Cable providers, telecoms, and mobile operators are facing unprecedented challenges. The commoditization of voice and data services. Cord-cutting due to over-the-top (OTT) options. Emerging connectivity alternatives such as fixed wireless offered by aggressive newcomers. All threaten the traditional revenue streams communications service providers (CSPs) once thrived on. How can CSPs stem churn and grow recurring revenues in the face of unyielding competition? One of the best ways is to make customer focus a top priority. Here are five customer-centric moves to make this year.
Make a top-down commitment to customer centricity
Ensuring subscriber loyalty and satisfaction begins at the top. To make serious progress, consider bringing a customer advocate into the C-suite, such as a Chief Customer Officer (CCO) or Customer Experience Officer (CXO).
These executives are empowered to oversee all customer experience efforts throughout your lines of business. To do their jobs, however, they need something that’s in short supply in most comms organizations today: full visibility across departmental silos and business units.
The legacy systems most CSPs rely on to run their businesses, collectively known as OSS/BSS, make it extremely difficult to gain a 360-degree view into business activities that impact the customer experience. An effective way to overcome those limitations is to apply cloud-based solutions that integrate on top of OSS/BSS infrastructure.
Start tracking emerging customer-related metrics
In the Age of the Customer, one measure every KPI dashboard should have is Quality of Experience (QoE). Unlike its more famous cousin, Quality of Service (QoS), which quantifies technical benchmarks such as download speeds, QoE is subjective. It gauges how customers feel about their entire experience with your company, including your products, services, and customer interactions.
Back when you were the only game in town, you might have been able to skate by without a solid a picture of customer sentiment. Now that your customers have more communications options than ever, knowing exactly how they feel is no longer a nice-to-have—it’s imperative. Knowing exactly how your customers feel is no longer a nice-to-have—it’s imperative. Click To Tweet
Another useful metric is Average Margin Per User (AMPU). It’s a revealing complement to Average Revenue Per User (ARPU), which is found throughout the telecom industry. By factoring in costs such as those involved in customer acquisition and service deployment, AMPU offers a more accurate way of tracking how much your revenues are actually adding to your bottom line. That’s invaluable data to have when the costs of growing market share in the era of the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G connectivity can suck the air right out of your profits.
Personalize service with true omnichannel experiences
Back in the day, if you offered customers the ability to engage with you over voice, email, and chat, that was considered personalized service. These days, multichannel touch alone won’t cut it.
Today’s digitally fluent customers expect to move seamlessly from one communications channel to the next during the same engagement. For instance, they might initially contact technical support through chat, but then want to speak with an agent without having to repeat themselves. That requires true omnichannel functionality—the ability to continue conversations and transactions across devices while maintaining full context and unbroken communications.
It’s a high bar, no doubt. But it’s one that other industries have already crossed, and yours must, too.
Resolve service issues faster
When it comes to customer service, the track record for CSPs is, to put it mildly, less than ideal. Despite significant strides in recent years to improve service, when gauged by customer metrics such as Net Promoter Scores (NPS), the comms industry comes in dead last. According to an October 2016 NPS Benchmark from Temkin Group, Internet service providers and TV service providers occupied the bottom two rungs out of the top 20 industries surveyed. Wireless carriers fared little better, landing fifth from the bottom—just above health plans. Ouch.
Uninformed first and second tier support personnel. Contact centers incapable of capturing issues effectively. Dropped support tickets. Inscrutable billing charges. Infractions like these were once merely annoying. Given today’s competitive communications landscape, they can be deadly to your retention and recurring revenue targets.
To elevate customer service, you must acquire the capability to respond effectively, even as your communications business expands to accommodate increasingly sophisticated cloud-connected devices, products, and services.
Harness customer data effectively
Customer centricity is more than simply providing better customer service. It’s also about gaining a comprehensive view of your customers. Yes, so you can serve them better. But also so you can build relationships that drive higher customer lifetime value. Only data can give you that view.
The good news for comms is that they have access to more customer data than practically any other industry. The bad news is that many are not using it effectively. To begin with, in typical comms organizations, customer data is collected for very narrow purposes, such as calculating data usage on a phone bill. Worse still, this data is also strewn across separate OSS/BSS silos, such as billing, accounts, finance, provisioning, and CRM.
As a result, it’s nearly impossible to quickly consolidate diverse customer information to shed light on customer behaviors and usage patterns. For example, by analyzing consumption data, CSPs can identify which customers or customer groups are high-maintenance and price-sensitive versus those who can serve themselves and who upgrade frequently. With such insights, comms can offer customers incentives, discounts, and cross-sell and upsell opportunities that truly resonate because they’re based on the customers’ specific history and preferences.
Regrettably, too many service providers lack the integration and digital virtuosity it takes to harness customer data to improve customer experiences—and their own nurturing efforts.
Taking customer focus to the next level
Infusing your operations with customer focus is not a quick fix. It must be an ongoing effort, one that also may require adding digital prowess and cloud-driven capabilities to your outmoded OSS/BSS systems. But what customer centricity gives you in return is irreplaceable: the ability to generate the stickiness your communications business needs to grow revenues at a time of ceaseless competition, soaring expectations and head-spinning technological advancement.
Are you attending Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year? Set up a 1:1 meeting with an Aria executive to explore how the Aria Crescendo monetization platform can help your organization gain speed and agility in accelerating your revenue.