Today, it is vital for mobile operators to avoid being relegated to “dumb pipe” status by exploring options for digital innovation. Capgemini Consulting’s latest research found that, similar to many industries, digital holds the key to unlocking customer satisfaction for customers of mobile operators and outlines the building blocks for what it means to become a Digital Telco.

The study also notes this “requires a fundamental rethink of how mobile operators engage with their customers.” Mobile operators must redefine their value proposition in order to secure sustainable growth. However, radically redesigning the customer experience, an imperative in most industries today, for mobile operators is a particularly daunting challenge.

58% of customers surveyed in our study are willing to switch to a digital-only network provider (no brick and mortar stores, all interactions and transaction completed through digital channels), with the highest value customers being even more interested in making the switch.

The reality is that most mobile operators’ brands are not top of mind for customers as compared to OTT players and other technology brands (think: Google, Amazon, etc.). These technology brands tend to pop up first in the customer’s mind due to their seamless integration into our lives and delivery on customer experience. They have learned how to utilize digital channels to better serve customers (which, from our research, is a growing preference). They also continue to create compelling products and services based upon first-hand customer knowledge and data.

Mobile operators have a lot of work ahead of them to begin to capture the hearts and minds of consumers in the same way. 

Tough questions to consider

As such, mobile operators have some truly tough questions to consider including:

  1. How well do we know our customers and what insights are we drawing from those interactions?
  2. What customer experience/journey are we designing based upon those insights?
  3. How can we leverage those insights to be proactive throughout the entire customer lifecycle, driving key metrics like customer acquisition or reducing churn?
  4. How are we using those insights to innovate our business model or branch into new areas of growth?
  5. How is our organization positioned to improve, explore, and deliver against customer expectations?

But what initial steps should mobile operators take to become more digital centric? Here are key approaches to consider:

Deeply understand your customer

Mobile operators have to become as passionate about customer experience as their digital peers. This is not simply about advertising and branding (customers see right through this). It’s about taking the following approach:

  • Aligning the organization to a common understanding of their customers
  • Designing an end-to-end digital experience around the customer’s needs/wants/desires
  • Consistently measuring and improving upon that customer experience

To provide a seamless, end-to-end customer experience, a tried and true customer experience practice involves persona and customer journey development. The art behind this involves human-centric design combined with research and observation. This helps to drive empathy for customers and a better understanding of what the pain points and opportunities are for improvement and/or innovation throughout the customer lifecycle. 

Learn/adapt based upon customer insights

Mobile operators have to capture, codify and disseminate customer insights from research and persona/journey development. These findings will likely have a great impact on business & IT roadmaps (if not cause them to be re-written altogether). For example, companies may learn that their organization is focused on improving up front customer experience and driving better acquisition, but that they need to match that experience throughout the customer lifecycle by improving service and support channels well.

Used in combination with customer analytics capabilities, mobile operators can analyze and optimize touchpoints in order to continually adapt to shifts in customer expectations. This is one really important way to begin to advance quickly down the journey to become a Digital Telco.

Build a digital DNA

If a company has the tools and processes to embark on this journey, without having embedded digital in their DNA, they are likely to stall or fail altogether. One of the most important steps for mobile operators striving to become a Digital Telco model is a focus on building a digital culture and having innovative thinkers at the executive level who really get the vision.

Tools and processes are ineffective without the enablement to empower and deliver. Digital Telco must enable a digital culture and operations that will allow for the flexibility to innovate and adapt to changes in the customer and competitive landscape. Digital innovation is not a one-time initiative, but a persistent imperative, since the digital landscape continues to shift.

Mobile operators have an opportunity to spin their customer data into liquid gold by better meeting customer expectations and developing new products and services. Often-cited roadblocks such as fragmented data and systems, lack of analytics capabilities, and a conflicting views of the customer must be tackled.

These are all large and complicated steps that will take time. So in the short-term, mobile operators must begin with smaller wins that not only inspire, but demonstrate the future vision of a digital telco organization. Potential short-term wins might include analysis of the customer journey for digital opportunities associated with one specific touchpoint or development of customer analytics use cases to improve the overall experience for an underserved market.

These short-term wins, supported by a leader with a transformative vision for the organization, can provide a jumpstart toward becoming a Digital Telco.