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Connectivity Plus: How Telcos Can Move from Utility to Engaging Product
Communication Service Providers (CSPs) have been the hub of the home for years. Students use the internet to get help with homework, professionals need to check their email and nearly all of us indulge in some social media scrolling. In the past, people tended to only think about their internet providers when it stopped working – or when a bill landed in their inbox.
But as the pandemic lingers on, the presence of the CSP has moved from being another utility bill to being a staple that keeps us connected in a time when connection is so desperately needed. Our lives and homes are permeated with internet-based services, and we rely on them just like we do with any basic necessities. Internet usage has skyrocketed – students need it to attend classes, professionals working from home use it for everything from Zoom calls to building reports, and it now brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “social media.”
In light of this new environment, CSPs need to continue evolving their image away from being seen as another bill to pay to an engaging and helpful service. Below are three ways they can do just that.
Three Things CSPs Must Do to Stay Competitive
1. Optimize the Network
The first thing CSPs need to do is what they already do so well: deliver connectivity fast and reliable – faster and more reliable than ever before, actually. What complicates this goal is that usage, interference and congestion are also higher than ever, making it harder to provide the same service quality as before – much less extending it. Given how vital a strong connection is these days, internet interruptions could easily push many customers to another provider.
CSPs need to invest in enhancements to their traditional legacy systems in order to improve IT efficiency while building a business model that is open and flexible to innovation. They must find the balance between improving their systems performance and customer experience, while delivering a consistent and reliable connection that customers don’t even consider going anywhere else.
2. Personalize, Personalize, Personalize
Much like location is an essential part of the real estate industry, personalization is fundamental to the telco field. Perhaps most integral to transforming the CSP image from an intangible utility to premium service is giving customers the ability to personalize their network. This puts customers in the driver’s seat of their own technology.
CSPs not only need to give consumers basic control like changing passwords, using parental controls, monitoring activity across devices and troubleshooting their connection, but they need to deliver a whole new suite of solutions beyond broadband. This could include energy and utilities management, home chore automation, baby monitoring, pet tracking services and privacy and security solutions.
In addition to new services, CSPs need to offer more personalized, automated customer care solutions. As AI customer care assistants—or chatbots—become more sophisticated, they can take on the role of on-premise staff, freeing up employee time to focus on more complicated tasks. Pushing this thought further, CSPs can also become what I like to call the digital butler. The digital butler is a handy service for customers that proactively solves problems for them, like getting their Wi-Fi up and running. The digital butler is also the virtual security guy who makes sure the digital home is not compromised or broken into.
By providing a hyper-personalized experience to customers, you can exceed expectations and build satisfaction and trust in the long run.
3. Expand Data & Analytics Capabilities
Key to providing both personalization and network optimization is having advanced data and analytics capabilities. While CSPs might know their customers from a revenue-generating point of view, it’s crucial that they drill down on customer behavior, in a way that rigorously complies with international and local security guidelines.
While many CSPs do, in fact, capture an overwhelming volume of data, many fail to analyze it in a way that’s useful to serve their customers better. By dissecting bandwidth per device, quality of service and problems with lag, providers can use these insights to optimize the experience, building brand loyalty along the way. On the other hand, CSPs can use things like user behavior patterns and device usage to offer those aforementioned personalized digital services to interested customers.
We’ve seen a growing number of CSPs on this digital data journey building a single source of intelligence. They start gathering data from all customer interactions and services, storing this information in a central data and analytics platform and expose it to all relevant touchpoints. There’s benefit to all “customers” of this platform, be it the end consumers gaining control over their digital home, customer service for enhanced serviceability or business stakeholders to push data-driven product design.
Data and analytics are the crucial puzzle piece to providing customers with exactly what they need when they need it.
By implementing these three strategies, providers will make big steps towards meeting customer needs and avoid the risk of being left behind by the competition. Connectivity+ cannot start without technology that extends all the way from the hardware and firmware to the mobile application, however. In my next blog, I will discuss the technology building blocks that CSPs need to put into place to help them make these strategies a reality.