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COVID-19: Navigating the impact to your business. See our top strategies

How Connectivity Providers Can Fast Track Digital Customer Experiences

Spurred by COVID-19, consumers are increasingly adopting digital interactions with connectivity providers, a trend that will likely become permanent.

Three shifts we are seeing:

  • Consumers are shifting toward more digital interactions, furthering pre-pandemic trends.
  • Providers should accelerate digital investments to best serve customers.
  • Improving sales and service experiences with enhanced digital engagement can create significant new value for companies and their consumers.

Telecommunications, internet and cable providers have never faced a test quite like COVID-19. The demand on sales and support has poured not only into traditional channels such as call centers but also into brand websites, apps and chat. This has tested the digital preparedness of providers and presents an opportunity to shape the new normal for their customer interactions.

As billions of people around the world stay home, the pandemic has heightened consumer demand for the digital networks and services which enable working from home, communication and entertainment.

The increase in connectivity demand has also triggered customers to ask service providers for assistance. Charter Communications, one of the United States’ largest telecommunication companies, has seen its call-center volume double, truck rolls for repairs have risen to 30,000 per day and calls for new service have risen to about 50,000 per day. More customer interactions are happening while service representatives at many companies are shifting where they work: by late March, Cox Communications estimated 92 percent of call center employees were working remotely.

Solution

Digital Transformation Index

DTI helps businesses identify areas of relative strength and opportunities for development on their digital transformation journey.

It helps create a vision and roadmap for finding untapped potential and unlocking digital transformation opportunities.

 

Competing in the Era of the New Normal: Channel Shift Challenge and Opportunity

Providers will face a paradox in their challenges. On one hand, many customers expect the best digital experience technology can provide while other, less-savvy customers may be overwhelmed by the current offerings. Companies have a great opportunity to build lasting customer loyalty by helping these customers adapt.

Smart use of customer data will be pivotal. Each point of engagement is an opportunity to capture or confirm digital contact information to authenticate customers across digital touchpoints. Helping customers see the value of sharing their mobile numbers and email addresses, and then connecting that across customer product purchase, usage and telemetry data can drive breakthrough personalization across customer experiences. This is best done when brands ask customers a question about their preferences rather than asking for a social security number or other personal information, as the customer is more likely to understand the value exchange and why offering information about themselves will improve the experience.

As more consumers interact online, AI and machine learning can give providers personalized recommendations for both the best action to take and best offers for services to purchase. Using data as a means to predict issues or quickly intervene and recover when an experience falls down has become mission critical.

Jason Goldberg, chief commerce strategy officer for Publicis Communications, recently wrote in Forbes, “Consumers will have adopted short-term behaviors during the pandemic that in many cases will become permanent.”

New modes of interaction create significant opportunities for new value. Goldberg points out that the 2003 SARS epidemic changed the retail landscape in Asia. “Prior to SARS, Alibaba was primarily a B2B e-commerce site doing approximately $10 million a year in sales, while Jing Dong Trading was a small chain of electronics stores primarily selling through physical markets,” he said. “Within a few short years, Alibaba and JD.com grew to become two of the largest e-commerce firms in the world.”

Companies who take leadership at key points of inflection in consumer behavior can create outsized value for both consumers and also capture outsized returns.

Questions Leaders at Connectivity Providers Can Ask Themselves:

Sales

  • Do your digital channels enable end-to-end transaction channels for all your customers and products?
  • Do you have a systematic way of determining which transactions should be completed with human assistance? 

Onboarding

  • How are you training customers to use digital touchpoints from the beginning of the relationship? 
  • Are you enabling customers to set up their services from home, including self-installation and onboarding?  
  • Are two-way device shipping options easily available?  

Usage

  • Are you proactively reaching out to your customers to help them get the most out of your services?
  • Now that digital connectivity in the home is top of mind, are you positioning your company as a partner for building and managing a digitally enabled home?

 

Resolving Problems

  • Are you making your customers aware of ways they can solve issues on their own as well as how to get help if needed? 
  • Which service calls and truck rolls can be handled by digital channels such as your website, app-guided troubleshooting, or text and video chat?

Digital Laggards vs. Digital Differentiators

COVID-19 is likely to create more winners and losers in the industry. Companies that fail to serve customers well through digital channels will risk irrelevance as consumers cannot connect with them. Brands that have prioritized investment in digital experiences are likely to see increases in sales and loyalty as this broad trialing of digital leads to newly established customer behaviors.

According to Publicis Sapient’s proprietary Consumer Engagement study, T-Mobile scored the highest in digital touchpoint satisfaction among connectivity providers. By investing in digital while also maintaining a human touch, T-Mobile has captured the lion’s share of new customers in the mobile industry, seen significant increases in customer satisfaction, while also reducing service costs per customer. For example, after it redesigned the digital phone upgrade experience T-Mobile saw a two-fold increase in digital upgrades for flagship phones like the iPhone in the first year. In total, T-Mobile added more than 7 million net new subscribers in 2019.

T-Mobile has also demonstrated leadership in how it infuses human elements in digital through its Team of Experts customer service model which connects customers with a personal, cross-functional support squad. The Team of Experts is accessible through traditional support channels as well as chats that save conversation histories across mobile and web. In addition to enabling better customer experiences, this approach has reduced cost-to-serve by 26 percent since 2016.

This fundamental shift to more digital interactions will likely continue even after we are able to visit stores and move more freely in the world again. Now is the time to accelerate digital technology deployment to scale improvements in customer experiences. Prioritizing digital engagement can create significant value for customers and business now while creating a new paradigm for interacting in the future. 

Joe Weingartner
Joe Weingartner
Strategy and Consulting