become successful by determining and delivering what people want in terms of content experiences and services, and by making those things exclusively accessible through their brands. In other words, they need to become digital.

This requires two core changes:

De-commoditization: a focus on brand preference will reduce churn and help providers earn loyalty through brand-exclusive, relevant content, experiences and services.

“Being more”: with 4G, phones can become portals and enablers of consumers’ personal lifestyles. Telcos needs to showcase the new reality that 4G integrates and is an integral part of people’s personal ecosystems. (This can be expressed in two ways: “What matters to me, I can access on my phone” or “my life is enhanced by my phone.”) This “be more” emotional end benefit is something people want and something brands should aspire to own.

How Telcos Can “Be More”

This new technology and approach enables a richer life-experience through personalization: my content, my connections, and my experiences. To be part of that customer experience Telco brands need to:

● Reinvent themselves, becoming content-producers and experience-providers. This has massive implications on internal organization, allocation of resources and external partner choices and relations.

● Identify, seize and own culture areas, both global and local, that are broad enough for mass appeal and unclaimed or uncontested by competitors. These culture areas should fit the personality of the brand and be things that people are passionate about.

● Deliver content and experiences around these culture areas. Brand-exclusive content and experiences provide added value to people because they’re relevant and attractive enough to enhance their lives. This creates an emotional bond that drives brand preference and loyalty.

● Integrate and spotlight the mobile device in such a way that it becomes the centerpiece of these experiences. Customers need to feel that through these devices held in their hands, experiences and their lives are enhanced.

Questions Telcos Should Ask

The steps to enhance customer engagement seem clear. Few Telcos, however, understand what being a digital Telco will really mean to their organizations. They’ll need to ask some ground-breaking questions and commit to change page decisions:

● How do we expand the number of customer interaction channels while ensuring a seamless experience across all of them?

● How do we harness external partners’ expertise without relinquishing control?

● How well integrated can we get with the existing digital ecosystem while being digitally transformed?

● How should we differentiate pricing and propositions—if at all—between new and existing customers?

● How do we decide if we should risk providing a premium service to customers based on likely lifetime value or willingness to pay?

● How do we take advantage of the data we own while respecting our customers’ privacy?

● How do we determine if it’s more important to fix basics quickly or focus on developing a full-fledged Omni channel experience?

There are no absolute answers, no silver bullet. How Telcos respond will depend upon the dynamics in their specific markets, how they want to position themselves, and their customer interaction agendas. But these questions do need to be asked—and answered— sooner rather than later.

Originally posted via Wipro Digital

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