The modern customer expects many things from telecommunications companies — convenience, simplicity, intuitiveness, trustworthiness, and more. Two such expectations in particular, however, must be present at all times: technological enablement and a satisfying experience.
The organizations that see the most success have found a way to unite these key elements. The result is a digital customer experience, and it presents a wealth of opportunities for personalization, engagement, revenue enablement, and brand loyalty. If organizations seize these opportunities, they will gain a competitive advantage.
Here’s what all telco organizations need to know about the digital customer experience and how to leverage it.
Customer Experience: Traditional vs. Digital
Customer expectations move quickly, impacted by everything from political unrest and economic disruptions to social and technological trends. The definition of “the customer experience,” therefore, must move equally fluidly.
Customer Experience (CX)
Gartner currently defines the customer experience as a combination of “perceptions and related feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with a supplier’s employees, systems, channels, or products.”
Note that Gartner doesn’t differentiate between traditional and digital interactions. Rather, customer sentiment remains a constant — and that’s what makes it foundational for understanding the difference between traditional and digital CX. The tools, delivery methods, and customer journey interactions change, not the end goal.
Beyond this basic definition, customer experience can be broken down into two types:
Traditional Customer Experience
The traditional customer experience is often shaped by comparatively old-school interactions, including phone calls and in-person meetings. There’s frequently a focus on closing deals and making sales — which, while important, can make the customer feel like their needs and sentiments are of secondary importance.
Digital solutions, such as email, can sometimes be present in these touchpoints, especially in telco organizations. However, if those digital solutions aren’t comprehensive and foundational, CX is still considered “traditional.”
Digital Customer Experience
Naturally, a digital experience is defined by its utilization of online tools, software, and communication platforms. It’s not just a digitized version of traditional CX; to be truly “digital,” interactions must be designed around the expanded features and functionality of the online world.
For example, say a business owner needs a new phone system. In traditional CX, this shopper might have to search a static website or call their telco company for customer service. With a digital experience, however, that same shopper could browse a platform customized based on their industry, needs, and previous purchases, exploring videos on phone system features and previewing 3-D renders of the hardware. They might even do all of this through a mobile app.
Why Digital Customer Experience Is So Important in Telco
Digital CX is important in every industry, but that’s especially true for telco companies. Here’s why digital transformation in the customer journey is vital:
According to Salesforce, customer expectations are high across the board:
- 56% are looking for personalization.
- 85% demand consistent experiences across all departments.
- 88% expect companies to accelerate digital transformation and other initiatives.
Because the telco industry is positioned at the intersection of technology and communication, this creates particularly high expectations. Shoppers may not trust a company that promises connectivity, collaboration, and comprehensiveness without being able to offer these things at every step of its customer journey.
Digital CX brings the possibility of “anytime, anywhere” customer service, but it also presents countless new ways to interact with a telco company. Digital transformation removes barriers and makes previously difficult tasks much easier. For example, if a customer doesn’t have time or otherwise can’t make a phone call, they can use one of many online interactions — such as a chatbot or self-service library — to get the help they need.
Keeping Pace With Changing Customer Needs
Customers don’t just expect more from their telco partners; they also need more. As communication becomes more complicated and data-heavy, users rely on telco companies to provide advanced options for customer service and support. Digital CX makes it possible to keep up with these fast-changing needs — for example, increased omnichannel support and self-service.
Driving Customer Engagement
According to Gallup, fully-engaged customers contribute up to 23% more to profitability and revenue. More engagement can lead to 66% higher sales growth, a 25% increase in customer loyalty, a 10% increase in net profit, and more. Fortunately, digital transformation provides new opportunities to drive engagement, allowing customers to choose their favorite ways to interact and communicate with telco organizations.
Taking Advantage of Customer Insights
A digitally transformed customer journey also provides a large amount of customer data that, in turn, presents valuable insights for telco companies, including:
- How customers interact with the business.
- What their preferred digital channels are.
- How often they make a purchase.
