Top 5 ways telcos can adapt to the virtual cultural shift

Top 5 ways telcos can adapt to the virtual cultural shift

Top 5 ways telcos can adapt to the virtual cultural shift

 

5th of May 2020

Telecommunications today is more essential than ever. Data and mobility have taken on a pivotal role across sectors like healthcare, education, transportation, smart cities, oil and gas, utilities, and more. Now, there is unprecedented demand on networks with cultural shifts due to the pandemic. Given the unpredictability of the future, and with many companies considering the possibility of permanently adopting remote work, the focus is directed to network contingency plans. One thing is clear: service providers with digitally advanced systems will adapt more easily to this cultural shift. And to enhance their systems, these are the top five factors they need to focus on:

Maintain high-performing and scalable networks

More people around the world are working from home due to lockdowns, and those isolating and in quarantine are spending more time on high-bandwidth streaming services such as Netflix, Youtube, and other entertainment channels, further increasing the network load. To serve this surge in demand and long-term cultural shift, telcos must invest in robust AAA infrastructure that is highly available, scalable, and stateless. Operators facing network challenges can transform AAA seamlessly and virtually, ensuring zero impact on their existing IT systems and integrations.

Automate workflows and processes

As their customers do more from home, telcos should also aim to reduce manual and in-person touchpoints. An advanced digital business support systems (BSS) stack helps automate business processes, including complex and repetitive tasks, freeing up network resources, and minimizing errors. Telcos can create, launch, deliver, and manage communications services entirely through a digital-first customer experience, keeping them ahead of the competition. Operators can introduce innovative plans, bonus policies, cashbacks, and targeted offers on-the-fly as the market evolves. Increased digitalization and personalization keeps customers engaged and loyal to the brand.

Digital transformation facilitates rapid implementation and customization as it possesses the following features:

  • Cloud-native services
  • Open APIs and standardized workflows
  • Automated provisioning, fulfillment, testing, chatbots
  • Microservice architecture

In addition, better internal processes and automated workflows mean higher productivity and efficiency in interacting with customers and vendors, while maintaining high operational excellence.

Deliver a digitally-advanced experience

It is crucial for telcos to adopt a digital-first approach to their business, not only because the majority of young consumers prefer interacting with brands through smartphones or online, but long-term cultural shifts due to the pandemic demand a rapid change to conducting business and serving customers virtually.

For example, customers prefer visual assistance to solve their problems. Vodafone has capitalized on this and uses the power of video to relieve the burden on their call centers that used to receive a staggering 5.2 million calls for technical assistance per year. They are now able to resolve customer issues remotely using AI and AR, helping their agents interpret and visually guide the customer, resulting in faster and more accurate problem resolution.

The main areas of focus for digitalization include:

  • Shift in-store customer experience to a digital channel
  • Reduce physical contact through virtual troubleshooting
  • Automate customer touchpoints to improve customer experience
  • Have IT systems that can support the cultural shift

Provide omnichannel support

With an increasing number of digital channels and a growing focus on customer experience, operators need to adopt an omnichannel strategy to keep pace with the expectations of customers. And its applications are two-fold.

For one, omnichannel engagement options extend a seamless, consistent, and unified shopping experience to customers across all touchpoints, whether they are shopping on the operator’s portal or through an online marketplace, physical stores, product catalogs, social media platforms, or chatbots.

Second, omnichannel self-care plays a significant role in the operator’s customer experience strategy, helping customers to play an active role in managing their accounts. Customers can manage their plans and services, create friends and family groups for special calling rates, and control data usage. The added transparency and increased ability to monitor accounts improves customer satisfaction and helps build trust. Automated and intelligent interactions through the web, mobile, and multiple social media channels further enhance the digital experience and empower customers with:

  • Automated digital onboarding
  • Simplified purchases
  • Automated support
  • Multiple payment modes
  • Swift complaint redressal
  • Gifting options
  • Parental controls

Move to SaaS to relieve IT

With the long-term shift to working virtually, a huge strain is put on a company’s IT infrastructure. SaaS software can relieve a huge burden on the IT infrastructure and ensure connectivity and reliability. One of the top priorities for all service providers must be shifting their infrastructure to the cloud because it lets them focus on digitization opportunities with limited investment. SaaS BSS architecture provides the telco with advanced modules, preconfigured fixed and mobile broadband plans, and 24×7 managed service operations, while a dedicated customer success manager ensures faster return on investment and reduced time-to-market. It also helps with reduced expenditure on hardware, infrastructure, maintenance, and more. The SaaS solution helps operators rapidly transform and adapt their business to modern technology trends that facilitate back-office process automation and digitize customer experience for their staff and subscribers.

