5G industry news

Customer Experience in the age of 5G

  • 4 minute read
  • Published by Elizabeth Coyne on 26 Mar 2020
  • Last modified 30 Mar 2020
An intense focus on radically improving customer experience (CX) is shaping communications service providers’ (CSPs’) business strategies worldwide. From reorganization and digital transformation to big data initiatives and adoption of new technology around 5G, CX has become a focal point of effort, investment and performance evaluation.

A recent TM Forum survey of CSPs showed that reasons for this are no surprise: market disruption, a decline in traditional revenues, incursion of new competitors, changing expectations of customers and the need to reduce operating costs all contribute. The overall goal many CSPs share is to reorient their entire business toward their customers, making better CX paramount and a near obsession with measurement and performance evaluation central to every activity.

Drivers and goals

The primary reasons CSPs cite for focusing on CX transformation are reducing costs, increasing operational efficiency and strengthening brand. Nearly a third of respondents said reducing costs and increasing efficiency is the most significant factor driving their (or their customers’) CX programs.

CX driversInterviews with CSP executives reveal that these factors are on equal footing. In fact, operators are reorganizing, transforming and enhancing CX, reskilling IT organizations, and infusing the entire business with a focus on CX metrics.

This will help them not only strengthen relationships with customers, but also reduce costs, increase efficiency, grow revenue, become more agile and innovative, and pursue opportunities in new markets.

While survey respondents cite complexity and internal resistance to change among the greatest barriers to CX transformation, these are acknowledged. CSPs are taking steps to eliminate internal silos, reorder team structures and link every employee’s remuneration to CX metrics.

Who’s in charge?

A telling sign of this commitment to eliminate organizational and cultural barriers is that nearly 70% of respondents report having at least one executive-­level owner for CX, while 85% have an owner for the practice overall, if not technically at the executive level.

 CX improvement activities run the gamut from transformation of IT support systems to large­scale CX measurement programs. Omnichannel experiences have become table stakes, and personalization is on the rise, particularly for business-­to­-consumer (B2C) divisions within CSPs.

In the business­-to-­business (B2B) realm, substantial reorganization has occurred to put it on an equal footing with B2C. Tactically, CSPs have worked to provide B2B customers and support agents with a single console view of all customers’ activities – from the network through to service performance, ordering, trouble ticketing and billing. Digital CX is more mature in the B2C realm, however, than for the more complex and ecosystem­-focused B2B domain.

CX is also a focal point for adoption of new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and data science skillsets. Operators are applying AI and machine learning not only to CX personalization and marketing, but also to organizational learning and data-­driven decision making that informs customer-­centric action and aims to make it more proactive if not predictive in both B2C and B2B groups. As chatbots become more intelligent, they are also factor increasingly in frontline customer support.

Looking ahead

CSPs have gained substantial momentum around transforming and improving CX and are beginning to see positive results. There is a widespread understanding, however, that both may be never-­ending processes. There are many layers to the onion: While initial transformations have focused on implementing digital-­first customer experience capabilities, legacy systems often must still be reconciled, refreshed or retired.

When it comes to consumers, CSPs are beginning to shift their focus to ongoing improvement, leveraging Agile DevOps practices including continuous integration, delivery and testing, but for B2B markets, they are still working to power internal sales and third­-party reseller channels with a digital CX.

For more information on customer experience in the digital world, check out TM Forum’s latest free report: Future Customer Experience: From Digital to Omnichannel. This report analyzes the drivers for and challenges to improving CX, with special focus on digital CX, omnichannel, personalization, retail shops, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), and transformation of legacy systems to support digital CX.