For any organisation operating in the telecoms sector, seizing competitive advantage is a greater challenge now than ever before.

Consumers have an ever-expanding array of choice when it comes to products, and the omnichannel nature of modern shopping means that it can be difficult to stand out amongst all the noise. At the same time, rising inflation and continued economic uncertainty are contributing to a decrease in consumer confidence.

In order to overcome these challenges and ensure that they differentiate themselves from the competition, it is crucial that telcos embrace more innovative approaches to customer engagement and product selection, especially in a world where options such as quad-play bundles are making these processes increasingly complex. These approaches should be implemented in the here and now, well ahead of the advent of potentially disruptive technologies such as 5G.

In today’s environment, price, product, and quality are a given, so organisations need to do something else to make their mark. One way of achieving this is by prioritising ease when it comes to building a positive Customer Experience; the modern consumer is becoming more and more demanding in terms of the level of service and personalisation they expect, so it is vital that service providers are able to deliver this. At the same time, reducing misselling and propensity to call (PTC) – and therefore the need to deal with costly, unnecessary customer queries – is key here.

The evolving nature of the telecoms sector

When it comes to selling products, the telecoms sector has become considerably diverse and multi-faceted, as consumers look to take advantage of shopping through a range of channels. Online has become pervasive. Mobile offers an unrivalled level of convenience, and the not-too-distant prospect of 5G technology brings a great deal of promise.

Physical stores still hold an important place in the sales mix. While this evolution of telecoms has brought a much greater deal of choice to consumers, the researching, finding, and purchasing of a product can be a drawn-out process.

It is no longer sufficient to simply offer a wide-ranging, multichannel shopping experience without putting plenty of time into ensuring that the experience is easy, informative, and trouble-free. Omnichannel selling has immense potential, but it can only be a long-term success if purchasing is convenient enough that customers will keep coming back.

The same goes for 5G when it eventually becomes a reality: smooth, reliable connectivity is a powerful enabler of digital convergence across all sales channels, but there is much that retailers need to do right now to keep customer experiences fresh, informative and convenient.

Meeting the customer challenge

Any telco leader will recognise the importance of understanding the needs of customers. However, the modern consumer represents a new challenge, which cannot be effectively met without a fresh approach to easing the customer journey.

Firstly, the behaviour of consumers is being governed by the current climate of economic hardship and uncertainty. While unemployment in the UK is low, inflation is on the up and the lack of clarity around Brexit is having an adverse effect on consumer confidence. When this is combined with a shopping experience that is long-winded, difficult to understand, and lacking in personalisation, consumers are more than likely to be turned off from making purchases.

At the same time, the wide availability of technology and the proliferation of new purchasing channels has meant that the bar has been raised as far as customer expectations are concerned. Consumers demand simplicity and ease when browsing, selecting, and buying products, and expect at least a degree of personalisation when trying to navigate through a series of complex purchasing options.

As an example, research conducted by socPub discovered that 57 percent of mobile users would not recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site. If companies fail to provide this level of ease, prospective customers may leave a store or abandon a basket without spending any money, or they may be compelled to return products after being sold an item that fails to meet their needs.

Easing the complexities

So what can telecoms companies do to turn these complex purchases into simple journeys? One way to make a difference is by adopting technology designed to streamline the customer engagement experience and increase personalisation, by focusing on the needs of customers and providing recommendations to meet them. After all, research has shown that 94 percent of customers who reported low effort in purchasing expressed an intention to buy again, and 88 percent said they would increase their spending. This is where intelligent guided selling (IGS) has a part to play.

IGS works by prompting and guiding customers through a logical sequence of decisions, driving customer conversion and satisfaction by adding an extra element of theatre to the buying experience. The software makes intelligent, needs-based recommendations by combining data from CRM and loyalty systems, input from lifestyle assessments and business rules covering product criteria, margin, and stock information.

It can be easily integrated with an existing CRM system in order to link up with resources such as price comparisons and customer reviews, and can be employed through all sales channels.

Effectively, the technology significantly reduces the time and effort that customers need to invest in buying products, making them more likely to spend both in higher amounts and on more regular a basis, and reducing PTC and churn by ensuring that they always end up purchasing the right products and services. This represents a positive change that can be made in the present, ahead of new technologies such as 5G and the impact they will have on addressing challenges attached to enriching the Customer Experience.

Differentiating in a competitive world

To truly stand out in an environment where so many players are vying for supremacy, and where customers are facing a series of challenges to their confidence, telcos need to do what they can to take the customer engagement experience to a new level. Offering all the products in the world will mean nothing if consumers are not given that little bit extra to guide them through the process and reduce the amount of effort involved in making a purchase.

Misselling and PTC represent a burden that any telco should be keen to avoid. Real-time, needs-based personalisation through intelligent guided selling is key to this endeavour; by increasing this, repeat purchases and long-term customer loyalty are much more likely to become a reality.


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