Use insight to make the user experience better
The customer is king. How many times have we heard that over the years? And yet it’s more true now than ever, writes Francesco Venturini, the global industry senior managing director for communications and media at Accenture. With seemingly limitless choice at their fingertips, customers want more and if you don’t give it to them, they’ll move on to someone that will.
One of the more intriguing conversations at MWC this year will be around how communications service providers (CSPs) can win the hearts and minds of customers. In short, the answers lie in trust and engagement, not simply sales. And how can products, services and new business strategies be used to build those stronger relationships.
Whatever long-term growth strategies a CSP chooses, they should be aim to become part of an individual’s daily routine. That means being more personalised and relevant than ever, as well as constantly evolving – across both digital and physical – to be omnipresent but not intrusive.
The tech part of the answer
Technology can enable a lot of new initiatives. However, legacy architecture, outdated operating models driven by stability over innovation and, often most crucially, a risk-averse culture within the business all make change challenging.
But a truly omni-channel approach can be a game changer, despite the complexity of building it. It makes applying intelligence across interactions more achievable. It allows relationships to become more conversational.
On top of that, artificial intelligence is becoming a mature technology, helping organisations focus on revenue growth, better targeting and dynamic pricing to build better margins and higher average revenue per user (ARPU). Those who focus only on cost take-out will stay stuck in the same old cycle.
It’s a tough landscape to navigate, so here are some principles for prioritising investments:
- Architectural investment creates differentiation when it focuses on speed over stability, ability to measure, test and learn, openness towards third parties
- Industrialized digital decoupling – moving away from tech that’s not helping your business – should power user experience, journey optimisation, and engagement
- Data and AI powered decisioning, which also requires a feedback loop to test, learn, and refine the approach for both automatic and manual consumer touchpoints
- Native cloud capabilities can boost speed of innovation and cut non-essential or non-competitive architectural services. Reducing the cost of innovation and increasing efficiency should be weighed against the impact to OpEx.
- Micro-services and DevOps speed up the build, deployment and testing of new services. A smart, policy-defined API framework helps bring in third party services
These kinds of changes are aimed at more than just efficiency gains, in the traditional cost reduction sense. By putting data at the heart of every aspect of development and deployment, new ways of working will emerge that allow more innovation, at lower cost.
The product part of the answer
A new way of thinking should also come into product development. Creating “high engagement products”, even if they’re not margin accreditive can serve a bigger, long-term role in building loyalty and trust in your data stewardship. “High engagement products” are a doorway to capturing valuable contextual data about consumers – on their interests and behaviours – in a trusted, reciprocal way.
The monetisation of this data comes in several forms, assuming that it’s collected with the appropriate permissions and ethically used. In the short-term it can help improve core business processes and boost internal metrics. In the longer term, it can open new lines of business to support the digital services ecosystem – based on an understanding of what people want.
The great news is that these outcomes are non-intrusive and that’s helpful in you becoming part of an individual’s daily or weekly routines.
This new type of relationship can boost both Client Lifetime Value and Net Promoter Score. It’s an area where comms companies trail many other industries, but something that they need to change if they’re serious about growing their B2C businesses.
How to build it
A Digital Factory is the best way to instigate this new mindset. It’s a way that companies with large legacy infrastructures can start to focus more on customer engagement without changing the whole organisational model.
When the Digital Factory has its own decoupling layer, it can be self-sufficient and focus on journey conversion and engagement. Accountability is thus concentrated and product managers for a particular digital experience can be responsible for both the business results and the technology spend required to achieve it.
This product-management approach can prompt a rethink the structure of the ecosystem of digital service and OTT providers. The future is more than just bundling products, which have relinquished the consumer relationship in favour of reducing the cost of development.
This will appear counterintuitive to CSPs who view products as purely a customer acquisition strategy, or a way to sustain revenue generating units (RGUs). But put it in a different light and it makes more sense. The product is the most engaging channel for the customer. It’s via the product that they are most open to exchanging data for value.
Seen in this way, you can open up new possibilities for sales, marketing, and service channels to become more effective. The feedback loop injects fresh insight into new products and services, triggering a repeatable cycle that will close the gap to digital natives who have significantly higher NPS.
A digital factory that moves fast, is native in the cloud and has data at its core will find ways to improve the customer’s experience.
In summary: use your data to create intelligence across your omni-channel platform. Build into your DNA a desire to make the customer experience the best it can be. Give the ok to high engagement products as a strategic capability, even if they don’t drive short-term growth. Sustained B2C growth is a long-term game. It will require a change in mindset, but CSPs can capture new growth and win the battle for consumer loyalty in an ever-disrupted OTT marketplace.