4 trends that will shape the communications industry in 2019

Kevin Billings,

What does 2019 have in store for Communications Service Providers?

Communication Service Providers (CSPs) will face a number of challenges in 2019. With 5G on the horizon, CSPs are analyzing new commercial broadband opportunities and the new service and operational needs that go hand-in-hand with 5G expansion. They’re also looking for better ways to manage ever-increasing complexities in their organizations, as well as the most effective ways to respond to changing customer expectations.

Below we outline the key industry trends for the coming year and provide our background thoughts and views on what CSPs need to do to prepare for and take advantage of them.

1. Customer expectations are rising exponentially

Digital disruptors like Amazon and Uber are shaping customers’ expectations for lightning-fast, real-time, customer-centric experiences. According to Accenture Strategy’s 2017 Global Consumer Pulse Research report, 61% of customers stopped doing business with at least one company because of a poor customer experience. To meet and exceed rising customer expectations, CSPs need to deliver personalized interactions at the moment of need and have the flexibility to do this anytime, across any channel.

AI-based customer decisioning tools are an essential component to creating an individualized engagement experience for every customer. Real-time, omni-channel AI and end-to-end robotic automation can be combined to streamline the customer experience – whether it be in upselling and retaining customers or troubleshooting issues– allowing CSPs to meet/exceed customer demands.

Take action: Take a proactive approach to customer service. Leverage digital tools like natural language processing, sentiment analysis, machine learning, AI, and centralized decisioning to analyze and detect events and patterns in customer data. In an industry with 100% customer penetration, a superior service experience is a critical competitive advantage.

2. CSPs are getting more complex and competitive (and struggling to simplify)

Complexity is increasing for CSPs. Driven by mergers (e.g., Sprint & T-Mobile in U.S.), new products, new technologies, and competitive threats from new players, CSPs have more products to support and an ever-increasing number of siloed systems with which to integrate – magnifying pain points. Customer service is becoming overwhelmed by complexity in both interactions with live advisors or through self-serve experience channels. If you let your operational pain points translate into roadblocks for meeting customer expectations you risk customer churn.

Break down these silos with an operational layer that helps integrate the data locked in each, and use AI-based predictive and adaptive analytics to help guide service agents to the best action for each situation. By presenting agents and customers with only the required data to complete that customer journey (e.g., which bundle of products and services is best for a customer), you can simplify engagement and deliver meaningful outcomes. Guiding service agents in this way, and matching journeys which may have commenced in another channel such as the website, creates customer empathy.

Take action: Adopt open technologies and speed integrations with robotics. Use an AI-driven customer brain to make highly complex decisions and determine the best way to communicate them to your customers. Plus, use automated, end-to-end case management to help orchestrate enterprise complexity.

3. 5G will drive massive shifts in customer engagement

5G is the next major advancement for the communications industry with three new categories of service emerging: enhanced broadband, IoT (Internet of Things) applications, and ultra-reliable low latency services. From an operational perspective, 5G will require a massive densification of the network with 5 to 10 times more cell towers, spurring a fundamental shift in CSP operations. From a customer engagement perspective, proactive, digital care will become critical for viability.

Smart cities, smart homes, and driverless cars connected through 5G will bring great advances in technology, data, and convenience, but will also increase risk and liability for CSPs. Today’s consumers get frustrated with dropped calls and TV outages. Tomorrow, if the network that supports driverless cars or heavy machinery goes out, lives and property could potentially be at risk. While some of these new services may not be readily available for some months or years, CSPs will need to have in place enterprise systems that can handle the increasing complexity of operational processes and can integrate operations with customer engagement to anticipate potential problems and orchestrate customer outreach.

5G will also affect CSP engagement models. Some services will be sold directly to customers (B2C), but others will be sold through partnerships with companies like automakers (B2B2C).

Take action: Managing the rollout and maintenance of a more complex network will be a costly endeavor. Use a Digital Process Automation approach to automate operations from end-to-end while providing visibility of network implementations and maintenance processes. Manage customer relationships with the help of a centralized brain to improve customer engagement experience in the near term and ready the customer base for future new 5G services.

4. Industry transformation is the new normal

CSPs must transform to stay relevant over the next 10 years. With digital natives threatening their core business, CSPs must create agile environments with technology platforms that can support current systems and what’s coming next. As the pace of industry transformation increases, CSPs will need to be able to modify enterprise apps and introduce new apps quickly to keep up with operational and customer engagement needs. As a result, more and more CSPs will look to collaborations between their citizen-developers and traditional technical developers to build and deploy applications. As analyst firm Gartner recognizes, “citizen development is fundamental to digital transformation.” Low-code, visual-based application development platforms will help CSPs drive agility and transformation throughout their organizations.

Take action: End-to-end automation helps quickly close execution gaps and drive cost out of the business. Accelerate the incorporation of low-code development tools so you can more easily capture and apply the front-line knowledge of your customer service and operational people as your sales and service processes needs change.

The right digital tools can help you stay ahead of the trends and be ready for change.

CSPs can stay ahead of these trends and embrace the challenges they bring by talking to Pega about how we enable unified customer engagement and digital process automation. With Pega AI and robotics, the world’s largest CSPs transform their customer experience, every time, on every channel. We help them:

A number of CSPs aren’t waiting for the future, they’re taking action now – and seeing real results: Like Sprint, who is leveraging real-time data and personalized offers to reduce churn by 10 to 20%; or TalkTalk, who simplified billing and order processes with self-service channels and saw a 40% reduction in early lifecycle complaints.

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Tags

  • Industry: Communications Service Providers
  • Topic: Digital Transformation
  • Challenge: Customer Engagement
  • Product Area: Customer Service

About the Author

As Director and Communications Industry Principal, Kevin Billings, applies his deep knowledge of business development, digital product development and go-to-market deployment, market strategy, and digital transformation/change to help Pega’s communications and technology sector clients achieve their DX goals.