Last updated: Personalization and telcos: One size does not fit all anymore

Personalization and telcos: One size does not fit all anymore


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Working with telcos around the world for the last 10 years, it was impossible to miss the recurrence of a couple of buzzwords, namely personalization and omnichannel and multi-channel. It was scarce at first, but you can find these trends everywhere nowadays. Why are they so important?

Can telcos eventually do without personalization? Could they do without omnichannel?

Well, they could and they did for a while, but with Apple and Google running things, they can’t exactly ignore personal touch anymore.

Apple introduced the iPhone with its perfect blend of everything you need in one device, including location services and, later on, push notifications – key ingredients for strong personalization.

One cannot help but think back and realize that these features have been there for telcos all along, when they were able to trace locations through their GSM cells, and send push messages in the form of SMS.

So why is it only now that personalization matters?

Well, for one, competition is fiercer than ever and the scene does become more crowded with ISVs and even energy providers entering the mobile battleground. Apple and Google are just referees for now. However, they are getting closer to crossing the red line and becoming players themselves.

The price battle is a losing game in the end, and the quality of service will be the what dictates the winners.

Infrastructure matters, but you can only have high service quality with strong, personalized communication, delivered via the channel that the client expects. A large customer base is a huge asset for telcos, and they desperately need to keep it.

It used to be that telco operators were slow-moving giants, adopting commerce models that were first proven in retail, but now they’re forced to become the pioneers of new customer engagement models.

They need to embrace the shift from mass marketing to personalized targeting and start leveraging their customer insight and real-time interaction abilities across the entire customer lifecycle.

Providing the right service to the right customer at the right time (be it a simple real-time option to help keep costs under control, or a product recommendation when trying to incentivize the customer) is a crucial factor in maximizing ARPU and retaining customers.

Despite having been identified as an emerging e-commerce trend since the early part of the decade, it is only now, in the context of omnichannel sales and commerce, that the disruptive potential of personalization is truly recognized. Multi- and cross-channel are fine, but refer only to the customer point of view and the touch points made available to him.

To implement omnichannel, telcos need a very strong technical platform.

Given a strong platform there will be a paradigm shift in the organization and processes. No more silos for self-care, e-commerce, mobile, social, but rather a structure focusing on reaching the customer, keeping in close contact with them cross-channel and, eventually, converting them on the channel they feel most comfortable with.

The main revenue stream for telcos is still the services they provide, rather than devices, merchandise or anything else. The customer has to be constantly engaged throughout the duration of the contract in order to retain him despite the freedom of number portability. The engagement does not only need to be very targeted and personal but also, more importantly, it has to be carried out across the channel(s) preferred by the customer.

While it all looks positive for customers, it’s the telcos that ultimately need to catch up and keep up with these new industry standards in the booming age of telecommunication services.

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Post written by Adrian Marcu
Head of Commerce Solutions, iQuest Group

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