Press Release

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
  • AGifting 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 24x7 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.

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.

Cielux Partners with Alepo to Roll Out a 4G Customer Experience in Africa

Austin, TX, October 10, 2012 – Alepo, a leading provider of network and IT solutions for next telecommunications service providers, announced today that its longstanding customer, Cielux Telecom, has successfully upgraded to Alepo Service Enabler (SE) 8.1, the latest version of Alepo’s signature BSS / OSS framework. The upgrade supports Cielux’s ongoing effort to rollout convergent 4G services across the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

With Alepo SE, Cielux is able to optimize the delivery of high-speed, 4G data services on its nationwide mobile broadband network, the first and only of its kind in DRC. Cielux will leverage SE’s convergent charging capabilities to create differentiated, tiered services, offering usage-based prepaid and postpaid plans to new and existing residential and business customers.

“Cielux is committed to the advancement of high-speed mobile broadband and keeping pace with the latest technology and developments to exceed the customers’ expectations within the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) at an affordable price. Thanks to Alepo’s continual innovation and expertise in 4G core infrastructure, we are able to make that commitment a reality,” said Ashwini Kumar Gogoi, Cielux Executive Director, COO & CFO. Gogoi added, “With Alepo SE’s built-in flexibility, we are able to deliver all of INET’s customer-centric service plans to a single device with a single online click, making Alepo SE incredibly user-friendly for business-to-consumer transactions.”

The upgrade to Alepo SE 8.1 furnishes Cielux with advanced capabilities that work to enhance the customer experience. With Alepo SE’s intuitive, web-2.0 Subscriber Portal, customers can access real-time account information, top up and refill accounts via prepaid cards, and more. An automated messaging system allows Cielux to easily send real-time customer notifications and balance alerts via e-mail and SMS. And, the added policy control functionality of Alepo’s PCRF Lite extends the solution to enable Cielux to upgrade or downgrade bandwidth in real time and to hotline users upon expiration or zero balance to a customized captive portal. Most importantly, the upgrade process did not interrupt or jeopardize Cielux’s existing services.

“On an evolutionary path to 4G convergent services, service providers can leverage the advanced capabilities of carrier-grade solutions like Service Enabler that work to enhance the customer experience across legacy and next generation networks and services, seamlessly and cost-effectively,” said Jonathan Garini, Alepo Vice President of Products. “Alepo is proud to continue to support Cielux as the company seizes new opportunities to advance its network and to distinguish itself through superior customer experience.”

About Cielux Telecom

Founded in 2003, Cielux Telecom is now one of the largest ISP in DRC, combining know-how and technical infrastructure to offer best-in-class products and solutions. In July 2009, Cielux started its operations with triple-play services: Data, VoIP, and Video based on fixed WiMAX technology IEEE802.16d on local loop in 3.5 GHz licensed frequency. With its own VSAT Hubs, ISP, and Microwave license, Cielux was able to set up a carrier-class core network infrastructure across DRC. In July 2012, Cielux launched its high-speed mobile 4G data services based on IEEE802.16e technology in 2.5 GHz licensed frequency in Kinshasa under the brand INET. Cielux is proud to have generated a good customer base, including many renowned corporate customers to date in just 3 months after launch. Cielux will be expanding its operations to all major cities of DRC early next year. This will pave the way for whole DRC to experience the next generation high-speed mobile broadband services.

About Alepo

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