How can telco companies survive in a competitive market?

Source: https://www.strategyand.pwc.com/media/image/Exhibit01_2017-Telecommunications-Industry-Trends.jpg

Even if telecom companies own a large flood of data running through their networks, many of them don’t succeed in their efforts to monetize it and their services become more commoditized. Due to the fact that they have tried to be all things to all people, delivering a variety of services to their customers, they have not managed to excel at any of those services. Now, they are vulnerable to competition.

And their competition comes from an unexpected place as Overt-the top (OTT) players, such as WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, Facebook or Apple’s iMessage, which offer apps and streaming content directly to customers through the Internet. As a result many telecom carriers are facing significant decreases in their basic communications service revenues.

How can telco companies survive in such a competitive market?

Telco operators responded to the challenge by offering bundles or other products or services. But they didn’t interact with customers at the same speed or with individualised one-to-one marketing.

Instead, they pushed high volumes of products and services through physical shops with exclusive products mixes. To increase revenue, telco operators should rethink their entire strategy. A digital transformation is no longer an option. 
We all know the theory that stays that the customer is king/queen, but not always businesses act as they care about each of their customers.

Satisfied customers are generating more revenue.

„51% of customers say they will become more loyal to telecoms companies when they have good experiences.”

From my perspective, digital transformation has only intensified the challenges, as today’s customers expect brands to engage with them across channels with relevant and contextual messages.

The only way for operators to transform their commercial footprint is to understand their customers and engage with them intelligently, nudging them towards purchase instead of distracting them, on short, to build contextual customer experiences.

To make it possible telco marketers must be able to understand the real-time intent of individual customers to dynamically deliver contextually relevant experiences across channels, devices, and throughout the entire customer journey.

So, where telco operators should you start from?

Even if next I am going to talk about telco operators, the examples are valid also for other industries as pharma, transportation, finance, energy, retail and whatever you think about. These are common sense rules that can be customised in each industry.

1. Focus on the customer experience

The quality of customers’ experience should be a company’s first concern. It’s difficult and almost impossible to market a product or a service that doesn’t put the customer first, starting from service features, ease of use, reliability or even the quality of customer care.

- By delivering brilliant basics to all customers

In this stage, operators should focus on becoming brilliant at the basics and reducing the customer effort, avoid frustrating them. In simple words, to concentrate on ensuring that from the technical point of view everything works perfectly, to eliminate hassles and pain points that may occur. 
Take care of simplicity & usability, accessibility and proactivity.

- By creating positive emotions for your customers

Beside your brilliant basics, offer your users an actually perceived value higher than the expected perceived value. Address emotional needs by creating advantages that encourage your users to use your network, eCare, services, shops or online platform.

For example, you can offer incentives when updating their accounts, or bonuses when recommending your services, contests or to create video content that can help your users on how to use their phones or apps. Or you can offer points for each time your customer uses your eCare and then, points can be converted in credits for calls, new purchase, donation etc.

In this way, you can rely on your community users to promote your products. There are so many valuable ideas on how to „wow” their experience that can be implemented succesfully if you get to know better your audience.

So, I invite you to read the next point on knowing your audience.

— By offering personalized omnichannel experience

Create customised offers or services for your customers based on their needs, or the service plan they have. You can give them the power to choose whatever fits best for them by creating a win-win situation for customers and also for you, as an operator.

Similar to what SaaS providers like Amazon or Google that allow customers to change features in real time, without fixed-term contracts or other hidden costs you can offer your customer flexibility to customise their plans according to the needs and no-strings-attached offers. For example, you can allow the user to deselect the free 24/7 hotline in return for a reduced monthly bill.

Another idea is that based on the user profile you can implement „proactive content recommendations” such as „how to” videos, product/service feedback development invitations.

2. Know your audience — One size doesn’t fit all

I know it sounds obvious, but getting the content wrong can undermine all of your effort to engage with that user. Gain insights into the enriched customer view and leverage advanced analytics to discover hidden trends and opportunities.

Use smart tools that allow you to gain more in-depth customer insights into not only history but in-the-moment intentions and motivation. 
If you know your audience and your ideal Buyer Persona you can use keywords, user experience, landing pages, search engine optimisation, PPC campaigns and so many other tools to attract, engage and convert your target audience.

Also, by knowing your users well you can speak their language and not just enumerate technical advantages for your offer. Just imagine how user-friendly would be to say „unlimited online access 24/7 for only 15$” instead of „4GB/LTE connection up to 100Mbit/s for 15$/ month”. Even if tech info make sense for the telco operator, for the end user is just tech jargon.

3. Understand your customer journey

You need to understand what motivates your customers — what are their needs, their hesitations and concerns. Is not enough anymore to know who you are talking with. The key is to be able to align what they want to accomplish when they reach your website or landing page. Now, there are so many tools that are mapping your visitors paths from their first interaction to the last one and letting you know if they have achieved their goals.

Telco customers what to be treated with respect through a one-to-one relationship model that addresses their needs. 
Subscriber information should be managed consistently across channels so that customers can access the same information and receive the same treatment across all sales (online, physical shop) and customer care touch points.

This is the reason why telco companies should collect info about their subscriber, Omni-channel, and to listen and then adapt to satisfy their individual evolving demands.

4. Know your Strengths & Weakness and address them

What is performing well within your company or even better than expected? You can choose to do a focus group, several A/B testings for your pages/services or to invite your visitors to complete a survey.

Be proactive! Don’t wait until your customers complain.

If you want to create wow experiences for them, then you must be one step ahead and check periodically your pages, services, products and to be anchored in your customer’s reality.

5. Create relevant content & offerings for each stage of their journey

In simple word, customer-centricity means that operators must treat consumers through a one-to-one relationship model that address their needs
You don’t have to make customisation for your 24+ mil. Of customers form your database, instead you can use customised content actioned by trigger events. Smart data can help you.

One tool that I had the chance to work on is SAP Hybris Marketing Cloud, which helped us to deliver individualised one-to-one marketing for the mass audience. In other words, to gain more in-depth customer insights, in-the-moment intentions and motivation.

By delivering contextually relevant experiences to your customers and reconnect with people that visited your website through retargeting your audiences based on their online behaviour you will increase your conversion rate, drive customer advocacy and growth.