In a competitive business like telecom where price and technology are no more the differentiating factors, what can make an operator stand out is the quality of customer experience and how it is being delivered.
No, its not vital just for Indian telcos, its rather absolutely critical for any service provider for whom customers hold the key to their success. But, in Indian context, at present scenario it holds much more weight for the Indian crowded telecom market. No other country in the world has as many operators as India, and in no other market competitors face such fierce competition.
And its also critical to remember, despite India offering telecom services at the second cheapest rate (Bangladesh tops the list), cost of the service or providing most affordable service in the world’s second largest market is no more a differentiator here.
CEM Is The Key
Then what is the key to their survival? Without an iota of doubt, its the customer experience. Your customers are not going to stay with you for long, if the experience they get is compromised.
Over the years, telecommunication has seen layers and layers of evolution, and most of it are from a technology point of view. The operators, globally, have transitioned their services from 2G to 3G to wimax to 4G, and some are even contemplating 5G. There are few trials going on this regard and this year’s edition of Mobile World Congress is full of new technologies like 5G and Internet of things. So far, so good. It appears the telecom industry is moving with the times, or even, little faster than the times. However, there is a miss, a big one – offering customer experience in accordance with the evolving times.
Customer experience, most importantly, the quality element of it, decides the stickiness of a customer with the brand. In a competitive business like telecom where price and technology are no more the differentiating factors, what can make an operator stand out is the quality of customer experience and how it is being delivered.
“A unified customer experience makes all the difference in ensuring and improving customer loyalty and minimising churn. The world has turned digital and to differentiate your brand from the clutter, it is imperative that operators cater to the customer’s entire lifecycle, while walking the tightrope of the silos of customer care, finance, sales and marketing and IT departments,” says Amit Sanyal, AVP & Head, Customer Value Management, Mahindra Comviva.
A recent study by IDC states that though the telecom industry has gone through a huge technological evolution, individual service providers have failed in strategizing a digital transformation of their companies. And the operators are admitting they are not transforming fast enough to the demands of the digital era.
CEM As A Service
Indian telcos have invested huge amount of money on hardware and software in order to provide telecom services to customers, however, investment on offering the right kind of customer experience has been a big miss. And this area is being tapped by experts in these domain like Mahindra Comviva and others. These companies offer CEM as stand alone products as well as on a managed service model. Mahindra Comviva, for example, has a suit of CEM solutions including managed customer experience management. As per the company, using CEM can get rid or hosts of challenges like stagnant revenue, low differentiation of service quality and lack of customer delight, besides saving huge cost.
Then, what is stopping the service providers go the digital way and offer best customer service experience? The first and foremost is lack of a proper strategy. 46% of operators surveyed by IDC admitted not having a strategy in place to digitally transform their organizations.
“As digital transformation is made up of multiple projects and initiatives, it’s clear from this research that companies in Asia Pacific fear timelines are slipping, and that they have serious concerns as to whether they have enough strategic focus and digital skills to transform fast enough,” says Jatinder Ahuja, head, India & South Asia, Amdocs whose company offers plethora of services including CEM solutions to majority of the global telecom operators in over 90 countries.
The other significant challenges include low adoption rates of digital channels, multi-vendor and legacy systems, and too many manual processes. This results in almost 80% of the digital transformation processes being executed as standalone projects, which does not give rise to the desired results.
First things first. The organizations need to have someone at C-level to strategize the transformation process. We could call him chief digital officer or CDO.
A similar sentiment echoes from Nigel Frenwick who serves as VP, and principal analyst at Forrester. In a recent Twitter chat on CEM, he said, “though the operators globally as well as in mature markets like India are concerned about customer experience, they lack awareness.”
The IDC report is bang right there. 89% of the respondents in its survey feel the need of a CDO in their organisation the fast moving digital era. However, only 28% of service providers have it.
The next big step is to find the right partner who offers end-to-end solution in your transformation journey, the partner that offers business agility, new digital skills and omni-channel customer experience.