In the last decade, telecom businesses have undergone huge changes due to digitization. The core usage of voice and text services have reduced as social media platforms have presented diversified opportunities for people to connect with each other. A slew of new, upcoming and innovative digital devices as well as over-the-top (OTT) software and applications have marginalized core telecom business, causing a digital disruption. In fact, telecom is the largest industry to be affected by digitization, second only to media.
The inevitable digitization presents a new opportunity to telecom players to improvise, innovate, or at least, re-invent, by means of exploration and development. For those who make digitization a priority, the multifarious possibilities make it easy to stay ahead of the power curve. A feasible possibility suggested by McKinsey is to enter the fray for digital offerings that go beyond core telecom or to provide a network to enable the Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
As a UX designer, I thought about the frequent changes telecoms have undergone in recent times. While it seems that the conventional backbone structure of the telecom industry has been shaken, there’s a lot that can be benefitted from increased data accessibility, analytics and digitization. Here’s a UX-ified approach that may save the telecom industry in the age of digitization:
1. User-centric Approach for Telecom Growth
My experience as a UX designer has always taught me to put the customers first. Understanding a customer’s journey from beginning to end, covering all touch-points can provide required insights to boost performance and subsequently, revenues. Personally, I advocate a two-fork approach to give the telecom industry a much-needed boost. Apart from offering new devices, products and services, a lot can be accomplished by focusing on the basic connectivity. Poor connectivity and lax customer services seem to be prominent complaints that customers have against their chosen telecom operators. In UX terms, a product that fails to meet the basic user expectations is headed straight to failure. Offering the bare minimum deliverable (connectivity & network coverage) in a robust manner is the first step that telecom companies need to set their foothold on before they venture into additional services.
Companies that focus on customer journeys that are most crucial to user segments among their consumer base can claim better customer loyalty and profits by mapping the customer experience across various channels and devices and eliminating their biggest pain points.
2. User Research and Advanced Analytics
The users of telecom operators are invariably connected to the network via voice, text and other Internet-based smartphone interactions such as apps for health, entertainment, finance, food, fitness, energy and safety measures. Add to that the data consolidated from socio-demographic data (obtained when a user subscribes to a particular telecom operator) and physical customer touch-points such as customer service centers. With every aspect of a user being mapped out via their phone, the telecom industry sits atop large quantities of data. Unfortunately, there are just a few companies that leverage this data-mine they possess.
Although from a different industry, Google leads the way in putting user data to work. By connecting all aligned products such as G-mail, Calendar, and Contacts; it offers a seamless experience to users and eases up the process of switching from one product to another. For instance, a confirmation ‘mail’ for booking of air tickets, or a meeting scheduled with any of your ‘contacts’ gets automatically synced to your ‘calendar’.
Applicability of data consolidated from user and market research holds a strong position in all UX projects we undertake. And, the relevance of data science cannot be argued upon in telecom industry (or any other industry, for that matter) either.
The huge data accessibility can solve major issues faced by the telecom industry today. Advanced analytics can give an insight into peak usage hours, which in turn, can help the companies to address network congestion issues. Similarly, mapping out individual consumer details on a regular basis can help the operators differentiate between high-priority clients from defectors. It would, then, become easier for operators to plan out added value services to top-priority clients as well as prevent revenue loss by providing bite-sized payment options to defectors.
The operation and services of telecom operators can be largely and positively altered by data science. Problem-solving and iterations based on algorithms can be a reliable source to make commendable decisions that set the course of an agile network.
One of the leading telecom players, Verizon has recently come up with variable data-oriented prepaid plans to cater to next-gen users. It includes alluring features like carryover data and mobile hotspots in addition to unlimited voice and text services within the US. Additional services like unlimited calling to neighboring countries (Mexico and Canada) can be availed at minimal prices. This has happened by a clear mapping of maximum usage in terms of voice, text and data-based services, as well as territorial mapping of service radius. Such lucrative offers have helped the company secure new subscribers.
In conclusion, advanced analytics and data science can help telecom operators provide a superior consumer experience. Just the way, it has always helped and backed up every UX project.
3. Simplicity and Clarity
Another benchmark for great UX designs is simplicity and clarity of your product and services to the users. Basic human psychology suggests that as complex as the human mind is, it appreciates simplicity and is naturally bound to lean towards it.
Instead of adding up multiple elements to attract telecom subscribers, it serves much better to streamline the service and application infrastructure. The same approach works to smooth out the internal operations as well.
An ideal UX applicability to streamline internal operations in the telecom sector would be aimed at the removal of redundant platforms, automated server deployment. At the consumer touch-points, it can be reflected by automated service-ticket management, simplified billing, and reduced service errors. Another approach could be directed towards adjustment of storage capacity and load volumes.
These long-winded UX solutions might look complex and demand a lot of time and effort to be implemented. But once executed, they contribute significantly towards internal productivity, customer satisfaction, cost-saving, and business growth.
4. Added Value Integration
A core belief of UX approach is not only to produce products that work flawlessly but also to add value to the existing services. A well-accomplished UX project calls for a seamless and superior experience in every interaction.
As the customer journey radically shifts towards digital touch-points, it is imperative for all telecom operators to strengthen existing digital assets such as a website, dedicated mobile apps and social media.
One of the earliest industry sectors to have witnessed a profound effect of digitization is banking and financial services. While the brick-and-mortar structures still hold their relevancy, the user base on all levels, from personal to commercial banking, has radically shifted towards the digital processes. The digitization has benefitted the banking industry in two ways: by reducing the cost invested in internal operations and by augmenting frontline services.
It is advisable to set up individual digital business units that solely focus on building up digital-service portfolios. Initially, these units should develop solutions that are aligned to the core business but provide an outlet for additional business growth. Later on, they can consider third-party partnerships to complement existing services and broaden their outreach. In the entertainment sector, Netflix and Spotify present excellent partnership opportunities that can give a competitive advantage to the telecom partner with customized packages to lure in more customers.
Once again, Verizon has done a commendable job in using the data derived from user research to scale up from the basic services and offer a dedicated, multi-featured communication system to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The company zeroed in on the priorities and challenges faced by SMEs in their daily operations and team management. In collaboration with Google Apps for Businesses, Verizon offered their SME clients a highly reliable, potent and affordable, cloud-based console to boost workforce productivity as well as to enhance customer services.
The seemingly sophisticated product by Verizon brilliantly illustrates how telecom companies can benefit from added value integration.
A steady and sturdy digitized business model, built as such will not only lower cost per acquisition (CPA) and customer relationship management (CRM) for telecom operators but also build brand loyalty and stature as a market leader.
At Koru, our team excels in turning around complex B2B platforms such as websites, software and applications into elegant and highly-functional experiences, customized for both end users as well as internal operations. Learn more about our expertise and contact us today to know how we can help you scale your business.