COVID-19 has caused economic struggles for businesses across the world — with the exception of telecom providers, who have thrived, largely due to a shift toward digital technology over the past few years.
The pandemic set the stage for a work-at-home revolution, pushing major telecom providers to adjust quickly to the sudden demand for reliable internet. Work culture has transformed as numerous companies decided to permanently implement remote work; new telecom technologies, such as 5G and automation, couldn’t come at a better time.
The ongoing transition to remote work will leave consumers expecting more from their telecom services, especially post-COVID. With a history of ranking second to last in customer satisfaction, there is mounting pressure to provide not only core services, but also an enhanced customer experience.
Providing the occasional proactive outreach when the customer has a problem or a need not being addressed will not only pre-empt problems, but also create sales opportunities.
Delivering quality service to existing customers
With most communications markets getting saturated, telecoms are realising they can’t only focus on getting new customers, says Gregg Johnson, CEO of Invoca, which sells call-tracking software used by marketers and call centre reps. “They need to make their existing customers happier,” says Johnson.
Many telecom companies could start by offering different tiers of service, says Thomas Davenport, a professor of information technology and management at Babson College. Very few, for example, offer premium experiences to their best customers, or higher-value offerings for the most price-conscious. “You can spend as much as you want with a telecom, and you’ll get the same lousy service,” he says.
AI will be a crucial part of meeting this challenge. Invoca’s software, for example, listens in on service reps’ calls with customers to flag possible service congestion or delays in a neighbourhood so they can be resolved proactively. Comcast uses data it collects from devices in the homes of its customers to troubleshoot and identify opportunities to upsell new products.
The telecom industry has sidestepped major obstacles over the years. Wi-Fi, once seen as a threat, became a way to offload soaring cellular traffic. Streaming services like Netflix went from a scourge that was going to bring the internet to its knees to a partner for many carriers. And while the cloud remains a threat to carriers’ once-lucrative sales of corporate IT services, many telecom firms have exited the data centre business and found new ways to add value.
Creating a more seamless omni-channel approach will require more than just new technologies. “In the future, carriers should be reaching out to make sure people are happy,” says Johnson. Providing the occasional proactive outreach when the customer has a problem or a need not being addressed will not only pre-empt problems, but also create sales opportunities.