Conclusion

To capitalize on cultural shifts and surging demand in data, telecom providers need to concentrate on a digital makeover, either as a complete network overhaul or a phased digital transformation. This includes not just offering better network capabilities but also implementing innovative tools and strategies to enable process automation and enhanced customer experience. Service providers must consider investing in digital technologies to build next-gen offerings and streamline business and IT operations, using SaaS software and agile methodologies to analyze and understand overall market demands, business requirements, customer data, and real-time delivery needs. It’s certain there is opportunity for companies to evolve in these challenging times.

Anand Ramani

Anand Ramani

Director R&D

A senior professional with more than 20 years of experience in the telecom BSS domain, Anand is passionate about adapting newer technologies and building digital products. He heads the company’s R&D activities for core products such as Digital BSS, WiFi, and AAA.

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Why every telco’s CX strategy should include omnichannel self-care

Why every telco’s CX strategy should include omnichannel self-care

Why every telco’s CX strategy should include omnichannel self-care

 

25th of February 2020

What do customers want? This is a million-dollar question – customer experience (CX) tops the list of differentiators that will give communications service providers (CSPs) an edge – and the answer’s constantly evolving. What’s indisputable is that digital transformation has meant customers are savvier and more self-reliant than ever, and they expect more control over their accounts. They want to manage all facets of their accounts using the social platform/s and apps they find most convenient, not necessarily legacy channels like IVR. Most importantly, they will remain loyal to a service provider that delivers a simple, interactive, seamless, personalized, digital, omnichannel self-care experience.

Research reveals that companies with robust omnichannel engagement boast an 89% customer retention rate; for companies with weak omnichannel strategies, on the other hand, that number is merely 33%. And customer retention is only the tip of the iceberg. Offering omnichannel digital engagement also means increased automation, workforce optimization, lower marketing and sales spending, reduced burden on call centers, and accelerated inbound leads – all of which improve revenue.

The evolution of self-care

More conventional forms of self-care such as SMS, USSD, search options on the website and FAQs have been around for years, and almost all operators offer at least one of these. However, their scope is limited and they do not support personalized responses based on the customer’s unique issues. IVR with live agents and email support address this limitation, but resolving issues takes hours, sometimes days. Customers no longer want to wait indefinitely for a response from customer care agents. In fact, in a survey conducted by Nuance Communications, 67% of respondents prefer self-service versus speaking directly to a customer care representative.

Customers today expect their concerns to be addressed immediately and like to follow the progress of their requests in real-time. Modern self-care solutions let operators respond automatically, any time of day or night, using cost-efficient AI chatbots. These chatbots have the capability to converse in multiple languages, and they use NLP to recognize and demonstrate human emotion. They are available for channels like live chat, web self-care, mobile apps, popular voice assistants like Alexa and Google, social media platforms like Whatsapp, Skype, Viber, Twitter, Facebook, and more.

Omnichannel experience means not only seamless switching but also smart channel integration, such as directing to IVR in a mobile app when customers are unable to solve problems and to follow-up when promised response times are exceeded. Customers can also choose between a chatbot and a live agent.

Self-care also includes advanced analytical tools that ensure a personalized experience for customers.

Some self-care operations include:

  • Digital self-onboarding with digital KYC
  • Number selection
  • Personalizing plans
  • Activating connections
  • Purchasing add-ons
  • Paying bills, even for others
  • Gifting and sharing balances
  • Viewing and managing rewards points
  • Real-time proactive alerts and notifications
  • Managing family members and parental controls

Of course, implementing modern self-care is enhanced by a modern digital BSS that defines automated workflows for each type of request, and can keep customers up to speed with the progress of their complaint through notifications on multiple channels.

How customer self-sufficiency spells success

Modern automated self-care may be considered a customer-focused offering, but operators benefit just as much as their subscribers do. It significantly reduces costs compared to phone-based self-service. Recent statistics show the benefits of AI-powered chatbots versus traditional IVR systems in resolving customer queries:

  • 80% of routine questions are answered by chatbots, freeing up agents for more productive work
  • 30% reduction in customer service costs
  • 50% decrease in call volume

And early entrants are already seeing results. Vodafone Italy, for instance, has reported that after introducing its conversational chatbot, 66% of its customer contacts were automated, reducing human contact, lowering the average number of times a customer contacted them by 15%, and 19% year-on-year reduction in customer operations costs.

