In the realm of telecommunications, the customer is now king. Gone are the days of limited options and long-term lock-ins when telcos ruled the roost. In the digital era, customers have choices that they can – and do – exercise if they think they are not getting the best deal. For communication service providers, this means a need to focus on transformation in five key areas if they are to survive. They must pre-empt customer needs, unify customer data, operate a single catalog of products and services, be flexible, and bring omnichannel to sales and marketing.
Pre-empting the customer
Machine learning and big data, when properly utilized, can give telcos masses of information about their customers. By analyzing previous behavior in relation to purchases and interaction, they can predict what each customer or target group wants now – and what they will be looking for tomorrow – helping them to develop personalized offers. Data analysis and machine learning algorithms help to automate this process, for BSS, OSS and the Internet of things (IoT), and give telcos an edge when it comes to keeping customers happy – by bringing automated, predictive maintenance into play.
Unified customer data
The problem with big data is that the masses of information gathered can very easily stagnate into a swamp, with isolated pools in different places. So, telcos need to take control of the data by establishing a single database offering a 360-degree view of every customer. This database should, within the framework of up to date legislation, give access to customers’ profiles, services, products and interaction with the company. Apart from giving telcos the power of prediction outlined above, it also makes it clear which customers (such as those who are especially loyal) should get priority treatment.
A single product and service catalog
Having data in a single place doesn’t just apply to information about customers. By consolidating all products and services into a single catalog, telcos can react quickly and forcefully to changes in demand, and potentially stay a step ahead of their competition. BSS/OSS systems based on such a catalog should be capable of linking customers with services, flexible enough to allow automated offer management, and intuitive to use.
A single repository of customer data, together with a unified product and service catalog, give telcos an advantage in terms of pre-empting customer needs. The next step is to deliver on these. Essentially, a telco’s offer shouldn’t be limiting, but should be viewed as a starting point – perhaps composed of building blocks for truly customized services and products. Flexibility means being able to respond to customer demand, creating it from scratch if necessary. It also requires automatically scaling IoT environments that can keep up with demand, and the ability to handle all kinds of billing, even in multi-partner scenarios.
Catching a customer’s attention is one thing; keeping it is quite another. Today’s purchase journeys are often made at least in part via digital media – through laptops, smartphones and tablets. Customers can research and compare products and services quickly and easily, but may tire of returning to step one of the journey every time they switch media or simply take time out to consider an offer. Omnichannel creates a seamless journey for the customer, giving them continuity and control, and nurturing within them a sense that the company views them as an individual.