- What types of customer feedback are offered and how often.
When an experience takes place in a digital environment, tracking and analytics tools can be built in to provide first-hand information on key performance indicators (KPIs).
What Does a Good Digital CX Look Like in Telco Organizations?
Telco companies face different challenges, offerings, and audiences from other businesses. As such, good digital CX must be approached differently in this industry.
Here’s what digital customer experiences should look like:
Two parts of the customer journey — Awareness and Consideration — rely heavily on information. In traditional CX, the distribution of this information may feel limited; however, with digital tools and solutions, it’s much easier to leverage communication methods that are customer-driven instead of sales-driven.
One good example of this is content creation such as a blog. By writing posts about telco customer pain points, frequently asked questions, and relevant topics, organizations begin curating a digital experience before the user is officially a customer. This creates a solid, trustworthy foundation and may even simplify the conversion process, as the user will already have information about products, offerings, services, and more.
As the user moves further into the sales funnel, digital CX presents even more opportunities. Telco companies can take advantage of explainer videos, chatbots, knowledge libraries, and other types of content to help customers feel in control of their research process.
Key Takeaway: Any information-gathering stage of the customer journey should be enhanced, simplified, and made more accessible by digital transformation.
Acquisition activities can be part of the customer journey or may exist separately as marketing efforts; either way, they are an integral part of digital CX.
That’s because customers expect to feel like a telco company is “offering solutions,” not “offering products.” This is achieved by presenting personalized offers, utilizing the customer’s preferred digital channel, offering relevant information, and generally prioritizing the customer’s specific needs — all tasks that can be done much more effectively with digital CX.
Key Takeaway: To increase customer engagement and lay the groundwork for future loyalty, acquisition activities should focus on customer centricity and leverage each digital touchpoint to better connect with customer needs.
When a user is finally ready to become a customer, they enter a new phase of the customer experience — one that relies heavily on simplicity and efficiency. Because the deal isn’t yet closed, a user could still encounter too many frustrations and decide to go with a competitor’s service instead. It’s crucial to focus on keeping users engaged throughout a transaction.
Although some users will need customer service from human representatives, others might make transactions completely independently. That means platforms and other sales software must be capable of guiding anyone through the purchase process. Telco organizations in particular should ensure that details such as contract terms, product specifications, or service offerings are made clear at every step of the process.
Furthermore, digital CX must be trustworthy — that is, customers should feel confident disclosing important information to a telco company based on its platform or sales portal. This doesn’t just apply to credit card numbers and other sensitive customer data; it also extends to the future of the telco relationship, during which the provider will be responsible for securely handling voice, text, and other vital data packets.
Key Takeaway: The digital transaction process should be as smooth as possible to propel users in the right direction and create the potential for long-term customer relationships.
Unlike other companies, telco organizations often maintain service relationships with customers. As such, support in all its forms quickly becomes a vital part of all digital customer experiences. This can be as simple as providing customer service contact information after a successful transaction or as comprehensive as establishing regular calls to discuss a customer’s evolving needs.
However, not all support requires human representatives. It’s equally important to provide self-service solutions that customers can browse and utilize at their convenience. Internally, this saves time, increases agent efficiency, and presents new revenue opportunities. Externally, self-service increases customer satisfaction and addresses common telco pain points.
Key Takeaway: Support is an ongoing need in the telco industry, which means digital CX should be designed and optimized to create relationships instead of one-off answers.
How Telco Companies Can Create a Seamless Digital Experience
It’s one thing to understand digital customer experiences and the value they bring to a business; it’s another thing to implement the digital transformation solutions necessary to make this happen.
Fortunately, most telco companies already have an element of digital CX in play — they just need to identify these starting points and take the right steps forward:
1. Study Current CX
Even a company that doesn’t invest anything in CX technically has a customer experience. That means few organizations are truly starting from scratch. This can be beneficial or detrimental depending on the quality of current CX solutions, a company’s existing reputation, and the work needed to improve results.