Top 6 benefits of omnichannel self-care for operators

Automated Processes
Modern self-care means automation, and automation means lower costs. Chatbots and automated self-care reduce customer calls to CSRs, lowering call center operational costs. Automated self-onboarding lets customers use their mobile devices to create an account, upload their KYC documents, sign an e-contract, activate services, and track delivery of their SIM. The entire process can be completed in just a few minutes and is paperless, reducing costs and simplifying customer acquisition. By accelerating inbound leads, operators can optimize their workforce, allowing them to focus on other aspects of the business.

Easy Account Management
Customers can keep track of their digital interactions and self-manage their accounts, including plans, services, and groups, which reduces reliance on CSRs and/or walk-ins to physical stores. Further, this feature increases transparency, improving customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

Personalized Promotions and Offerings
Intelligent analytics and machine-learning techniques aid in subscriber profiling and monitoring conversion rates, content usage trends and network activity. Detailed insights into the customer’s behavior and preferences enable operators to promote offers tailored to the subscriber’s needs. CSPs receive detailed reports about the percentage of customers who like or dislike offers proposed to them and can also determine which customers are happy with their network offerings. These insights, when further processed, are often converted into mobile campaigns and help operators in targeting customers effectively on a large scale, helping reduce sales and marketing costs.

Easy Purchases and Payments
Contextual advertisements help target the right customers. UI-focused self-care also displays all available services, offers, and promotions clearly, making it easier and quicker for customers to make purchases and renewals. And the purchasing experience is simplified by offering multiple payment options using secure payment gateways. Consumption data enables tracking customer groups that are high-maintenance versus those that can serve themselves, those who are price-sensitive, those who upgrade their plans frequently, and so on. With these reports, operators can offer incentives and discounts, and implement cross-sell and upsell opportunities.

Customer-Centric Use Cases
Customer-centric offerings put the customer in the driver’s seat, enabling them to purchase plans, top-ups, value-added services like unlimited and tiered plans, bandwidth on demand, data gifting, parental controls, personalized incentives, loyalty rewards, and more. Having more control over their accounts boosts customer experience both before and after the sale and drives repeat business, ensuring customer loyalty and improving overall business growth.

Multichannel and Multilingual Support
The importance of enabling customers to engage with their service providers using their platform and language of choice cannot be stressed enough. Customers can address queries and ensure swift complaint redressal, as well as receive proactive alerts and notifications, through the channel that’s most convenient for them. And while this enhances customer experience, it also reducing reliance on more conventional methods like CSRs and physical stores, helping reduce sales, marketing, and operational costs.

Differentiation and Personalization are Key

To conclude, service differentiation not only includes delivery and customer service but also letting subscribers access, manage and configure plans or services from anywhere and on any device, through an experience that’s been customized based on their needs and preferences. Omnichannel self-care stands out amongst the top offerings for operators to stay ahead of the competition.

Pankaj Garg

Pankaj Garg

Product Owner, Digital BSS

Pankaj Garg is a telecom and FinTech expert with over 14 years of experience in the software industry. Handling digital BSS offerings is among the many hats he wears at Alepo. Always up to speed with the newest advancements in the products he handles, he takes it slow only when he’s road-tripping across India to discover new places.

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Top 7 benefits digital BSS delivers, now and in 5G

Top 7 benefits digital BSS delivers, now and in 5G

Top 7 benefits digital BSS delivers, now and in 5G

 

14th of January 2020

As evidenced in countries where it has launched, 5G brings massive innovation potential but is challenging to monetize if its only unique offering is ultrafast speed. Many operators are aware that 5G success depends on their digital Business Support Systems (BSS) and bringing innovation to their own business models. A recent study by TM Forum reveals that 72% of CSPs believe 5G revenue growth is completely dependent on transforming their BSS and OSS. However, digital transformation is beneficial even before 5G is rolled out: a robust BSS stack enables implementing and monetizing key 5G use cases, such as OTT partnerships and new business models, on previous-gen networks.

5G networks are anticipated to deliver a transformational customer experience with improved speed, connectivity, network coverage, interoperability, and more. And this will be further enhanced with omnichannel support, which offers a highly personalized, consistent, seamless, and holistic view of the complete customer journey. Enabling faster speeds and connectivity, rapid service creation and monetization, and differentiated partnership models for new revenue streams will be a necessity for operators. Those ready with 5G Core (5GC) architecture before the 5G market matures will have a competitive edge. It provides a high-level of orchestration and automation with the use of a modular 5G service-based architecture (SBA) required to meet future challenges and business needs. An effective digital BSS helps to fully monetize this transformation and derive maximum ROI.

