Today’s consumers have embraced the on-demand economy. With the advent of digital services, such as Netflix, Uber and Amazon, consumers are used to getting what they want, whenever they want it, at a price that suits them.
The Millennial generation in particular has been quick to adapt to this new model, sourcing and selecting content and services on their mobile devices, at home or on the move. As far as they’re concerned, this model of service delivery is the norm.
This new breed of consumers, born between 1980 and 2000, are technology savvy and have grown up in a world where the internet has defined the way they share information, buy products and communicate. As a result, the experience they expect from their mobile service provider is one that must embody their perception of the web – personalised, engaging and instantly gratifying.
Uber delivers over a million taxi rides a day and Amazon handles around 40 million transactions a day, but because communications service providers (CSPs) own the underlying networks, they deal with billions of customer interactions on a daily basis. New digital players gain the OTT benefit of not having to manage the transport network which they’re using to deliver the service. Meanwhile CSPs are not only managing the transport network, they are also burdened with legacy IT set-up which was designed for an era of monetising voice and SMS via prepaid or subscription, not on-demand digital services.
Transparency for users
Uber’s success is largely due to the real-time transparency it provides its users. When a consumer opens up the Uber app, they can immediately see how many cars are in the surrounding area and the wait time. The user can then select the type of car they require, get a fare estimate, find out the identity of their driver and watch the vehicle’s progress as it travels to meet them. If the driver is stuck in traffic en-route to pick up a fare, the customer will know about it.
In order to deliver this experience, Uber needs to know the location and the identity of the customer, the availability of their drivers, journey time, booking and payment information – even the vehicle licence plate. However, when mobile service providers look to their legacy technologies to deliver a digital experience similar to this, they risk a poor customer experience – at exactly the moment when they should be impressing their customers.
Gone are the days where consumers are content with text and minutes balance updates. Today, data roaming, shared data plans, on-demand purchases, along with faster 4G speeds are high on consumers’ wish lists. Every consumer interaction, no matter how big or small, requires instant and precise information about the consumer’s mobile account, so they can make an informed choice about which services they use and how much they spend – wherever and whenever they want it.
First impressions count, so it’s important for mobile service providers to begin to view the customer experience from the customer’s point of view, rather than letting their network capability dictate the experience. Digital brands such as Uber and Airbnb know that the very beginning of a customer relationship – the onboarding process – is an important moment at the beginning of the customer journey. That’s why they make it so easy to set-up a new account.
The same rules and procedures should apply to setting up a mobile phone account – pick and customise the services you want through a curated onboarding process, enter account and payment information, and then ‘pay now’ for whatever service the customer desires. In comparison to traditional onboarding, where customers are expected to spend a lot of time talking to a call centre or an assistant in a retail store, the digital experience is easier and more compelling because it creates a new service concept in the minds of the customer, and readies them for more interactive, instant experiences.
Empowering customers with the ability to buy the handset online, have it delivered the next day, turn it on and immediately start service through a self-care app puts the operator-customer relationship in a strong position from the get-go. Gone is the complexity of managing today’s prepaid and postpaid billing silos. Going forward, the consumer can buy new products and services from their service provider and start using them immediately. The ‘pay now’ model really is one which suits the Millennial’s expectations; one click and the purchase is made – similar to the retail model offered by Amazon, Apple and Google.
Telstra’s digital journey
So what are the benefits of offering a digital experience? Australian operator Telstra is a good example, having taken some big steps to become a digital communications service provider. In the last few months, Telstra has benefited from a 40 per cent reduction in call-centre complaints, saving millions of dollars in the process.
The company also reported a 23 point increase in its net promoter score (NPS) for customers with data disputes – showing that customers are more satisfied when they control their own mobile account using self-care direct from their device. In turn, these customers are more likely to recommend Telstra to their social group, driving an uptick in customers gained at a fraction of the price of normal customer acquisition costs – and generating goodwill in the process.
In terms of revenue, Telstra reported a five per cent increase in data ARPU. This increase shows that giving customers the ability to self-direct their mobile experience and control spending actually results in higher customer spending – pleasing shareholders and allowing Telstra some competitive advantages in a tight market.
Jennifer Kyriakakis, Founder & VP Marketing, MATRIXX Software
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Sdecoret