Skip to Content

What Telcos can learn from consumer experiences

8 May 2023

A point of view on what telcos can learn from consumer experiences and how to operationalize design as a strategic differentiator

Customer expectations are being set by consumer-grade experiences by the likes of AirBnB, Uber, and Doordash.  Likewise, telco business customers bring these expectations to their work and is compounded by Hyperscalers investing in frictionless experiences. These software-based, service-driven companies have built their very existence around customer experience.

Telcos are not alone in the struggle to operationalize the design of customer experience in part because “design” is not well understood amongst C-suite stakeholders. Design is frequently simplified as making a digital UI more elegant often coming late in the go-to-market journey, rather than putting the core needs of the customers front and center in the strategic planning process. To meet today’s customer expectations requires “design” as a strategic enabler throughout the customer relationship. From onboarding to support, to the products and services offered, every interaction across the digital and retail experience can and should be viewed through the lens of design.

There are high barriers for Telcos including ongoing infrastructure investments, technical debt, and high support costs. However, working with telcos across the world, we have seen few ways telco organizations can operationalize design and see greater impact to their business.

Considerations for Telco B2C and B2B Organizations

  1. Enable a strategic “design” function in the organization (design can be used to describe product and customer experience organizations)
    • Partner with stakeholders to establish a shared and unified definition of “design” across the organization that minimizes ambiguity and articulates how it drives business outcomes.
    • Build believers in your executive stakeholders by bringing them into the process. A former Verizon design executive brought their CFO close to a program which humanized net add and ARPU metrics, and enhanced collaboration in budget planning.Close the gap between corporate and creative culture by establishing experience principles. In this podcast, Verizon discusses how they established these standards across the organization.
    • Develop a DesignOps capability internally and/or in partnership with external partners to extend the reach of your team and maximize the impact. Listen to this episode of frog’s Design Mind frogcast to hear how AT&T has delivered DesignOps at Scale.
  2. Integrate “design” into business strategy and product planning (i.e., design tools, methods, and frameworks). Report: How to Drive ROI in CX and Design
    • Leverage the wealth of institutional knowledge combined with bespoke market and customer research (qualitative and quantitative) to identify how to play and how to win.
    • Partner with the business with a customer-first mindset and methodology in CapEX planning and ongoing product development efforts.
    • Demystify the impact of design by modeling outcomes in business KPIs (Customer Acquisition, ARPU, retention, NPS, etc.) tied to program to secure funding and share success stories.
    • Place as much value on getting the product right (problem-solution fit) as with getting it to market quickly. Report: Sprinting Towards a Failed Product.
  3. Use Service Design in your organization to break down siloes and simplify the complex to realize better customer experience.
    • Align the purpose of the work to a clear and measurable problem. Is your telco business needing to diversify services so as not to be relegated to the connectivity pipe, or more acutely suffering low engagement or cost to deliver existing product and services?
    • Become intimate with the underlying constraints and opportunities in technology, process, people, and policy to bring together relevant stakeholders to deliver a competitive customer experience.
    • Prototype early and often to test with customers and socialize the results with key executives to secure commitment for next steps.
    • Consider hiring a leader with a Service Design degree or partnering with a reputable firm with service design capabilities. Report: Demystifying Service Design in the US.
  4. Position your design system as a unifying force across your organization, bridging upstream and downstream product teams. Report: How to Systematize a Design System for Success
    • Develop and govern Design Systems across various customer touchpoints including digital, physical product, packaging and self-install, and retail. Stc’s investment in a DLS for digital self-service experience improved brand reputation and service cost metrics.
    • Manage the Design System like a product (for building products) and ensure it represents the culture and brand it supports; consistency across customer touchpoints builds trust that you care about their experience.
    • Create design-to-code toolchains (Design Tokens) to enable consistency and product teams to focus their valuable time on growing and evolving the Design System.
    • Seek a business sponsor in each of the areas where a Design System can lower costs, increase speed and strengthen your brand across products and services.

TelcoInsights is a series of posts about the latest trends and opportunities in the telecommunications industry – powered by a community of global industry experts and thought leaders.


Courtney Brown

VP, Business Development
Courtney is a VP of Business Development based in Austin, Texas. She works with frog’s interdisciplinary teams in North America to help early stage startups and Fortune 500 clients grow their business by reinventing the way customers experience their brand, product, and service