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Perspectives

Keeping it Simple in Perpetuity (Part 5)

2017-08-08


From connected technologies to reimagined video to the in-store experience, communications services providers must future-proof their business without overwhelming customers.

Our previous installments covered why customers crave simplicity, examples of such simplicity, what it takes to make your products and processes simple and how to get started delivering simplicity to cut costs and customer churn.

If you’ve made life easier for your existing customers, congratulations. But you also need to keep simplicity top of mind as you build tomorrow’s game-winning offering, whether those are over the top video services, connected homes or just a better retail experience.

Here are some tips for keeping simplicity front and center as you “future proof” your business in three emerging areas.

Connected technologies.

Our survey showed these services (such as connected home, car and health) have increased in importance, with over 70% of 18–49 year olds finding them very desirable. Note also that about 44% of consumers using mobile services believe that satisfaction with their provider will increase if they provided more access to connected services. After reliability and data privacy, ease of use contributes the most to satisfaction with such services.

  • Steps to take: Understand what works, and doesn’t work, with current connected technology deployments through in-depth, on-site observations of how customers use these services. Focus not only on the technology, but whether your customers know how to take advantage of all its bells and whistles with the least possible effort.  At every step of the design process, work from the perspective of the person that will use them, taking into account all ages and skill levels.

For one leading CSP, we conducted ethnographic research to validate and refine their roadmap for connected home technologies, and identified concepts for high-value, emerging products and services. We helped match customers’ needs with the CSP’s technology pipeline to prioritize investments in disruptive products and services which enable long-term revenue growth, developed prototypes to enable rapid go-to-market enablement for  high value products  and services, and quickly converted those prototypes into scalable market-ready products and services.

Video service, reimagined.

Pay TV is here to stay, but with some changes. While our survey showed there has been a significant increase in the percent of consumers planning to cancel their traditional PTV service in the next six months (25% to 40% since 2013) far fewer are actually cutting the cord. The barriers to such “cord cutting” that increased the most year over year are poor quality/service disruption with “over the top” services, missing live events, and difficulty setting up and self-troubleshooting. One sign of hope for the future of pay TV: Millennials told us that pay TV even edged out high speed Internet in importance to their everyday life, cited three times more often than mobile.

  • Steps to take: Tap continued interest in pay TV with personalized services and offers. Analyze the viewer’s past history to suggest new programming and, especially, live events.  For example, customers we surveyed aged 18–34 and 35–49 are most often concerned with missing live events and confusing alternate equipment and services. This makes them good candidates for personalized offers of live events, and simpler explanations of the services you offer and the equipment required for them. Look for ways to offer instant access to your own “over the top” services across multiple channels, such as a mobile Web or over the Web.

Drive “next generation” personalized customer experiences.

We know from our survey that customers want personal attention and easy fixes to their problems. Look for the high-return areas where a better understanding of a customer’s previous purchases or interactions could help you increase their satisfaction, speed their transaction or lead to increased sales.

For example, if a customer has repeatedly  asked about the highest Internet speed available in their area and when you will support the latest Wi-Fi protocol, flag them as ‘tech savvy’ and proactively alert them when you boost your network speed or new equipment is available. You could even offer them an appointment at their local store for a tutorial on the new services, with the opportunity of upselling or finding a new product or service for them. If a customer has reported multiple service issues over the past few months, but no problems were found on the network, proactively offer them new equipment or to send a tech to resolve the issue.

Each of these is an opportunity to   elevate a transaction to a connection, exceed the customer’s expectations and most importantly learn more about their needs and how you can better meet them,

  • Steps to take: Observe customers “in the wild” to understand their stated and unstated requirements and create innovative, more pleasant experiences for them.

    For example, we are working with a client to increase sales and customer satisfaction in their retail stores. After careful observation and quantitative analysis we found customers did not feel welcome in the store and were waiting outside until their turn with an agent. This resulted in low conversion rates and customers leaving before their turn. We also found many were not attempting to use the available self-service support.

    For that client we are piloting a “store of the future” that uses technology to streamline and automate transactional and repetitive tasks (such as taking customer information and creating a queue), freeing store agents to welcome and interact with customers. Agents can now help customers use self-service, encouraging their use of it and creating new options to learn more about their needs.

Most importantly, imagine and act on the future.

From the decline in land line phones to millennials who watch video on mobile devices, not TVs, the social and technology landscape is shifting. As non-traditional entrants encroach on traditional markets with everything from over the top video streaming to high speed Internet, you need to develop not only new products and services, but new business models, before a startup beats you to it.

Figure 1

Our fourth annual customer experience survey showed many familiar challenges, such as rising rates of churn and disappointing use of lower cost digital support channels. But a look around our homes or our nearest coffee shop shows us how important role even “traditional” services such as pay TV continue to be.

From our survey and our work with customers, we are more convinced than ever that simplicity and the reduction of customer effort — in everything from pricing to service delivery to support to the in-store experience — is an essential competitive differentiator in a complex, fast-changing world.

For additional study insights, see our infographic; to learn more about our communications services, visit our website.

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Keeping it Simple in Perpetuity (Part 5)