The future of mobile: on-digital and on-demand

(Image Credit: iStockPhoto/djiledesign)

Consumers, particularly the millennial generation, use internet services to get them what they want, on their terms. Whether it’s ordering food from a restaurant of their choice through Deliveroo, booking a taxi any time of the day with Uber, or ordering clothing on the fly from ASOS – they have control over, and can get instant gratification from these services. The experience they receive from these digital services is one which they now expect from all of their digital interactions, including those with their communication service provider (CSP).

However, CSPs are in danger of simply providing access to today’s popular real-time services without delivering a unique customer experience that subscribers see value in. Every operator can offer data access, but they need to add value to the customer experience to attract and retain their customers. CSPs must, therefore, adapt their strategies to cater for today’s subscribers who demand a meaningful digital experience through their smartphones.

Success driven by customer control

New digital brands are successful because they put the customer in control and offer transparency. UK-based Shiply allows users to list their delivery, get a quote for the cost in an instant, and arrange a collection / delivery in less than a minute. Uber, meanwhile, gives it customers the options to select the type of car they want, receive a fare estimate, provides the details of the car and drivers, and monitor where their ride is, all in real-time.

The transparency and control they supply is important for gaining the trust of the customer and keeps them coming back for more. Consumers will cut-through brand promises that don’t give them visibility on spend or match the experience they were promised. They like to engage with brands that provide an immediate, useful and enjoyable experience. Delivering these factors is now imperative for today’s CSPs.

In order to deliver this level of control and immediacy, new digital brands benefit from modern technology that leverages flexible, cloud-based architecture, enabling them to deal with the abundance of interactions they receive a day. CSPs, on the other hand, are tied into fixed legacy technology, designed for a time when telecommunications was about voice and SMS. Their systems are not optimised for the millions of real-time customer transactions, or for delivering on-demand digital services.

When you also consider how many interactions mobile operators have to handle a day, in comparison to other digital brands, this situation becomes even more surprising. Uber delivers over a million taxi rides a day, and Amazon handles about 40 million transactions a day. Meanwhile, smartphones have become the hub of our daily lives and are used 100 times a day on average to carry out an array of activities from browsing the web, making calls, accessing social media, online banking and shopping. As a result, CSPs have to tackle hundreds of millions of transactions a day. So when CSPs look to deliver a customer experience using their legacy technology, akin to other digital service providers, it’s easy to see why they are struggling to impress their customers.

Giving consumers what they want

Some innovative CSPs are making taking steps to improve the customer experience. Telstra in Australia and Carphone iD in the UK, are realising that today’s customers want more from their service provider – they want a plan that they can tailor at their convenience. This includes the ability to receive alerts on their data and service usage, add roaming packages, buy and manage digital services such as music and streaming, and consume services in bite size chunks (such as eight hours of Facebook browsing or three hours of YouTube viewing).

Consumers want the best mobile deal to serve their needs, and they don’t want to be paying over the odds for it. A recent survey by uSwitch, revealed that more than 4 in 10 UK consumers are spending £40 a month on out-of-tariff mobile costs, for things such as exceeding mobile data limits, premium calls and overseas roaming fees. This should not be happening as consumers should be receiving a mobile experience that can be adapted to their lifestyle requirements. They should have warnings when they are reaching their service limits, and have the opportunity to add additional services at competitive rates. Operators risk heavy churn if their customers are constantly being stung by unexpected charges, or if they can’t find a tariff that suits their requirements.

The tools to become a digital commerce provider

CSPs, under today’s competitive pressures, must transform their businesses to enable them to deliver a customer experience that appeals to the digital subscriber. They must use a combination of new technology and a fresh commercial mindset, to engage customers, and offer them the digital commerce experience they crave.

CSPs can leverage next generation digital commerce platforms to configure and deploy new products and services, which can be sold, delivered and serviced through mobile and digital channels. They can fast-track the transition to digital in just a matter of months using agile digital ecosystems and IT stacks designed for the new requirements of a mobile, online customer journey. This process can be achieved more effectively by enlisting Chief Digital Officers, change makers within the business that can be tasked with the digital transformation projects. The can work with the technology that can define how they service the digital marketplace.

By making this progressive step forward, CSPs can offer a sophisticated, one-click customer experience, with multiple payment options for additional mobile services. They can transform the brands from simply being bit-pipes for other mobile services to true innovators. In turn, this will have a sustainable effect on ARPU and the brand's Net Promoter Score, vital to ongoing success.

How do you think CSPs should add value to the customer experience? Let us know in the comments.

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