Not on the high street?


Over the past two decades, the communications industry has been a driving force in creating today’s digital world. High-speed internet, pervasive Wi-Fi coverage and a move toward 5G cellular networks have transformed technology and society as we know it.

Previously, I was a senior executive for several European telcos. Therefore, I know that the industry hasn’t changed as quickly as the world around it. From a revenue perspective, sales still depend heavily on high street stores. In these stores, consumers can browse the latest handsets, set-top boxes and routers, and buy top-up vouchers for prepaid phones.

Hidden Insights - Not on the high street
Hidden Insights - Not on the high street

That’s a big issue in the post-COVID-19 world. As of June 2020, many countries (including the UK) are still in strict lockdown. As a result, nonessential retail stores are closed. Even when restrictions are lifted and stores open, there’s no guarantee that high streets will bounce back. Consumers are likely to remain wary of crowded streets and busy shops. And, many may decide that online shopping is safer and more convenient.

As a result, in both the short and midterm, the battle for market share will shift toward web and social media channels. Providers who can offer their customers the best digital experience are likely to come out on top. This presents a challenge. Although many companies talk about their omnichannel capabilities, customers still often encounter siloed processes, fragmented communications and inconsistent service.

Making omnichannel work

To make omnichannel strategies work, telcos need to accelerate their adoption of digital technologies. They can use technology to improve decision making at every stage of the customer journey. Stages include analysing customer value, credit and fraud risk at the moment of onboarding; employing propensity models and recommendation engines for smarter marketing; using network analytics to improve service quality; and fixing faults before customers notice any disruption.

At SAS, we call this concept Intelligent Decisioning. This concept uses traditional statistical models, advanced machine learning and deep learning techniques to inform every aspect of decision making. We’ve seen many of our telco clients outsmart their competitors and win market share simply by using the data they already have to join the dots between the different aspects of their business. This allows them to deliver truly end-to-end customer service via their digital channels.

Telstra is a great example. It uses analytics to calculate an estimated Net Promoter Score (NPS) for each of its 9 million customers every single day. Drawing on data from all areas of the business, Telstra can assess customer value, engagement and propensity to churn for each household. This leads to richer, more informed customer interactions. Take a look at this great case study and video about Telstra.

The way forward for telcos

The retail shutdown poses a serious threat to today’s telco business models. However, it also gives significant incentives to push digital transformation initiatives forward and adopt an intelligent decisioning strategy. But, the industry faces risks beyond those related to COVID-19. In the next two blog posts in this series, I’ll take a look at how intelligent decisioning can help telcos address network management and collections.

The right blend of data and digital technology will enhance decision making at every step in the customer journey. Click To Tweet

About Author

Matthieu Joosten

After finishing my PhD in comms sciences at City University London I worked as a strategy consultant, wholesale director and later as an IT director at a European telecom operator. Advised operators in the US, Middle East and Europe on their B2B, wholesale and digital strategies before joining SAS being the global industry leader for telecom and media industries.

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