Aside from the excitement around network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN), TM Forum Live! 2014 had another undeniable theme: the customer experience. Among the keynote speeches and conferences, the idea that customers were in control of the industry’s destiny was everywhere.
Perhaps the person that summed up the situation most eloquently was Michael Matthews, chairman of Archer Mobile, who told communications service providers (CSPs), “Your greatest competitor is your customer’s future expectation.”
The telecommunications industry doesn’t just have to adjust to the data needs and bandwidth requirements of consumers today. In fact, in addition to the clear need for intelligent data monetisation strategies, CSPs have to anticipate what customers will expect tomorrow – and that will mean overhauling their back-office systems, breaking down organisational silos and taking a serious look at advanced and predictive analytics. It could also mean rethinking how mobile data is monetised.
Flipping the Model Upside-Down
Another story that was told during the conference was of a customer experience gone wrong. When a customer had a problem with the cable bill and wasn’t able to pay it, he tried to get in touch with his Internet service provider (ISP). But without the number of the ISP, that wasn’t possible.
That model is operator-centric, not customer-centric– today, CSPs will need to reconsider how to build business around an improved and engaging customer experience. Another cautionary tale told at TM Forum Live! was how, after discovering that customers generally churned after two years, a CSP stopped investing in services for customers after one year.
As mobile growth slows in maturing markets, this short-sighted formula is only going to hurt CSPs. To build loyalty, CSPs have to continue to build business by creating and continually supporting memorable customer experiences.
As Matthews explained, new business is going to come from anticipating customer needs. That will be dependent on understanding what customers want and when they want it. One speaker described how people now “live in a feed.” They’re constantly streaming data from their phones. To fit in, CSPs have to build services that drop into the feed and match their needs.
LTE is already rolling out to various markets and VoLTE/IMS is starting to emerge in some marketplaces as well. With 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT) barreling down on us, those needs are only going to get more complex.
The Crystal Ball
Learning what kinds of service offerings will engage customers will require contextual intelligence at different—and every—customer touch point. CSPs must be able to parse through their data, and CIOs, CTOs and CMOs must work together to make the most of that knowledge. With the right technology, CSPs will finally be able to learn how customers are interacting with networks, service and their peers, and better target and engage them.
The right tools and the right team can make a world of difference, and for CSPs, that may mean the start of a new era that puts excellent customer experience and loyalty at the forefront, leading to more sustainable and innovative revenue streams.
Want to learn more about building a better customer experience? Download “10 more methods to monetise mobile data,” written by consulting firm tefficient, an international efficiency specialist for telecom operators and suppliers & sponsored by Comptel.