While consumer telecoms services tend to be fairly resilient during economic downturns, operators dealing with today’s public health emergency face a new and unforeseen challenge: mandatory store closings. With so many operators reliant on physical locations to complete the majority of transactions, many are now faced with the issue of managing this period of extreme disruption without the full benefit of their main sales channel.
This environment has amplified the need for telcos to accelerate their digital agenda and prioritise those initiatives that will improve long-term continuity and resiliency. As evidenced by COVID-19, organisations able to serve the customer remotely in a touchless way are better positioned to manage landscape volatility and even create a competitive advantage.
Setting up a greenfield digital operator, offering consumers a full-remote experience
One example of a company harnessing the power of digital is Orange Flex Poland. Recently showcased in Capgemini’s Digital Operator Observatory, this company created fully digital customer journeys. It provides “anytime, anywhere” subscription ordering and activation through a virtual SIM and mobile app. Created initially as a way to appeal to digital natives, COVID-19 has highlighted the strength and value of the digital pure play, offering the business a steady source of revenue and a convenient experience for the customer.
Accelerating the digital transformation of incumbents
For legacy telcos, accelerating the digital transformation agenda to support a wide range of offerings in a mixed model of physical and online journeys will be a priority. But the value of this transition is clear – and in many cases a requirement for doing business in the digital age. An increased emphasis on digital investments will both reduce the dependency over high-touch channels and help the organisation serve the growing number of customers who prefer digital solutions.
To that end, operators will first need to ensure that the digital experience offered for current products and services is seamless and effortless for consumers. This will require operators to pay more attention to customer feedback, scan where consumers exit current journeys and address identified pain points within the journey.
In addition, while many telcos offer the ability to complete relatively simple tasks online, such as upgrading plans or activating mobile service, not all support complex issues such as fiber migration or convergence through digital channels. These tasks usually require customers to make a trip to a point of sale or spend time with customer service agents over the phone, which is either unpractical currently or unappealing for many digital natives.
With many countries only now beginning to ease social distancing restrictions and allowing businesses to reopen in limited capacity, telcos that depend on in-store transactions will continue to struggle to meet existing goals and milestones. To prepare for the future, companies must reprioritise their IT investments and accelerate their digital agenda to accommodate complex journeys and enhance the customer experience through digital.
Improving interactivity in digital commerce
Until very recently, sales and services offered through digital storefronts were largely automated. Relatively simple tasks, such as paying bills or adding new features, typically required little in the way of human interaction or manual intervention. However, as COVID-19 prompts businesses to begin to shift more services – and more complex services at that –online, there is an opportunity to humanise the digital store. Web store demos, video chats, and even virtual animated stores can help telcos add a level of interactivity to their digital footprint.
In China, we have seen growing instances of consumer brands forming partnerships with social media influencers to host promotional online events for consumers following stay-at-home orders. During these livestream sessions, the spokesperson will demo a product or service, ranging from beauty products to luxury goods to cars, showcasing the brand and its attributes. Promotions support on-the-spot sales as they would in a traditional in-store event. Another example is social commerce, which is when a brand organizes an online community on social channels such as WeChat, and then offers exclusive promotions and deals based on the group’s size, activity, or other attributes.
These trends, which have become increasingly common in China during the lockdown, offer valuable lessons to telcos as they begin to consider inventive ways to reach consumers and build the resiliency of their business.
Next steps: How telcos can embrace digital further
The past few months have challenged our society’s most basic assumptions about the way we live and work. In many cases, these events have also instilled a sense of urgency about how to best prepare for the future. While the message from world leaders, doctors, the business community, and the general public is that we will collectively beat COVID-19, organissations must accept that the world that emerges once we do will be markedly different from the one we once knew.
Telcos operating in this environment must begin to consider not just how to use digital channels to respond to this particular event, but how it can create a more resilient organisation for the future. Through our Digital Telco offerings, we help operators create and deliver innovative digital experiences, at speed and scale. For more information, please view our new offer, Inventive Telecoms, and reach out to Philippe Blanc, Vice-President, Telecom Media Technology at Capgemini Invent.
This blog is Part 1 of a two-part blog series. Read Part 2 here: Telco’s grand reopening
Vice President, Telecom Media Technology