Telecommunications operators are prioritizing new connections—their relationships with customers. The telecom industry lags its peers in customer satisfaction, with both internet service and subscription TV service at the bottom of the rankings by industry. Until the past decade, communication service providers (CSPs) have had competing priorities like monetization, often hindering investment into customer experience (CX). Now, in response to greater customer expectations and competition, CSPs are paying attention to CX.
Keep reading to discover how CSPs can improve customer experience and retention.
Why CX is Important for CSPs
CX is critical to prevent customer churn—particularly high in telco. In the U.S., the cable television and financial industries had the highest churn (25%) in 2020, with telecom/wireless at 21%. According to one report, 39% of telco customers reported leaving because of poor customer service. Of these, 41% switched because of inferior self-service options and 51% because they had to call more than once to resolve a problem. According to the 2022 State of Customer Churn in Telecom report, customer loyalty to telecom providers is down 22% post-pandemic due to poor customer experience.
With several large wireless providers in the US, and even more MVNO’s, there is more choice than ever for customers. Competition drives the need for deeper engagement with customers. Customers expect interacting with their wireless, internet or cable provider to be as quick, easy and convenient as it is with digital native disruptors such as Netflix, or Amazon. Apple has set the bar high for customer service. Telecom or cable operators that don’t meet customer expectations are at a disadvantage and risk losing business.
6 Best Practices to Improve Telco CX
1. Communicate Proactively
Some CSPs only engage with business to consumer (B2C) customers once a month, when their bill is due or overdue. More frequent, proactive communication–especially regarding service outages, or pending service appointment–are key to better B2C CX. For many CSPs, enhancing CX starts with leveraging digital engagement channels such as SMS, email, outbound IVR and in-app mobile—and coordinating communications across those channels.
Send proactive, personalized communications via the customer’s preferred channel (email, sms, etc.):
- Payment reminders
- Service outage notifications and updates
- Contract renewal
- Targeted offers (e.g., upgrade packages based on the customer’s data usage history)
2. Improve the Billing and Payment Process
Bill confusion and bill shock (receiving an unexpectedly higher bill) are frustrating for customers, who then call the contact center for an explanation. Organizations can reduce confusion and call center volume by designing a better bill that avoids 5 billing statement sins. A bill presentment tool like CSG Bill Explainer creates personalized bill explanations for each consumer, ensuring they understand month-to-month changes, taxes, and fees, significantly reducing bill shock.
3. Automate B2C Onboarding and Payment Processes
For CSPs launching new digital-only brands or mobile virtual network operators, the new customer expectation is for a completely automated customer experience. This means that all aspects of the customer journey, from onboarding to payment, should be self-service and easy to use.
CSPs can meet this expectation by providing automated tools and processes for their digitally savvy customers. For example, they can offer e-SIM activation and automated payment processing. They can also provide self-service support options, such as chatbots and knowledge bases.
The same expectations apply to traditional telecom providers. Customers expect to be able to manage their accounts and resolve issues quickly and easily without having to call a customer service representative.
4. Adopt Zero-touch (Automated) Partnering for B2B Enterprise Customers
The rise of 5G has led to a surge in B2B activity. The new technology opens new possibilities for businesses to monetize their products and services, and to partner with other businesses to create new solutions. The manual systems and processes traditionally used to onboard and market new products and services can be time and labor-intensive. Instead, CSPs should automate the entire service lifecycle—from partner and product onboarding to Configure Price, Quote (CPQ), order management, orchestration, partner management, assurance and billing.
Business owners expect a simple, automated process that involves visiting a website, choosing from a catalog of services, and getting a real-time quote. To make this possible, CSPs need to provide tools to their enterprise customers that improve communication with partners and end customers. Automating these processes allows communication to flow more smoothly across a wider network of participants.
5. Use Customer Journey Orchestration to Deliver Consistent, Personalized Experiences
Customers expect convenience, and that means businesses need to meet customers where they are (often on their phones). Many CSPs have added engagement channels one at a time. They may have started with an IVR system, then added an email platform followed by a chat platform. Because these systems are not integrated, sending a customer an outbound IVR call and an email requires two systems and two processes, without any coordination across that engagement. Creating a seamless omnichannel communication experience is the difference maker in driving personalized, consistent interactions.
Journey orchestration provides a layer above the channels themselves, to organize the conversations on a personalized level. A customer profile provides real-time information about the customer’s needs (based on data usage history) and preferences (such as communication channel). This knowledge allows CSPs to engage customers on their terms. For example, the decisioning system pauses the marketing campaign when a customer is in the middle of a service issue.
6. Use Artificial Intelligence to Transform CX
CSPs use AI to troubleshoot technical issues, optimize network performance, streamline operations and enhance CX. Machine learning algorithms can be used to personalize recommendations and promotions (such as cross-sell or up-sell) based on customers’ behavior patterns and preferences. AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants improve customer experience and satisfaction by providing immediate, human-like responses to questions or concerns, 24/7.
Large language models (LLMs) that serve as the foundation for generative AI are going to dramatically shift how customers interact with businesses by automating contact center conversations (via inbound IVR and inbound chat). LLMs need to be tailored to the specific industries they support. For telecom, this means ensuring that they have the knowledge and context to provide relevant responses and information that will help customers achieve their desired outcomes. Pairing an LLM with journey orchestration can guide customers toward the next best action, or ensure they are receiving relevant feedback as events take place.
CSG’s telecommunications solutions deliver innovative 5G and digital services over your organization’ network, or with partners. Our business support systems (BSS), partner management, billing, and CX platforms make it easy to connect with B2C and B2B customers and deliver exceptional experiences that boost retention.