If digital acceleration underlies the future of telecoms services, an industry shifting towards a subscription economy will rely on loyalty. Here Xabier Miqueo and Keith Brody explain
That most of us have spent recent months in one way or another locked-down has meant we’ve all benefitted from having pause for thought. Well, ‘benefitted’ if we’ve used the time well! A frozen economy has, if not much else, given us something of a break to think about the future of our industry. As we all emerge from lockdown (at differing times around the globe), we should as a result have a clearer plan for what comes next.
That, of course, is the new digital landscape into which we’re heading. There’s not much argument that the pace of digitisation is increasing and will continue to do so. Among other things that means new, customer-attractive services will be required more than ever before. New partnerships will have to be crafted. And, as the subscription model becomes the likely base on which to develop longer-term, or even permanent relationships with customers, Use Cases will have to be rethought.
For communications service providers (CSPs), the ability to offer and then execute enhanced (digital) experiences to engage and retain their customers will be more critical than ever. CSPs must address the challenge of personalising the customer experience without delay. The shift towards a subscription economy, where ongoing relationships must be effectively managed on an ongoing rather than short-term basis to accrue long-term commercial benefits, means new challenges will spring up and must be met.
The ability to build sticky relationships with customers will be table stakes for the digital telecoms company. Only by adopting a digital-ready, next-generation customer engagement strategy can CSPs in future really expect to deliver a dynamic and data-driven experience to meet the rapidly changing expectations of the market in both the immediate and in the longer term. Customer engagement strategy, in other words, is the cornerstone to diversifying and growing revenue streams, particularly so in a subscription-driven arena.
The question for CSPs in light of this new reality is, what to do? Where to start? How can CSPs adapt to the evolving customer expectations of service? What are the attractive subscription-based relationships with users that will win market share? The obvious starting point is to define what a next-generation customer engagement strategy that is dynamic, data-driven, unified, and executed in real-time looks like. Beyond that is, of course, deploying it.
The future of telecoms services is thus likely to lie in a creative approach toward customer engagement – examples might be gamification and next-best offer – and this requires the foundation of a connected, agile and secure engagement platform. Pivoting towards an intelligent and automated approach will enable CSPs to deliver a consistent experience as new channels emerge, and will allow them to improve customer satisfaction, reduce churn, grow ARPU, revenue, and differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive market. If they can achieve this, the potential of the subscription economy will far exceed its traditional counterpart.
Flexibility and proposition-adaptability to emerging trends and customer behaviours will play a critical role. As digital services become more and more central, opportunities will be exponential. For example, in future CSPs will have to manage a large portfolio of automated, below-the-line, personalised lifecycle campaigns to keep up with the services their subscribers are likely to demand. Based on customer profiles and real-time event triggers, customers can be sent offers and/or notifications as reminders of expiring plans, new services or depleting balances. In the majority of cases today, we see that CSPs are running between 200-500 concurrent workflows, all triggering different offers and which are being personalised to the contextual time, balance and status of the customers.
At present, it is vital that CSPs have the flexibility they need to be able to suspend, adjust and re-start their portfolio of digital strategies, longer-term roadmaps and below-the-line data driven personalised campaigns. To do this, they need access to a solution that allows them to effect adjustments within minutes and hours rather than requiring days of manual scripting effort across multiple systems.
Leading analyst firm, Forrester, has noted that building a world-class loyalty programme is dependent on:
- Meeting the expectations of empowered consumers
- Creating value in relationships
- Leveraging real-time response capabilities.
- Managing customer data flows.
- Overcoming data, process, and technology silos.
The future of telecoms services will be personal and individual. By definition, the subscription approach is dependent on the building of lasting, loyal ongoing relationships rather than momentary surprise and delight. Digital CSPs will require a different strategic approach and a different technology foundation for communicating with their customers if their future is to fulfil its economic potential. The telecoms services landscape is on the cusp of significant and lasting change in terms of effective strategies. Now is the window of opportunity for CSPs to get ahead of the game.
Xabier Miqueo is Senior Marketing Consultant, and Keith Brody is VP Marketing, Evolving Systems. www.evolving.com