In the fast-paced world of Telco innovation, new developments are around every corner. With the growing impact of an economic downturn breathing down Communication Service Provider (CSP) necks, making smarter investment choices and boosting Customer Experience (CX) are critical to keeping costs low, proving the ROI of ongoing projects, and increasing subscriber satisfaction and loyalty.
To make this happen, here are five trends worth noting for 2023.
- The Customer Journey is Moving Quickly Down the Road to Digitization
Digital channels are providing an increasing number of opportunities for improving customer experience, both reactively and proactively. Consider how a mobile app can offer a direct, digital communication channel between a subscriber and their ISP for faster problem solving without the need to add friction by adding a phone call or an email client.
Self-care apps can take this one step further, offering the ability for subscribers to solve their own problems, for example through a home network analysis that identifies a drop in performance and provides a solution for mitigation. For this to work, ISPs will need to begin understanding and measuring their customers’ behavior in the connected home, so that they can offer personalized campaigns and outreach.
With an omnichannel customer journey, customers in 2023 will be able to attain a higher satisfaction rate, limiting the frustrations of sitting on hold or putting up with sub-par performance. ISPs will see this translated as higher CSAT and NPS scores, and lower OpEx as self-care deflects support tickets and reduces customer support hours.
- The Year of Hyper Personalization is Upon Us
McKinsey Research has found that only 5% of Telcos have unlocked the “potential of analytics and data-driven personalization to achieve true competitive advantage in order to maximize revenue growth.” In 2023, we predict more businesses will use AI for the purposes of customer segmentation and grouping through analysis of customer behavior and improving customer experience at every stage of their lifecycle.
By grouping customers into specific segments and cohorts, and analyzing behavior through the lens of differentiators, Telcos can make smarter and more accurate decisions in the moment. Segments could include:
– Lifecycle stage: Using demographic data and major life events to segment by the level of stickiness to the brand, treating recently onboarded users differently from brand champions, understanding when a household expands, or tracking when a customer moves home but stays with your service.
– Behavior: Understand when heavy usage hours are, which devices are being used and how, and what the popular kinds of service are for each home – whether that’s gaming, conferencing, streaming or otherwise.
– Experience: How satisfied are subscribers with the CSP’s internet service? What Quality of Experience are they receiving? High risk customer groups can be treated differently from those seeing a first-time issue.
This approach will allow Telcos to identify cohorts and segment them by their support needs or how likely they are to positively respond to specific offerings, providing personalized offers and communication as necessary.
- 5G Continues its Rollout, Covering More Connected Homes
Even in rural areas, 5G allows for faster connectivity and better coverage, and the rise of connected devices such as speakers, security cameras, air conditioning units and gaming consoles is one area for Telcos to watch closely. As 5G networks can achieve speeds of 1GBps, they are already taking on WiFi as the provider of connectivity for a growing range of devices. This is especially true in more rural or suburban areas, where the cost or availability of running fiber to the home is prohibitive.
In this case, fixed wireless, or 5G broadband will become increasingly popular throughout 2023 and beyond. For Telcos offering multiple services, it will be more critical than ever to obtain insight into the true performance of the connected home, as 5G comes with different challenges from traditional WiFi. For example, millimeter wave struggles to penetrate glass and certain kinds of walls, especially if the devices are not close enough to a cell tower. Do you have a plan in place for understanding performance of 5G vs WiFi, and acting accordingly?
- Hands off Telcos. Your Customers Want an Invisible Touch
The self-service evolution is nothing new, with the benefits of offering self-serve tools and processes covering anything from higher CSATs to lower OpEx and beyond. Many industries are successfully implementing self-care, and Telcos may have been a lagging adopter, but they will continue to catch up in 2023. Gartner reports that 70% of customers are using self-serve at some point in their journey, and this number is only growing.
Leaping the competition, we’re expecting to see self-care morph into the rise of proactive and predictive care over the next few years, continuing the trend of a service provider who can act ahead of time so that customers never need to reach out at all.
This could look like segmenting users into groups representing those who are more or less likely to churn for example, then introducing a specific campaign for the high-risk or suffering homes. Telcos could also create more sensitive alerts for customers who have recently onboarded, or target specific mitigation to specific groups of users where the fixes will have the greatest impact. Where possible, customers will either be able to help themselves, or the help will be provided hands-free behind the scenes.
- WiFi 6, to 6E, to 7… and Beyond
WiFi is a critical utility for today’s connected homes, and in 2023 subscribers will only continue to raise their expectations of their ISPs. Today, WiFi 6E is the norm, and WiFi 7 is already entering the market, expected to grow as we move towards 2024. For ISPs, ensuring a predictable and powerful WiFi experience is essential, especially as consumers use their internet for more diverse and intensive tasks such as immersive experiences, IoT devices, working from home, streaming, gaming, conferencing and more.
As WiFi 7 supports multilink operation and time sensitive networking, and leverages 6GHz spectrum with auto coordination of frequency, it’s a powerful step up. These benefits might sound perfect for manufacturing and industry, but connected homes will soon get on board, as the speeds are predicted to be 4x faster than WiFi 6, will allow home users to share files in seconds, and guarantee super low latency and ultimate reliability.
The WBA’s annual industry report makes it crystal clear. 53% have already deployed WiFi 6E, with 44% more working on adoption within the next 18 months. 33% are two steps ahead, with plans to deploy WiFi 7 by 2024.
Of course, many devices aren’t WiFi 7 ready, and Telcos will need to think hard about what will change when upgrading a connected home to a WiFi 7 router. After all, specifications aren’t even expected to arrive until sometime in 2024! Which bands and frequency channels will devices use for example, and how will you manage 6E devices vs new WiFi 7 devices, or legacy assets at the same time?
Whether it’s WiFi 7, 5G broadband, the self-care revolution, or the move towards hyper-personalization, expectations for Telcos have never been higher. In 2023, visibility and control will be more essential than ever, as subscribers will expect ISPs to be ready to hit the ground running.