As we come full circle on the topic of Enhancing Customer Care we get to one of the most challenging and crucial aspects of the Customer Lifecycle: Discover.
Long before Retention and Customer Service, Use, Bill and Pay, and Purchase, comes Discover. An operator may have the best infrastructure backbone, the best community involvement, or the best Netflix ratings on the market; but all of that is meaningless if nobody has signed up to the services — or understands why they should.
The Incognito Operator
The Discover phase covers the customers’ experiences as they learn about what services are offered and determine to purchase one operators’ services over another’s. This phase can be conceptually isolated into a discrete set of factors which includes promotional; offers, value and feedback, top of awareness, online presence, traditional advertising, community, and support. Based on feedback from our customers, it was generally accepted that advertising — be it word of mouth from the community, online, or traditional advertising — only contributes to 25% of the impact to the Discover phase. This is rather ironic given the amount of advertisements we see every day on our transit ride home from work, promotional mail we get every long weekend, or advertisements on news sites from our local carriers and more recently on social media applications like Facebook and Instagram. What’s important to remember is that the delivery medium itself is not the primary driver of the discovery process, it is the promotions and offers which ultimately have the largest impact during this beginning phase of a customer’s lifecycle.
It’s rare to see an advertisement for a local telco that is merely advertising basic services; it is advertising a new plan, price, or promotional service that attempts to entice the user to sign up. The trickiest part of this equation is that in major cities across the world the marketplace is already saturated, meaning service providers not only need to entice a customer to subscribe to new services, they also need the customer to break an existing agreement and leave (or simply not re-sign with) their current service provider. How does having the ability to optimize every stage of the Customer Lifecycle help?
A Unified Strategy to Customer Lifecycle Optimization
Each part of an organization is involved in their own unique and vital ways during the different phases of the Customer Lifecycle.
In most CPSs, the Product Marketing group often drives the promotions; however, just as when the Engineering Department performs a node split to deal with capacity planning needs, the CMO similarly needs to model the total cost analysis for a promotion or product offering. Most operators have solutions for monitoring usage consumption or providing policy enforcement run by Network Operations teams, but prior to a Customer Service Representative making changes to a service plan, such as increasing a customer’s Bronze service plan to 25Mbps or eliminating monthly quotas, a Network Engineer should model the impact to the outside plant, understand where there will be congestion, and identify the work effort and costs, such as node splits, to be considered when rolling out the new service. Such big data capacity planning solutions will make easy work of the ask; making it easier to plan for a new promotion. Furthermore, if an issue occurs along the way of service fulfillment, Service and Retention teams should be on hand to resolve issues and satisfy customer requests. When prepared, a sudden planned increase of bandwidth loads can be managed and customers will welcome the new services purchased, but only if Billing and Payment processes are transparent and run smoothly.
This is just one example of the unified approach to optimizing the complete customer lifecycle for new services. If done correctly, positive experiences will greatly ease the Discover process because the customer knows what kind of quality expectations they can rely on from you, the service provider. How are operators achieving this unified approach to enhancing the customer lifecycle?
Here’s a brief recap of every stage we’ve discussed in the series on Enhancing Customer Care:
- We spoke of how we could make purchasing a frictionless activity, asking how might an operator deploy a new service or promotion frictionlessly? What factors need to be considered when creating a new service tier, upgrading the plan speeds, or eliminating usage caps?
- We covered optimizing the billing and payment process, giving insight on how to ensure accurate accounting with reliable data collection and policy enforcement to avoid overbilling while at the same time staying ahead of service trends with alternative service models that fit dynamic customer needs.
- We covered the broadband experience and the outside plant, answering questions about constructing a healthy service infrastructure based on real data and bandwidth consumption metrics to ensure that subscribers get an optimal experience when they use the services they are paying for.
- And we highlighted the importance of customer service and retention efforts, providing details on how operators are proactively resolving service issues before a subscriber is negatively impacted, and how to solve service issues at rapid speed when they do occur.
The key point to optimizing all of these stages is understanding that at every moment of the customer journey, a unified effort with a strong software backbone is required to manage and provide exceptional customer experiences that lead to optimal Discover efforts.
Embracing Unique Customer Needs
Each customer is different and each operator has different types of customer, often with service plans catering to the shared characteristics and needs of these customers. When creating new promotions or offers to help Discover efforts, it’s important to understand the value drivers for each of these groups. One customer might have a family who uses multiple Netflix streams in the evening, one might be a light OTT user, while another might be a hardcore gamer who live streams their games to YouTube or Twitch. Our connected world is becoming more and more reliant on broadband services. These new services and applications are consuming higher and higher amounts of bandwidth. Understanding the nuances and usage patterns can help identify packages tailored for the subscriber. As always, data is key, and the service provider has to obtain accurate data to unlock the potential for delivering targeted tailored services. Just as with understanding the impact to the network, operators need to be agile — with the ability to create new packages in the service catalog and to enable intuitive self service so subscribers can order new packages on demand.
The days of bronze, silver, and gold are gone — soon customers will be able to personalize their services with limitless permutations. That level of customization increases brand loyalty, product stickiness and customer satisfaction.
How to Stay Top of Mind
This takes me to one of the most impactful components in the Discover phase: top of mind awareness. In the age of customer retention, operators know it is an outright battle for customers their attention. If someone is on the market for a service provider, it is vital for that provider to use an omni channel strategy; where the onboarding and purchasing stages can be communicated and conducted across multiple communication mediums. The omni channel is so important it was a featured track at the recent TMForum in Nice. Using the various mediums to continue the messaging is key to the successful conversion; having a full picture of the customer enables the operator to deliver the ideal personalized service for the current needs of that customer, no matter what stage they are at during the customer lifecycle.
As I wrote in the first sentence of this series on Enhancing Customer Care: “Customer care is an extremely complex challenge.” Reflecting back on everything we’ve covered since then, it’s easy to see why. However, that doesn’t mean the challenge of customer care can’t be overcome.
With a unified approach, operators all over the world are lower operational costs, smoothing workflows, deploying cutting-edge services and optimization solutions, gaining more traction with better discovery efforts, and most importantly, creating happier, loyal, customers.
Learn more about enhancing customer care at every stage of the customer lifecycle by getting in touch with Incognito.