How digital BSS unlocks 5G potential

With limited features and rigid architecture, legacy BSS cannot keep up with the evolving demands of customers as they embrace a digital lifestyle. With a digital BSS stack, operators can seize the benefits of 5G – a fact they are well aware of. According to this report , the global digital BSS market is expected to reach approximately USD 7,416 million by 2025, at a CAGR of roughly 15% between 2019 and 2025.

A digital BSS provides an elastic, modern, and convergent system in a virtualized network environment, giving CSPs an edge over competitors and enabling them to readily offer unique 5G services. An effective BSS transformation helps modernize fixed and wireless networks, as well as support CSPs to introduce differentiated services and automate business processes.

What should you look for in a digital BSS?

5G facilitates real-time rating, metering and charging for sophisticated digital services, along with monetization schemes such as QoS tiers, OTT billing and charging, partner settlements (B2B2X), and more – all of which is possible only with a flexible and agile BSS platform. Robust digital BSS architecture using the latest 5G standards is essential in this competitive and ever-evolving market – today and well into the future – to be able to support a dynamic environment and provide quick time-to-value in delivering new features and functions.

Top benefits operators enjoy with digital BSS

Modern digital BSS features help improve and monetize legacy as well as next-gen networks, driving the following benefits for operators:

1. Rapid and phased deployments
A truly modern digital BSS is modular, cloud-native and deployed virtually. For operators not wanting to undertake a complete digital transformation at one go, it’s possible to implement in phases, so there is low risk involved in migration and fewer resources are required to launch it. Further, End of Life is less frequent, and the hardware is much easier to manage.

2. Accelerated monetization of use-cases
A 5G-ready digital BSS stack lets operators rapidly monetize the data network with innovative and personalized offerings, enhancing the digital experience for subscribers and improving customer loyalty. The elastic and convergent platform provides a network environment for CRM, convergent charging and billing, with REST APIs that offer the flexibility to quickly introduce a host of digital services with new billing models.

3. Centralized catalog management
With 5G, network slicing, and the surge of IoT and other data-intensive services like AI and VR, it will be challenging for CSPs to meet the demands to support new business models and use cases on the fly without expensive and lengthy backend code changes. A digital BSS stack with a centralized product catalog enables CSPs to swiftly respond to this network evolution. A common product repository and robust API framework allow CSPs, partners, and distributors to accelerate TTM for new products and services and improve revenue and customer engagement. With modern centralized catalogs, plans can be defined by many metrics such as volume, value, time, and quality of service. This core functionality helps ease teamwork and collaboration, manage offers efficiently, support multi-play offerings, and provide quick access to prebuilt use cases library.

4. Improved customer management
Customer relationship management covers all important aspects of the customer lifecycle, from registration and hierarchy to offering a 360-degree view to CSRs for subscribers as well as enterprise customers. With digital CRM, operators can implement automated workflows, streamline sales and support, and use chatbots and AI to reduce manual CSR workload. Additionally, it enables instant issue redressal and quick troubleshooting with web and mobile self-care including live chat options, lowering operational expenses and reducing churn.

5. Efficient revenue management
CSPs need real-time billing and policy control capabilities to seize and monetize opportunities that all-IP networks bring. Convergent charging facilitates automated rates and charging mechanisms. Further, revenue management solutions with reliable interconnect and billing for roaming help manage diverse partnerships, enabling CSPs to efficiently charge other operators for use of their voice, data, SMS, and other network infrastructure. A modern digital BSS with real-time APIs can also facilitate new 5G use cases like surge or congestion charging at times when the demand for digital services is high.

6. Enhanced partner management
A digital BSS stack with an integrated partner management platform helps improve operational agility by streamlining the partner lifecycle. It helps cultivate relationships with simplified onboarding, self-service, and support for a host of partner functions such as content, OTT, IoT, interconnect agreements, roaming, MVNO, and others. A partner management solution with open API integration works seamlessly with third-party systems.

7. Automated omnichannel support
Improving customer experience is not merely about providing better user interfaces on various devices, but also integrating the process across channels. Omnichannel support allows operators to provide a consistent, seamless, and highly personalized self-care experience through web, mobile and social media platforms, ensuring swift problem resolution while making customers feel more connected and valued. The most recent additions to this trend are WhatsApp-, AI- and NLP-powered chatbots for instant redressal of customer queries.

Telcos are already in the battle to build 5G networks and intend to offer improved quality of service to customers. And as they invest billions of dollars in 5G RAN, they must remember that an effective 5G strategy includes IT systems to generate ROI on that investment. Digital BSS has the great benefit of being modular so it can be rolled out in phases, mitigating the risks involved in a largescale migration of one’s billing system. To maximize their chances of success, operators must modernize their infrastructure with a digital BSS transformation today.

