Digital watch, Digital TV… Digital CSP?

(Image Credit: Phil Dowsing Creative)

Consumer attitudes and behaviours in the telecoms space have changed dramatically in the last decade. In the past, we used our mobiles sporadically for calls and messaging. Now, we’re a society attached to our smartphones day in, day out, using them as a gateway to one another and to the Internet. New studies have revealed that typical smartphone user checks their device an average 221 times a day amounting to over 1,500 times a week. Whether it’s checking the weather, sending emails or accessing Facebook – it’s obvious we’re addicted to mobile data consumption.

It’s a matter of survival of the fittest, and those who are unable to change and adapt will ultimately get left behind.

Today, even for many savvy users, the phone journey starts in-store. The majority of us will enter an operator’s retail outlet, choose a handset and negotiate a price plan before taking our new device home in a neatly packaged box. We may return to the retailer when we’re due an upgrade, but most of us (80%) will turn to a call centre when an issue arises.

With the cost of running a call centre adding up to anything between £13-35 per call, it goes without saying that Communications Service Providers (CSPs) spend millions a year on customer care.

The future will see the end user drive the customer service relationship, not the other way around, as has been traditional. Consumers will select their handset and price plans in a virtual store and the introduction of mobile self-care apps will see the customer empowered to rapidly escalate and resolve queries and problems, increasing loyalty and all the while simultaneously enabling CSPs to save significant sums on the costs of running a call centre.

But how do CSPs reach this new digital capability? By transforming their businesses to become Digital Service Providers (DSPs).

A DSP is any business that distributes goods and services online and deals with customers in real-time. It’s an organisation that provides mobile broadband access, services, content and apps – all sold directly from the device as opposed to a physical retail store.

The DSP isn’t merely a dumb pipe offering shared access to a common utility; it is an online, real-time business that deals with countless transactions every day, managing high volumes of data traffic and multiple devices per user, and often multiple users per account. The mobile landscape has changed dramatically and CSPs are fine-tuning their businesses and network infrastructure to cater for the needs of the data-hungry customer.

Today, traditional CSPs conduct fewer than 20% of transactions online.  But in the near future, DSPs will transform to handling up to 80% of customer transactions online, much like Amazon and other Internet-based brands already do. The speed at which new propositions and products can be rolled out also sets DSPs apart – they are more agile, and development cycles are much shorter and cheaper. This, in general, makes them far more profitable.

The new IT systems implemented by a DSP will shed the cost of running traditional customer support operations as there will be an influx of mobile self-care apps and channels. Offering full transparency to the consumer and enterprise, these apps will allow the end user to manage their accounts and purchase new services. This will also allow consumers to add top-ups and also share their data packages with family or work colleagues – and control sharing to take best advantage of data consumption patterns that emerge over time.

As the number of online transactions continues to increase exponentially, the need to shift to new real-time technologies will become crucial to give CSPs the network flexibility necessary.

The evolution to DSP will allow CSPs to connect with their customers, and provide real-time support to satisfy their demands and expectations, redefining the ‘traditional’ relationship between customer, brand and service. This paradigm shift has forced CSPs to re-evaluate their position and transform their businesses into ones which can sell an array of interactive services and experiences direct from the consumer’s device, in an instant.

Modern technology is evolving at a startling rate. Recent advances in online security and mobile payment technologies have led to up to five-fold increases in customer interactions. Take online banking for example. Ten years ago, the typical consumer may have paid a visit to the bank once or twice a month, but today’s consumer can securely log in and out of their account from almost anywhere, at any time. Consumers also use their mobile devices to purchase clothes, groceries, films and music around the clock.

A major facilitator of this new online economy is the CSP, whose networks are the cornerstone of these online transactions. So while any one industry might experience a five-fold increase in customer transaction volumes as they leverage mobile networks and apps, the service provider is handling these increases across all industries along with increasing amounts of instant messaging and next generation communications. 

This has an extreme multiplying effect on the transaction levels the service provider must subsume, putting them in a unique and challenging position to deal with the surge in digital transactions.  As the number of online transactions continues to increase exponentially, the need to shift to new real-time technologies will become crucial to give CSPs the network flexibility necessary to handle the influx of connected customers, services and transactions.

The legacy IT systems CSPs currently rely on were designed for a mobile era dominated by voice. We live in an increasingly data-centric world and are nearing a critical point where serving the demand for digital needs to be done in real-time. 4G has seen the advent of increasing data speeds, so usage alerts and transparency are now imperative for customer experience.

CSPs must acknowledge it is now the customer who drives the brand-consumer relationship, and define their digital strategies accordingly. As with any phase of evolution, it’s a matter of survival of the fittest and those who are unable to change and adapt will ultimately get left behind.

Do you plan to transform your CSP into a DSP? Let us know in the comments.

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salujakbs
31 Oct 2016, 10:57 a.m.

Exactly Jennifer, digitization has significantly transformed the telecom industry, including both consumers and service providers. Along with the use of mobile data surpassing voice and messaging services, subscribers’ expectations have also increased. Today, consumers want the power in their hands, I mean they want to resolve issues on their own without contacting a support agent.
This made essential for operators to deploy self service solutions for smartphones, like mobile self care apps. A true DSP (digital service provider) should cover all the aspects of a digital service (including both product and support parts)

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