|SOLUTIONS FOR THE TELCO INDUSTRY
by Geoff Thomas, General Manager, Asia, Communications Sector, Microsoft
The advent of the Internet, and later unified communications and cloud computing have all contributed to the growth in network usage. At the same time, prices for traditional bread and butter voice revenues are decreasing and driving the fall of global telcos’ ARPU. Adding flat revenues and increasing CAPEX, net investments into the mix, it seems like a grim world for telcos.
Focused on new consumer demands and moving fluidly into the delivery of new digital services, telcos have consolidated lines of business and acquiring new assets to provide seamless services across different screens. The result is a myriad of fixed, wireless or cable services that are new, that define customer experience and optimize costs. With each range, it adds new layers of complexity to the organisation as each new service demands telcos to rethink and adapt their core processes across their business on an ongoing basis. However, telcos can only move as fast as their infrastructure allows them to.
Hence, telcos also need to reassess their priority on improving business processes and adopt solutions that improve the end-customer experience, namely at each of the three primary points of interaction: retail, device web and call center. These also have to be supported by robust business support systems (BSS) and business intelligence deployed throughout several business functions. Let’s take a deeper look at how telcos can improve the solutions area to create value add to customers:
1. Retail: It is every telco’s aim to sell new services to new or existing customers. To do so, telcos need to empower their outlets to bring a high-touch customer experience with optimized retail management and cross-channel integration. For example, multi-touch interactive solutions, business intelligence solutions, etc. can give you insight on what products and services are recommended for a particular customer who walks to the counter at your store or logs into his account online. Having information upfront for your front line staff or at your self-care touch points will connect experiences for the customer and improve your up-sell and cross-sell effectiveness.
2. Web: Today, customers are more sophisticated. They have higher expectations for services to be delivered via a seamless experience across multiple screens. With most services now available online, telcos can capitalize on opportunities to provide visitors with a personalized view of their services through targeted advertising and search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns e.g. on the Microsoft Advertising Network. Telcos may also wish to monitor social networks to address customer satisfaction.
3. Call center: While retail and web have gained strategic focus in the last 5 years, the call center has remained the most common point of customer contact and a large cost center for telcos. In order to provide a better customer experience with a lower cost of doing business, IT systems need to be changed and extended quickly support seamless cross-enterprise collaboration and cost less to implement and maintain. This, at the end of the day, empowers front line agents and hence the organization to be agile and responsive, thereby strengthening relationships with customers.
4. BSS/Converged Billing: Customers in this day and age have perhaps too many choices: they can choose from a dizzying assortment of new services and applications from a broad range of vendors including niche mobile app companies and telcos alike. New services drive a new generation of billing requirements. A consolidated view of bill for agents and customers, despite multiple pricing models and various transactional and charging methods, will help telcos minimize disputes, optimize pricing and deliver the same experience across all channels.
5. Business Intelligence: Some industry pundits have argued that business intelligence needs more reason to justify the significant upfront investment that is earned out over a period of time and will hence fall down the list of CIO’s IT priorities. However, the benefits that business intelligence solutions bring are recognized by advocates and adversaries: business intelligence allows better real-time decision-making across various functions e.g. finance, marketing, customer case, sales, hence empowering enterprise performance and telcos, like any business, cannot compromise on that.