The Way Forward for Telecoms

The telecommunications industry is facing a unique challenge right now in keeping people connected when communication and community are more important than ever. That means getting consumers the devices they need to stay connected while many retail stores are still closed.

Before retail shut-downs, 62% of consumers visited carrier stores to make purchases, according to Facebook research, largely because of the personalized support they received there. Now, without the ability to watch in-store demos, touch and experiment with products or chat with a sales rep, consumers might be more reluctant to make significant purchases.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to help customers feel more comfortable with online buying experiences moving forward. And telecom companies have what they need to make this happen—they just have to flex new muscles to get there. Here’s how:

1. Think like a disruptor

The telecom industry is no stranger to innovation and disruption. More than a century ago, it revolutionized communication, forever changing the way we work, live and relate to one another. The industry has continued to adapt to changing customer demands by embracing wireless communication, introducing internet connectivity and expanding mobile access.

Telecoms can now tap into their disruptor roots while looking toward the future. Companies that adopt a digital-first mentality, move quickly and scale have an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage in the new landscape.

The industry has already seen some telecom businesses lead the charge with new digital sales and service strategies, like offering game-changing 5G products, providing electronic SIM cards and launching all-digital platforms to cater to customers.

But staying competitive requires more than just innovation. Telecom companies could benefit from thinking more like digital subscription services. The strength of these services lies in customer retention rather than customer acquisition. Finding ways to upsell services, keep customers engaged and set themselves apart could help telecom brands get ahead.

2. Reimagine the customer experience

Telecom businesses now have the chance to meet customers where they are and give them the tools necessary to empower their purchasing decisions.

One way to do that is by partnering with social and tech companies. Telecom brands can use social networks to build awareness and connection through ads and provide information that helps facilitate their consumers’ decision-making processes.

Another area is customer interaction. A majority (70%)  of consumers surveyed globally by GWI reported spending more time on their smartphones since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak. Now, instead of waiting for customers to walk into a store, brands can empower their sales reps to check-in with customers on their favorite chat channels.

3. Lead with empathy and authenticity

From the Covid-19 pandemic to the tragic killing of George Floyd, the first half of 2020 has seen some of the most intense and traumatic events that your customers have likely ever witnessed. These events have also brought some of society’s most acute needs and inequalities to the surface, and many of your customers may be hurting emotionally, economically, or both.

As a telecom brand, you can put empathy and authenticity at the heart of everything you do by approaching innovation, service and brand strategy from a more human, solution-oriented place.

A good first step is centering your strategies around the needs of your customers, especially as they look to build community and connect with the people and causes they care about. Now is a great opportunity to ask for customer feedback, reevaluate company offerings and implement communication policies with sales and service reps that prioritize compassion above all else. Telecom companies can lead by example.

They can also reexamine their value propositions to ensure they’re adequately addressing customer concerns and contributing to something bigger than themselves. Research shows consumers tend to feel more connected to brands that are mission-driven and have core values that align with their own.

“Any brand that can differentiate itself from a value perspective, from a messaging perspective, that’s the brand that’s going to win,” said Noah Choi, an industry manager of mobile and connectivity at Facebook.

As the world moves toward a primarily digital landscape, telecom companies have a big responsibility to keep people connected. The good news is they have all the tools necessary to do it. Many telecom brands have already been working to accelerate digital transformation, strengthen customer service and lead with empathy. With continued innovation and an even greater focus on customer needs, I’m hopeful this is only the beginning of what the industry can achieve.