Looking ahead: Delivering on the millennial mobile experience

The digital landscape  

The digital economy has introduced a whole new caliber of connectivity to consumers’ daily lives – which has also introduced a new caliber of sophistication to today’s consumer demands. For the telecommunications industry, the urgency to meet – and exceed – millennial customer experience expectations have become a mission-critical initiative. This generation lives on their mobile devices – with more than three-quarters (71 percent) in the United States, and 43 percent of millennials around the globe owning a smartphone. Younger millennials are taking responsibility for paying bills, represent the future customer and revenue base for mobile service providers – and have a significant influence over the evolution of mobile offerings.  

Taking this into account, CSG International recently commissioned a survey of approximately 1,000 millennials around the globe to uncover their perspectives and desires when it comes to the future of mobile. The survey revealed that millennials have clear priorities for their mobile service in the coming years – from further adoption of artificial intelligence (AI), to an increased focus on personalization – even at the expense of data privacy – as well as a high quality and intuitive experience when it comes to entertainment viewing. 

Millennials want AI to take action within their digital ecosystems  

The desire to see mobile services make everyday transactions faster and easier rose to the top of the priority list for millennials – with an emphasis on the appetite for a mobile service to take action on the consumer’s behalf by leveraging AI capabilities.  

Millennials want to see their mobile provider as not only integrated into their daily activities – but also powered by a smart artificial intelligence platform that can anticipate their needs – and then take action on their behalf. The survey uncovered that half of millennials (49 percent) want their mobile phone to serve as a more intuitive personal assistant. Furthermore, a majority (53 percent) of respondents noted that they would be willing to spend more on a mobile service that can act as a personal assistant. To enable this, mobile operators are integrating myriad AI apps – and adding more contextual processing to expand their power beyond single phrase conversations.   

In the digital era, AI and natural language processing (NLP) technologies have gained significant popularity; in fact, to-date, there are 28.4 billion (and growing) IoT and AI connected devices around the globe. The emergence of applications like Apple’s Siri, Google Now, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana and Samsung’s Bixby has developed a new consumer demand for devices to make their everyday lives more convenient. For example, an AI-powered service can search for the best deal on basketball tickets, order them using the consumer’s preferred payment method, place the game and the needed departure time on the calendar and remind the consumer when it’s time to leave using the best route based on current traffic conditions. Although impressive, this scenario – and corresponding service – only scratch the surface of AI capabilities, and is becoming the consumer “norm” today. So, how can mobile providers go beyond delivering a standard offering – and exceed the consumer expectations of tomorrow? 

Tapping into the data gold mine  

In today and tomorrow’s era of connectivity – mobile providers and operators need to think out-of-the-box when looking to attract the digitally savvy subscriber. They are tasked with the challenge of delivering a high-quality, tailored service experience – with offerings that cater to the way customers individually use their mobile services every day. Although daunting, these customer demands can be achieved – and even surpassed – by leveraging customer data. According to survey results, millennial consumers are more than willing to allow their providers to unlock the power of data. 

Although data privacy concerns have raised flags for some consumers, the survey found that millennials at large are more willing to provide information about themselves – if it means enabling carriers to deliver the enhanced service offerings they want. In fact, 59 percent of millennials are likely to spend more money for a service specifically customized to their usage patterns across voice, data, entertainment and other personalized services. And, 76 percent of millennials would be likely to let providers use their data to make entertainment recommendations based on their previous viewing habits.   

Entertainment on-the-go should be personal and easy  

From an entertainment perspective, consumers already have access to a myriad of content choices from streaming video, to premium and live content – and 83 percent of millennials are planning to use their smartphones to watch online video, including YouTube and OTT services for TV series and movies. The next-generation of mobile service will require service providers to consider how they can curate content from multiple sources to make the viewing experience easy and seamless for subscribers.    

One approach that will continue to grow, is centralized access to all entertainment sources in one place.  There’s so much content available online today that consumers have accounts scattered across multiple sources (Netflix, cable operator, mobile provider, Xbox, iPhone).  Eventually, all of those logins and profiles will become arduous for the average consumer to manage, and many will seek a one-stop-shop or central hub where they can login and access all of their services all in one place – from TV, to streaming, to mobile services.  Operators are looking to become that “central hub” to transform their brand experience into one that offers an ecosystem of services for the consumer.     

To be successful with the central hub approach, operators will need to take an app store mentality to their platform.  The central hub includes not only the operator’s content, but seamless access to new partner services and content as well.  This model can be found in the iOS or Android app stores today, where access is managed by the OS provider. If Apple only offered its own apps in its store, then it would be a less valuable experience than offering the ecosystem of options available in the app store.  Of course, personalization is important in this model, with recommendations for what to watch next based on previous choices at the top of the list.  

Conclusion 

Mobile operators are at the forefront of the telecom industry’s digital transformation – and its corresponding customer expectations.  To gain and maintain a competitive advantage in the digital landscape, mobile providers must connect consumers to each other and to the services they care about. To achieve this, they must align their business processes and infrastructures to leverage data to provide a centralized, easy and personalized experience today and tomorrow.  This starts with having the data about how consumers leverage their services, and then enhancing that with new AI capabilities that are truly tailored to each end-user.   

Chad Dunavant, VP of Product Management, CSG International 

Image Credit: DisobeyArt / Shutterstock