Telcos have been trying to keep up with increasingly digital lifestyles for years now. The pandemic has further amplified the demand for digitization, significantly impacting the way customers interact. More customers today prefer interacting with their service providers using digital touchpoints instead of visiting physical stores, and operators have already started to replace their conventional outposts. To remain relevant, MNOs need to fully digitize customer experience (CX). Having a digital-first strategy and building zero-touch networks enables them to move all customer interactions online while automating back-end processes.
Why zero-touch networks?
Zero-touch networks help operators minimize the need for physical touchpoints and support staff by ensuring all customer interactions take place through a website or mobile app using automation and AI chatbots. Operators can drastically reduce their investments of time, resources, and money by overcoming the constraints of physical infrastructure. The network can operate in the cloud, providing a lean alternative to the traditional network that does not require managing complex IT and network systems, large-scale call centers, and physical stores. Real-time data insights, gained from data gathered through various digital channels, enable sound business decisions and drive business success.
Major operator challenges today
Some challenges that operators need to tackle include:
- Customer reluctance to visit physical stores and need for instant resolutions
- Customers want to buy products and services with minimal human interaction
- Competition from OTT services, many of which offer a modern and advanced CX
- Advanced offerings to remain competitive with other operators while keeping costs low
- Customers expect their service providers to grant them an effortless and personalized experience
- Automating interactions and using data insights to personalize the experience
Zero-touch networks help address all these concerns, granting more control to customers.
Business benefits of the zero-touch model
Zero-touch networks enable operators to remain competitive, minimizing their dependence on physical stores, support staff, inbound call centers, and network infrastructure, helping them to:
- Attract a younger, more digitally savvy clientele
- Significantly reduce capital, operational, and resource costs
- Complete sales and support activities in a fraction of the time with enhanced lead generation
- Ensure faster and more meaningful interactions, letting customers control how they interact
- Introduce personalized and contextual plans, campaigns, and promotions
- Gain data insights to predict customer needs with advanced web analytics
- Accelerate time-to-market for new products and services
How zero-touch networks transform CX
The zero-touch network strategy helps digitize and automate the entire customer lifecycle, starting with marketing services to gain new subscribers, followed by registration, onboarding, and account activation. Campaigns and promotions can be configured for up-selling, cross-selling, and loyalty programs. And finally by giving the tools to solve their own problems, with chatbots and community forums.
Zero-touch networks help meet the growing demand from customers to have more control over their accounts. Customers can customize their plans, select the contract term, pick the mobile number they want, check for service availability in their area, choose from a range of personalized promotions and campaigns, set custom notifications, complete purchases using the online payment methods of their choosing, and more.
The CX can be further enhanced by coupling these features with a clean design that makes the UX easy to navigate. For instance, fewer screens to complete an action, clear CTAs and buttons, seamless experience to enable returning customers to pick up where they left off, and more.
Operations enabled by zero-touch networks
End-to-end digital onboarding enables customers to self-register, verify their documents, and activate their accounts – completely online. On the operator’s website or mobile app, they can browse offerings, select the plan/s they want, upload their identification documents and have them verified through secure eKYC, make an online payment, order the SIM card to their address, and activate the SIM online, all within a fraction of the time it took to purchase a new connection through conventional means.
Operators are also beginning to adopt eSIMs, adding an additional security layer by eliminating the need for a physical SIM card and replacing it with digitally transmitted SIM data. Combined with a backend with fully automated workflows backed by AI and RPA, operators can ensure a smooth, seamless, and secure onboarding experience.
Automating customer journeys
Zero-touch networks enable operators to provide more personalized, intelligent, and dynamic customer journeys by leveraging the potential of modern digital platforms such as social media, chat platforms, and community forums.
Automated digital touchpoints provide customers with relevant recommendations depending on their usage patterns and preferences, enable guided searches, ensure a consistent experience across platforms, and more.
Operators, in turn, gain a holistic view of the customer journey, helping improve sales and marketing strategies and facilitating them to provide more contextual offerings. By providing omnichannel self-care, they can enable customers to interact using the language and platform/s of their choice. Implementing automation and AI chatbot integrations means only issues that cannot be resolved by a digital assistant are escalated to human agents, reducing dependence on human agents and helping phase out inbound call centers.
Advanced data gathering and insights
One of the greatest benefits of an all-digital offering is that it presents the opportunity to gather data at every touchpoint and interaction with the customer. In addition, operators can also encourage more engagement – more engagement means more data – through digital channels with quick surveys, opinion polls, participation in community forums, and more. Through advanced analytics, this data can be used to generate custom BI reports, segmenting customers for a more contextual and personalized user experience than ever before.
Improved digital security
In addition to the data from subscriptions and interactions, there is also an exponentially increasing number of connected devices from which networks gather data. New global and region-specific compliances provide a framework for operators to collect and store this data. They can counter security threats such as the risk of online identity fraud by implementing stringent identity verification systems and eKYC solutions that comply with these new standards and regulations. Employing new technologies such as eSIM and phasing out less secure means of verification such as postal addresses will further help bolster security.
The last two years have largely involved tackling pandemic-related challenges such as unprecedented demand for network services, the inability to operate physical stores and call centers, and digital payments. To accommodate this digital cultural shift, many operators have already implemented several structural changes to modernize their network infrastructure. Moving forward, they will need to continue this move towards digitizing their networks. As they introduce more digital offerings, it’s important for them to leverage AI, automation, ML, and other next-gen technologies to create entirely new experiences rather than replicating traditional analog functions.
The digital-first business model helps enable new capabilities for customers while driving revenue for operators. It streamlines sales and support processes, keeps capital investments and overheads low, and ensures a low resource footprint by operating in the cloud.
Depending on their business goals and current infrastructure (if any), operators may either choose to launch a separate new all-digital brand or digitize their existing networks. Alepo’s cloud-native Zero-Touch Network Solution helps meet every business objective, facilitating fully digital businesses for greenfield and incumbent MNOs. Its unparalleled expertise has recently facilitated a tier-1 North American operator to launch a fully digital mobile service brand – the first of many ongoing deployments.
Begin your zero-touch journey today: book a demo.
Director, Product Management
Pankaj Garg is a telecom and FinTech expert with over 15 years of experience in the software industry. Handling digital BSS and 5G 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.