It's 1993 and your family wants to see a late-night showing of Jurassic Park. You all walk to the taxi stand, find a cab and then set off to your favorite cinema. After lining up for tickets and finally reaching the counter, you learn the house is almost full for this showing.
Annoyed and frustrated, you now must either separate from family members to watch the dinosaurs, figure out nearby alternate plans from a local newspaper or by wandering around or just go home.
But really it's 2019. The digital transformation has completely changed how all businesses run, including movie theaters. Interactions between businesses and customers are now, literally, in the buyers' hands.
All it takes is the touch of a finger to select the movie you want to watch, whenever you want to see it. Choose where you want to sit in the cinema and pay then and there. Moreover, you can book an Uber, Lyft or a more local-based ride-share company like Careem to transport you. Cinemas now use big data and analytics to keep you digitally engaged. They know the movie genre you like so they include trailers of an upcoming movie or sequel the research suggests you will like using an app or by texting you the YouTube link.
To further build loyalty and give certain customers a feeling of being special, theaters may share a trailer that's not even generally available yet. These previews may be accompanied by certain discounts if viewers book in advance. Of course, the movie ads within the app already create monetization, brand buzz and awareness for the production companies.
Digital channels not only make it easier to do business. They also make it more convenient for customers, saving many costs associated with so-called traditional channels.
Starring in telecom
This is especially important in telecom, where profit margins decrease every year and churn can rise -- especially if subscribers care only about price. It is not enough to only deliver quality services to customers. Moreover, applying even the best pricing techniques will only provide you with a temporary solution. Therefore, to gain competitive advantage you must use digitization bundled with big data analytics to keep customers engaged -- this goes both for your internal and external customers.
Since 2016 -- a mere two years -- customer service channels' use of voice declined 11% and the use of non-voice channels (such as chat, text, messaging apps and chat-bots) has increased 16%, according to the 2018 Aspect Consumer Experience Index.
For external customers, that means you're not only offering them next-best offers, but you are also doing so as a real-time engagement -- suggesting this service, solution or product set when (or just before) they need it most. After all, you would not recommend customers buy voice and data roaming when they are ensconced at home for the foreseeable future; rather you would make that offer when you know customers are going abroad. Compared with traditional methods, managing customer service interventions through digital channels such as self-learning chat-bots saves service providers money, but it also can save customers' time, hence creating convenience and satisfaction for all parties.
Consumer-reported interaction with intelligent assistants has grown 39% since 2016 and Millennial interaction has increased 64%, the Aspect study found. By 2020, only 15% of all customer interactions will involve a human agent. Yes, that's right: a whopping 85% of these interactions will be handled without a person. By 2022, chat-bots and natural language processing (NLP) will save companies about
$8 billion per year in customer support costs, according to Juniper Research.
For internal customers, CSPs now have the perfect opportunity to keep employees digitally engaged -- a move that increases employee satisfaction, motivation, productivity and retention rate. Engagement comes in many shapes and formats and service providers should deliver multiple modes to appeal to the spectrum of employees. They can, for example, an app that easily lets employees apply for leave or guides them to a digital platform where they can share ideas or voice concerns. It may also be a digital web library where employees can access online courses for self-learning and improvement. It may also incorporate personal touches, like giving workers an easy, fun way to congratulate colleagues on birthdays, births or weddings and offer them gifts such as discounts on local restaurants or services.
As Richard Branson rightly said: "Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients."
Service providers must introduce more digital channels, promote and encourage usage of these channels by customers and employees, and keep subscribers digitally engaged throughout the customer journey by effectively using these channels.
Join Attique Tahir and other industry executives -- including Mahindra Herath, group chief planning & digital officer of Sri Lanka Telecom; Fahmi Pahlevi, chief technology officer of Indosat Ooredoo; Agung Enriko, principal expert of IoT at PT Telkom Indonesia; Winn Voravuthikunchai, chief data scientist at Telenor Digital Asia, and David Sunil, regional director of IoT (India and ASEAN Region) at AT&T -- during Broadband World Forum Asia. The annual event will be held May 7 and 8 at the Avani Riverside Hotel in Bangkok.
— Attique Tahir is a senior marketing professional and accomplished leader in telecommunications industry. He has 11 years' experience in telecom and two years in the advertising sector. Currently Tahir heads the Customer Value Management department at PTCL (Etisalat Pakistan). Follow the telco on on Twitter or connect with Tahir on LinkedIn at @attique-tahir-173b014.