Rani Shanmugam

Rani Shanmugam

Marketing Content Writer

Long story short, Rani writes about the workings of telecom networks. Short story long, she has a rich and diverse background as a developer, business analyst, and technical writer for broad-spectrum solutions across various industries, and is now focused on telecommunications marketing. She unwinds by painting with her toddler son and loves to whip up elaborate meals fit for a feast.

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CSP to DSP: A Journey of Transformation

CSP to DSP: A Journey of Transformation

CSP to DSP: A Journey of Transformation

9th of March 2017
As mobile technologies have evolved, so has the telecommunications customer base. While ten years ago, customers were looking for little more than access, the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets has created new demands and opportunities that expand the role of the service provider.

Simple one-fits-all service worked in the past, but as technology has evolved, so have customer needs and expectations. A recent IBM study on Generation Z showed that 75 percent of respondents picked a mobile phone or smartphone as their device of choice, and 47 percent said they use their smartphones when shopping in a store. Further, prior to making any purchasing decisions, Generation Z uses their phones to research products and services to compare prices and discounts.

So, as technologies and consumers evolve, CSPs can find themselves left behind, crippled by their legacy systems into offering impersonal plans, leaving current and potential customers unsatisfied.

It is, therefore, becoming increasingly clear that CSPs should strongly consider transforming into DSPs (Digital Service Providers). What distinguishes DSPs is precisely this fine-grained service, and ability to bundle several offerings, such as broadband access, content, and mobile apps.

A DSP is a service provider which has evolved from offering just the core telecom services, to providing broadband access, content, services and mobile apps to its customers.

While this evolution can be challenging, it is a necessity for providers who wish to remain competitive. In order to fully monetize their networks, it is imperative that they offer bundled and nuanced plans to a customer base ready to pay for these features.

But what exactly does it take to transform from a CSP to DSP?

How to evolve from a CSP to a DSP?

Becoming a DSP is about becoming more responsive and adaptable to consumers’ wants and needs around mobile data services. A stellar customer experience – complete with personalized and contextual mobile data offers, real-time usage alerts, unique roaming offers, and everything digital – is central to being successful as a DSP.

The core ingredients of a successful DSP:

  • Subscriber Segmentation Capabilities: A CSP needs to have granular segmentation capabilities based on parameters such as location, age, gender, consumption, device type, and many more. Mobile data needs for each subscriber varies greatly and requires this segmentation for smart offers that increase ARPU. A recent study by The Manifest reveals that of the 511 smartphone users surveyed, almost 40 percent use social media apps frequently – almost four times more than any gaming, communication or messaging apps. However, if we were to consider another context – enterprise customers – we’d find that their aim is to limit their employees’ use on certain social websites while at work and instead promote other services. To cater to these two different segments, an operator must create a customized offer for each.
  • Rich Contextual Data Offer Creation:  CSPs should be able to create offers based on multiple parameters: QoS, apps and content, time, device type, data usage, and subscriber profile, as well as network-centric parameters like congestion, access network, and location.
  • Sponsored Apps and Offers: CSPs can partner with other ecosystem players, like OTT apps or digital services, to offer special promotions or plans that are subsidized by the partner. For example, an operator may offer a plan where video streaming is free from one of their local video partners, to drive consumption of that content.
  • CSPs Own App: A lot of CSPs are choosing this option and urging users to install their native app. Using the app, subscribers can instantly purchase a data pass, or even create their own, based on how much data and validity they want to buy. In addition, users can subscribe to personalized data usage alerts. Subscribers can also elect to set their own bandwidth speeds for data, to manage and even “stretch” their usage.

The transformation of a CSP into a DSP is indeed disruptive, but it is the need of the hour. CSPs need to evolve their legacy systems, molding their business models to stay relevant and profitable in the market.

In the coming times, consumers and their needs will be the driving force of the market. CSPs need to understand this and create valuable offerings and business processes that put consumers at the center. CSPs need to plan ahead of the changing market requirements to beat the curve and relevant to their customers at all times.

Click here to read how Green Com modernizes its mobile network with an Alepo BSS Transformation solution, resulting in 10% higher revenues within just two months of deployment.

Pankaj Garg

Pankaj Garg

Product Owner, Digital BSS

Pankaj Garg is a telecom and FinTech expert with over 14 years of experience in the software industry. Handling digital BSS offerings is among the many hats he wears at Alepo. Always up to speed with the newest advancements in the products he handles, he takes it slow only when he’s road-tripping across India to discover new places.

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