In telecoms, as in other sectors, the battle to win and retain customers has become increasingly fierce. Customers have become more empowered in challenging markets while the shift to digital channels has made it much easier for them to move their business, if they are not satisfied, or see a better offer elsewhere.
The concepts of the customer journey and the customer experience (CX) have, therefore, become well-established with telcos and MNOs as they seek to design and implement processes and offerings that provide seamless service, and truly fulfil a customer’s expectations.
5G will really bring this into focus and take it to a new level of importance.
In telecoms, the customer journey concept is especially relevant as there are so many touchpoints between the customer and the service provider, from initial on-boarding to service activation, billing and contract renewal, add-ons and upgrades.
But the fact is that the sector’s CX performance has only been average or lower, relative to other industries, and leaves a lot of room for improvement. With 5G now arriving, operators need to up their game.
The KPMG Nunwood 2019 Customer Experience Excellence analysis report finds that telecoms rank in sixth position, out of the ten sectors tracked, in terms of the overall CX score.
This picture is not unique to the UK. I myself work in the Portuguese market, as well as in the UK, and we see a similar story in Portugal where the telco customer journey remains fragmented, despite all the efforts to improve the overall customer experience. In fact, leading companies – in telecoms and other sectors too – are designing customer journeys with a CX economics focus, both driving down cost and increasing revenues. This equation is designed to ensure that the customer experience is financially optimised and is neither under - nor over - engineered.
KPMG has extensive experience of working with telcos and MNOs – and companies in many other sectors – in analysing, understanding and then improving the customer journey. Such work has never been more relevant than with the advent of 5G.
Operators have been embracing substantial projects to integrate and upgrade their various legacy and current platforms, and have been investing in new systems to enable more real-time interactions with customers, while also increasing the individuals’ ability to self-serve.
As 5G uptake grows, getting the CX journey right will be more important than ever for telcos and MNOs. In fact, it could be the difference between success and failure in the consumer space.
There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, telco investment in 5G will be truly substantial. That makes it essential to maximise revenues and reduce costs in the customer journey. Otherwise, a return on investment could become all but impossible.
Secondly, with all the hype around 5G, customers’ expectations of service excellence will be higher than ever. They will need to make a significant investment themselves in new 5G handsets and offerings, and will be expecting the service to match. The service quality that 5G technology offers – its speed and responsiveness, reliability, huge data and bandwidth, allowing advanced streaming, gaming and virtual reality applications – will inevitably raise expectations to new heights.
Customers will expect increased levels of autonomy, easy and immediate interaction with customer service, all their information to be instantly transferred and available between channels, and any issues such as with billing or pricing to be quickly and effectively resolved.
It will put a lot of pressure on telcos not only to get customer service right first time, every time, but to go further and anticipate customer needs, proactively creating brand new experiences and amazing their customers. After all, we now live in an era of customer advocacy where, through social media and other channels, individuals can share exceptional experiences so that they resonate beyond one sector and influence other consumers. Telcos need to achieve this kind of advocacy with 5G.
For this, operators will need to be able to fully exploit data and analytics as well as business intelligence in order to act and react quickly to customer demand and service level needs. They will also need to work with other sectors to add connectivity to existing products, or create new connected products, and develop integrated offerings. In the consumer sector, the development of sophisticated wearables, IoT-connected domestic appliances, proactive health monitoring equipment, and many more devices besides, all working through an MNO’s 5G network, will create new value propositions and, therefore, new customer journeys.
There cannot be a disconnect. The advent of 5G needs to be the catalyst for telcos to truly up their game around the customer journey and become leaders in CX excellence, setting the standard for other industries to aspire to.
The operators that manage this, positioning themselves in the 5G ecosystem to deliver the next level of a truly connected customer experience, will reap the rewards.
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