Contact Centers Help Telcos Play to Win
July 23, 2014
July 23, 2014
It is no secret that customer retention and subscriber growth are critical to the survival of many telecom companies. To grow and combat threats coming from new competitors, including over-the-top (OTT) players such as Google, Amazon, Apple and WhatsApp, telecoms will have to move beyond business as usual to capitalizing on innovation.
However, Telecoms need to take a more holistic view toward innovation, moving beyond thinking of just new services and products. Innovations can include taking advantage of the centrality of their network, cost-saving measures and the non-monetary benefits of business process improvements, say Ovum analysts in a recent report. Unfortunately, many telcos’ innovation strategies are often reactive which can negate the benefits derived from well-planned, long-term improvements.
“As a result, when viewed from the outside, it seems that most telcos are pursuing a ’play not to lose‘ innovation strategy rather than a ’play to win‘ approach,” a typical strategy employed by enterprises in mature markets, the Ovum authors said. “Such a strategy is highly vulnerable to nimble new entrants that can move swiftly to disrupt the market and leave the established players with little time to maneuver.”
One key to successful innovation is learning how to listen to what customers have to say and putting this knowledge into action. Many telecom companies, however, have not done a good job of listening and using customer information strategically. The potential for cost reduction and quality improvements that can be realized from customer insights available in the contact center has often been considered distinct to innovation. But it’s time for that view to change.
Many telcos do not have visibility into subscribers’ buying behavior, preferences, or expectations. They don’t know which subscribers are their best customers, nor do they have insight into individuals, which hampers their segmentation capabilities. They do not have the ability to predict responses to new bundles or product offers. The lack of a big-picture perspective keeps telcos from anticipating a customer’s needs and wants to determine that customer’s true lifetime value and their willingness to entertain up-sell and cross-sell opportunities.
Telecoms can leverage their contact center provider to gain this insight, making them a partner to innovation. Sophisticated contact centers can analyze customer data and the voice of the customer; information that’s hard to get from other customer touch points which can shed light on new opportunities.
Most telcos see call centers only as cost centers—not strategic assets. The companies that shift their mindset stand to gain valuable business intelligence that can help them deliver what customers want and provide a powerful differentiator in the marketplace. Rather than assessing innovation from a net-new or cannibalized revenue outlook, the concept of “saved revenues” should come into play. This area is one that the partnership between telcos and their contact center providers can bring to the fore.
Call centers can provide unsolicited customer information not easily obtained from surveys or in-person store visits. Agents talk to customers close to an event, such as their response to a new bundle offer or product upgrade. Agents have conversations that never happen with surveys or when retail lines are three deep. The information gleaned from agent conversations can be aggregated and used strategically to deliver on customer expectations.
Information such as customer history, situation and previous behaviors can be used to predict which customers are likely to defect, where service delivery gaps exist or where cross-sell opportunities would be thoughtfully considered. These insights can also be used to uncover value desirable to customers to be gained by developing ancillary services that embellish core offerings, such as apps and cloud-based services.
Contact centers should be charged with gathering and providing real-time feedback that can be used to adjust offers, pricing or bundles. Armed with this information, telcos can better determine—and then increase—the lifetime value of the customer. Part of this can be done through pricing and part of it through “saved revenue” that occurs with longer, more satisfied customer relationships.
Contact Centers can be strategic partners that help telcos play to win, providing business intelligence that other customer touch points can’t provide. Contact centers also provide an execution vehicle to establish clear, realistic criteria of what needs to be achieved to impact “saved revenues.” This helps to eliminate barriers to execution that often exist for bringing innovation strategies to life for telecoms.
A strategic partnership with your contact center provider can produce the intelligence needed for a customer-centric restructuring effort that is designed to simplify the processes and support necessary to serve the market and improve the customer experience. Faster and leaner operating models will prove to provide a continuous source of innovation that’s been difficult for telcos to realize in the past.
Delivering on what customers want by tailoring customer service as closely as possible to the type of customer leads to successful engagements, long-term loyalty and an increase to “saved” revenue—as well as incremental improvements to ARPA. The telecom players that understand how to leverage their call center provider strategically stand to gain a formidable competitive advantage as the “enabler of the digital world” their customers so value. That the contact center can get new processes and offers to market quickly ensures that benefits don’t evaporate before they can be realized.