The [NON] Surprise Trends of 2016: Customer Experience and Big Data

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When I think about what the top trends are for CMO’s of telecommunications companies in 2016, it’s not surprising that once again it seems to be all about the customer experience – it’s front and center once again in 2016. And it’s got a strong lead as a priority, even amidst the overall disruption in the industry and the nimble competition that is arising from all angles.

A recent Forrester blog entitled “The Future of Telcos Remains Precarious,” says that telcos need to move customer experience and engagement initiatives center-stage – as the top board-level priority. This urgency of this philosophy is underscored in a recent report, 2016 Digital Trends, from Econsultancy, a research firm for marketers and ecommerce professionals. The report, which was done in association with Adobe, dives right into the importance of the customer experience with these statements in the forward:

“It’s official. Customer experience is in charge. In 2014, it emerged as a top priority for marketers. In 2015, it gained momentum. Now in 2016, it’s so important, it pulls other priorities into its orbit.”

The report, which is based on a survey of 7,000 marketing, digital, and ecommerce professionals, lists customer experience as one of the top three “exciting opportunities” for the upcoming year. The other two are creating compelling content for digital experiences, and data-driven marketing that focuses on the individual.

Telcos have the edge in the battle for the customer

While more nimble players like What’s App, WeChat, and Netflix gain headway in the monetization of compelling service offerings, one thing remains steadfast. As a telco CMO, you have one key advantage and it’s a mighty one. Because telcos have a much deeper, more entrenched relationship with customers than any of these other competitors, you have access to more vital data – and this is an advantage you can exploit.

That means that you can build better, more dynamic customer experiences than anyone else. You can use the vast amounts of available data and create a highly personalized engagement model based on micro-segmentation.

Just how important is this? In the above mentioned survey, data-driven marketing was one of the top three priorities for 90% of the respondents and they say it will continue to be important over the next five years. Exactly how important? The report says data is the underpinning of any customer interaction, from advertising through service, and that without a mastery of data, [the respondents] cannot provide the experiences they aspire to.

A recent McKinsey&Company article, Price wars to profits: Operator actions in times of marketing uncertainty, shares why telco CMOs, in particular, should care about this. The article states that use of advanced analytics on customer data can yield major improvements, including a 10% uplift in the sales hit rate.

In this competitive-driven market, this kind of increase is business could be a major milestone.

Are the possibilities beyond your abilities?

The Econsultancy report introduces the concept of “possibilities outstripping ability,” where there is available data, but no infrastructure in place to fully maximize it. In fact, over 40% of the respondents say that they are struggling in this area. Their key challenges include the right technology and tools; access and control over customer and marketing data; and the process tools for carrying out a strategy.

If your company has not yet invested in marketing automation tools, data integration, and data analytics, then achieving any kind of uplift in business will be a challenge.

Let’s take a look at what a few of the telco CMOs see as key in helping to build the best customer experience possible.

  • Integrate all your data first. Telcos typically have silos of customer data on different systems, rendering it useless. Maarten Stramrood, director of online and segment marketing at Ziggo says that “in trying to disrupt the market in order to keep growing, Ziggo’s first step was to pull all data together from available sources.” He added that combining all the sources provides the company with new perspectives and insights that can be used for campaigns. It also gave the company more flexibility and the ability to work in a more agile way.
  • Use analytics and technology tools. Tor-Arne Fosser, vice president of marketing at Telenor, says that as digital marketing become more complex, specialized, and automated, there is a need for marketing resources with strong analytical backgrounds and understanding of technology. His company is working on offering its customers a more personalized and friction-free way to buy its services. To do so, it’s utilizing cross-functional capabilities such as customer profiling, analytics, audience targeting, and campaign management. Another key tool is the agile ability in go-to-market processes to respond to changes in real time.
  • Use Big Data to build the ultimate experience. Today’s market is a battle between telecom providers and over-the-top vendors to provide the ultimate customer experience. The pressure is intense and there is a real sense of urgency. Today’s marketers are thinking differently and taking a fresh look at what success looks like. By leveraging the massive amount of data available to them, telecom providers have the opportunity to deliver a highly personalized experience. Consumers have proven many times over that they are willing to pay more for a customized service and have a greater sense of loyalty. By putting big data to work, companies can create a unique competitive advantage in a highly disrupted industry.

What are you doing to improve your customers’ experience?

Join the conversation here at The Digital Future to discuss the latest trends in the telecommunications industry.

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