What mobile service providers can learn from Amazon, Google and Uber

Today’s popular internet services, like Amazon, Google, or Uber, have established a winning customer experience template. Wireless service providers like Verizon, AT&T or T-Mobile, strive to provide a comparable experience to their customers but are often falling short of that goal. Carriers’ engagement and interaction with their customers on their mobile devices is often lacking, if not flawed, relative to today’s expectation.

In general, mobile operators tend to lack immediacy and transparency in their service. While they market new, on-device customer experiences, these services often do not provide the real-time and contextual aspect of a true digital experience. Informing customers about their current usage and active plans is table stakes, even though mobile operators have the means to provide a much more transparent experience. Uber, for example, flipped the standard taxi model by enabling customers to review the cost of a ride upfront instead of after the ride is completed. Similarly, on Amazon (or almost any online service), buyers are informed of how much their purchase will cost before making the order.

This upfront certainty is still lacking from mobile carriers. For example, most mobile customers don’t have access to information about how much service or data they consume or what the upfront cost of an action is, such as an international call. The details only become clear after the bill arrives, leading to unwanted “bill shock.” However, with modern tools and real-time capabilities, carriers could dramatically change the way they interact with customers.

When roaming internationally, for example, carriers could send an on-device “welcome” message to inform customers about appropriate plans, ultimately saving them the time of organizing a plan before their trip. When a customer is making an international call that is not part of their monthly plan, carriers could also notify and allow them to select the appropriate plan and cost for their approval. With this approach, bill shock would simply not occur.

It’s no surprise that a comparatively low 25 percent of consumers consider themselves loyal to their wireless carrier, but we see much higher loyalty for services like Amazon Prime, which has an astonishing 96 percent renewal rate. In order to attain success in the current technology economy, carriers must develop an engagement strategy that is modern, immediate, has the customers best interest in mind and provides all the necessary information in real-time.

This requires a full 360° view of the customer in order to properly support them with the information and actions required at the point of intent. If data runs low mid-month, why not inform and allow the customer to purchase an extra boost of GB’s directly on-device to bridge the gap? It should not be necessary for the customer to call customer service and face a probable push to commit to an unnecessary upgrade of the service plan. In principle, the carrier knows the situational status of their customer based on the context and service use and thus should be able to leverage this in real-time. Unfortunately, the reality is often different due to disjointed legacy IT systems.

Carriers should look to today’s internet players not just to understand this advanced customer experience, but also to adopt similar vertically integrated, cloud-based technology that enables them to bring these real-time digital experiences to life. This is in stark contrast to the traditional telecom approach of separate and distinct (and often pre-defined) functions with their own disjointed data sets that require heavy and custom integration to support what’s often a limited set of possible use-cases. Like today’s major technology players, carrier IT architecture should be driven by real-time data and function in sub-ordination to the customer experience.

It’s no secret that carriers are looking to compete beyond the traditional “network, price, and data”. In order to differentiate themselves, they must adopt engagement and technology practices on par with major tech companies like Uber or Amazon. Ultimately, this means delivering a proactive, real-time experience that offers transparency and control for the customer. This will, in turn, build customer trust, the ultimate measure of success for carriers looking to make a name for themselves in the competitive landscape. 

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