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Customer-centric buying experiences are vital to CSP revenue growth

5G will soon be a reality in India as top communication service providers (CSPs) prepare to introduce it in 2021. With this, will CSPs achieve deeper customer relationships and financial success, or face further declines in revenue and market share from digital disruptors? The fight for supremacy in 5G automatically co-relates to the fight to acquire or protect high-end subscribers.

With the pandemic having accelerated the push to digital experiences, delivering a compelling customer experience will be a make-or-break proposition for CSPs. A recent research said that CSPs and digital disruptors have almost equal market share, so we want to make sure it’s trending in the right direction for CSPs. Providing compelling experiences is challenging, especially with the disconnect among underlying data and systems across marketing, sales, service, the back office and the network. Customers choose the engagement channel and the when, but often want to switch among them and expect a seamless experience as they do so. This randomness makes it challenging to provide the right customer experience across every touchpoint, from anonymous user/prospect to a known customer.

The buy stage is particularly important in the customers’ lifecycle, as it’s here that a delightful, frictionless experience can set the stage for continued future engagement and loyalty. As CSPs seek to transform the customer buying journey, they may encounter many issues:

  • Buying experiences that are inconsistent across channels, boring, impersonal;
  • Multiple incompatible catalogs driving everything from introducing new products and offers to making them available in existing and new channels;
  • Customers feel like CSPs don’t know them – they feel they are just an account number or an address; and
  • Dependence on IT at every step makes CSPs less agile and operationally inefficient – causing innovation cycles to be long, opening the door for disruptors to step in.

As these issues come to light, the key is to deliver exciting experiences that matter and being highly responsive to the digital consumer. Below are suggestions on how CSPs can succeed.

  • A unified sales catalog, central asset mastering and, a persistent shopping cart, all of which will l enable customers to drop off one channel and seamlessly continue their buying and ordering journey as they navigate across different channels. That will translate into a positive experience, with no money left on the table for others to grab.
  • There needs to be an ability to quickly introduce both unassisted and assisted channels for subscription purchases, and that should be based on variables like: eligibility, compatibility rules, account care, order care, and subscription care. This is important in our evolving digital-first world. For CSPs whose retail shops were shuttered during lockdowns, some of these changes will be permanent and can be for the better in the long run.
  • As customers go through changes in their buying journeys, agents must have a 360-degree view of customer data. A single order, asset and subscription data master should coexist and integrate with a customer master, giving agents insights that will drive next best offer and personalized recommendations at each step and at every touchpoint — unassisted or assisted.
  • CSPs need to be able to sell products and services as one-time purchases, or as subscriptions based on consumption, or as a combination of the two. It should be easy to make changes to subscription plans and activate them instantly, which requires integration among fulfillment, billing, invoicing, payments, and accounting processes. It also requires an integrated lead-to-quote-to-order and MACD (move, add, change, disconnect) capabilities, with intuitive interfaces for both customer self-service and employee use.
  • With progress in the buying-experience transformation, it’s important to avoid the frustration of vendor lock in. CSPs should seek solutions that embrace open standards and Open APIs, which will make it easier to rapidly deploy new services while maintaining interoperability with existing systems. Industry standard interfaces, APIs, and data models will help decouple systems of engagement from systems of record, lowering digital transformation risk and cost while maximizing the value of your existing IT investments.
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