The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting crises have had an unprecedented impact on society and almost every industry, including telecommunications. Connectivity has never been as important as it is now. Online, touchless communication plays a crucial role in keeping businesses, governments, and societies connected.
What does this sudden and very unexpected change mean for telecoms, and how should they respond to it?
COVID-19 as a catalyst for telco digital transformation
Telecoms have been on the road to digital transformation for quite some time. But COVID-19, more than any other event, has made it clear that CSPs need to speed up their switch to the digital world. Due to the situation, large parts of the populations of many countries stay home almost 24/7 – working remotely, streaming and learning online, and benefiting from telemedicine as much as possible. With ongoing restrictions, many retail businesses were forced to shut stores and went online – where they will probably stay for a while.
This, combined with the need to stay in-touch, even though people are physically separate, created an urge for rapid digital transformation in the telecommunications industry.
Adjustments need to be made
With this sudden turn of events, telecoms may not have been entirely prepared for the current market needs. Of course, many aspects of digitization – such as preparing cloud native, easily scalable infrastructure to match growing interest and meet demand, or delivering portals and apps enabling customers to manage and order services online (thus unburdening employees in-store) have already been addressed. But telecoms need to do more. They need to become digital service providers (DSP), and the customer must become the center of their attention.
Get ready for a real omnichannel approach
Omnichannel has became a buzzword in recent years. Every company wants to utilize a multichannel approach, but rarely does so. Providing a true omnichannel experience means that a business needs to be available and attentive wherever and whenever the customer wants it (in-store, on the website, on social media, on the phone, etc.), but this doesn’t only mean that the brand needs to appear in all these places – it needs to provide a feeling of a real relationship, providing a seamless connection with the customer. So, for example, when a customer sees an attractive offer online and starts the purchase process, but halts this for some reason before completion, they can call a consultant and finish the deal on the phone. True omnichannel means that you can provide your customer with the same care and possibilities in any channel they choose. This is what we enable with our self-service platform, which is part of our complex BSS solution. It provides telecoms with a tool to handle the needs of customers in our digital era.
Implement the right innovations
Technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) bring many new possibilities to telecoms, including in terms of customer experience and personalization. But it is important to implement them reasonably. Customer might sometimes feel overwhelmed or even suspicious. For example, customers often appreciate it when you show that you understand what they need – but they might also feel intimidated if you go too far. The same thing applies when companies use too many different technological gimmicks, such as chatbots or voice assistants. It’s important to be mindful of your customers and to understand the fine line between thoughtful and, well, creepy.
Don’t forget to stay human
The pandemic has also highlighted one more important thing – machines cannot replace human interactions. Customers are looking for more convenient, rapid ways to do what needs to be done. At the same time, they crave a humanized digital experience. So, while they want most simple actions (such as ordering new products or adding services) to be done without unnecessary interactions, they also would like to be able to ask for human help when it comes to more difficult parts – such as deciding which subscription to choose or fixing a bug.
Take inspiration from other digital players
When it comes to digital and touchless service provision, Netflix and Uber are clear leaders. Telecoms can learn from them and their experience. Simple and clear offers, online payments, AI-driven personalization, smooth omnichannel journeys – these make the overall experience with platforms friendly and effortless for the user. Taking advantage of the knowledge and experience gained by others, communication service providers can adapt those good practices in their businesses. Digital transformation is much easier for telecom operators, who are eager to learn from other players.
Adaptation – the key to success in the digital future
The COVID-19 crisis is unprecedented, but it has definitely proven that the future can be very unexpected. Telecoms need to prepare for the only thing that is never going to change – the need to constantly keep their fingers on the pulse and stay flexible in order to adapt to new situations.
As with any other major change, this pandemic has shown us that we need to re-evaluate our priorities, and learn more about our strengths and weaknesses. Not only when it comes to our personal lives, but also when we think about our business.
This time there is one important lesson: put your customer in the center. Learn their needs, behavior and preferences, and address them. Prepare your telco BSS and customer service for new market demands. When you think about technology, think about it in the context of the people who will utilize it.
If you’d like to learn how we address all of these issues in our products for telecoms, visit our BSS site and discover how we can tackle the future challenges together.