Regardless of where a telco organization’s customer experience currently stands, it’s important to have a realistic view of the landscape and how this impacts improvements or other digital transformation efforts.
2. Understand Customer Expectations and Needs
Telco customers have unique needs and demands. A CX template likely wouldn’t suit their needs; instead, these customers deserve experiences catered to them and their interactions with a given company. As such, it’s important to do all necessary research and fully understand personas, pain points, favored digital channels, and more.
3. Use Analytics Tools Consistently
Analytics should be performed before, during, and after every digital CX change — even a small one. This helps track results and create insights into what’s working and what needs improvement. Ideally, analytics tools should be built into the online environment — for example, via a digital experience platform.
What is a Digital Experience Platform?
According to Gartner, a digital experience platform is “an integrated set of core technologies that support the composition, management, delivery, and optimization of contextualized digital experiences.” Also called DXPs, these platforms can take many shapes, including:
- Customer portals
- Commerce platforms
- Partner or supplier portals
- Company intranets
- Corporate websites
- Integration platforms
For telco companies looking to improve the digital and overall customer experience, a DXP has plenty to offer. Here’s what telco organizations should look for in their digital experience platforms:
Personalizing and Contextualizing Each Experience
Some CX tools leave customer service representatives to capture data and create a personalized experience on their own. Others attempt to automate this process, but only gather information from certain types of interactions.
A DXP personalizes and contextualizes every customer experience without demanding time, effort, and resources from representatives. The system automates data capture and presents users with relevant offerings, settings, features, and information based on individual needs.
Saving Time and Resources With Self-Service Tools
A DXP houses all telco self-service options, from knowledge libraries and blog posts to 3-D product models and artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots. These solutions enable anytime, anywhere service and responses — all without forcing customers to make a phone call or send an email.
Improving Convenience With 24/7 Availability
Customers in different time zones and with varying needs may not be available during traditional 9 - 5 working hours. Fortunately, DXPs provide solutions and support for all with 24/7 availability, whether by quickly and conveniently connecting customers to an agent or prompting self-service solutions.
Providing Omnichannel Support
Very few telco customers use a single digital channel for communication; instead, they jump between texts, instant messages, video chats, social media, and more. A DXP offers access to all these channels, helping facilitate communication between customers and telco companies. Additionally, the system gathers data to ensure a seamless omnichannel experience that proves consistency and develops loyalty.
Integrating With Legacy Systems
Many telco organizations have legacy technologies that would be far too expensive to replace or upgrade. DXPs integrate with these systems and essentially “sit on top of” existing solutions, unifying even the most disparate features into a single digital workspace for service representatives (and a great customer experience).
Enhancing Digital Security
Telco companies handle important data at every level of the customer journey. A good DXP has digital security solutions built into its structure and code, enabling protected or privileged access depending on stakeholder needs. This doesn’t, however, keep agents and sales representatives from viewing the information necessary to personalize an interaction or maintain consistency across touchpoints.
Creating Deep Insights
DXPs help telco companies learn more about their customers — both prospective and current — by gathering usage data, personal information, and more in accordance with relevant privacy laws. This makes it possible to more accurately forecast sales, provide personalized services, improve the digital experience, and study internal analytics.
Mastering Digital CX With Liferay
To succeed in an increasingly competitive landscape where customer expectations move about as quickly as technology itself, telco companies need to act fast. A poor customer experience could impact engagement, loyalty, overall sales, and more.
Fortunately, mastering digital CX doesn’t have to be a challenge. Liferay DXP provides all the capabilities your organization needs to digitize interactions and deliver exactly what customers want every time. With built-in analytics, enhanced security features, and plenty of options for customization, Liferay is the future of customer engagement.
To learn more about the digital customer journey and how to improve it, download our free whitepaper "Engage Existing Customers: Four Key Strategies".
And to find out how you can make your customers and service teams more efficient, check out our free e-book "5 Ways a Customer Portal Can Help Your Teams and Customers Be More Efficient".