The telecommunications industry lives in a world of smartphones, broadband internet, and 4K HD content, so you’d think that there’s no need for digital transformation in an industry that is in most respects, well, digital. While telecom companies deliver many of the digital wonders of the world to our doorsteps and pockets, there are many aspects of their businesses that leave room for digital transformation-driven improvements. This is particularly true when it comes to customer experience and marketing where change is constant and competition is fierce.
What Does Digital Transformation Mean for Telecommunications Companies?
Digital transformation is a mushy term that can mean anything from forsaking analog technologies like fax machines and paper filing systems for high-falootin’ tech like email, cloud storage, and DocuSign to a full cultural shift to operating in a digital-first world. For some more traditional businesses like insurance and financial services, the hardware and software-focused kind of digital transformation is still very real and still happening.
For example, when I bought my first home six years ago, I signed a mountain of paper that nearly filled a file box and I touched more copy and fax machines than I had in a decade. When I sold that house and bought a different one just three years later, DocuSign and other digital document technology reduced that to the few “wet” signatures required on the title docs and everything else was on a little jump drive shaped like a house key. I didn’t fax or copy a single sheet of paper. What a change!
Digital transformation was all the rage five years ago when everyone was moving to SaaS in the cloud from on-prem solutions and it was all you heard about from conferences to tech blogs. Today it often refers to moving to a digital-first customer buying journey, and with COVID pushing many businesses and consumers into the online realm, “digital transformation” is experiencing something of a renaissance.
Digital transformation in telecommunications has mostly gotten past the initial technological and hardware-to-the-cloud stage of transformation and is moving more to the cultural shift stage in 2021. This cultural digital transformation is more about a shift in corporate focus — how to better serve customers, adapt to their changing needs in near-real-time, and accepting and adopting new technologies like AI to accomplish this along the way.
In an industry with so much consolidation where there’s often little difference in the prices, services, and products being offered, the players can all look just about the same. One of the best ways for telecom companies to differentiate themselves is through their level of obsession with providing great experiences and empathetic customer service that never misses an opportunity to delight.
Conversation Intelligence can Drive Digital Transformation for Telcos
Fittingly, telecom companies tend to do a lot of their business over the phone. The services they provide are somewhat complex, service contracts are often involved, and there are just lots of choices to make along the way. It’s a high-risk proposition for consumers and they want to be confident that they are making the right purchase decisions.
While consumers will do much of their shopping and research online, they will want to talk to a real person at some point in the buying journey to guide them to a choice that they will not regret. In fact, broadband internet provider Windstream says that more than 60% of their sales happen over the phone.
When it comes to marketing, many telecom providers — especially smaller regional outfits, local ISPs, and rural providers — tend to fall more on the traditional side of things than digital. They often rely more on direct mail and TV advertising than social media and paid search, and do not have the martech stack in place to piece together a customer journey that can cross channels many times along the way. Issues with marketing attribution used to be seen just as a “marketing problem” but it can cause issues throughout the customer’s buying journey that can lead to them having bad experiences. This is where digital transformation comes into play for many telecom organizations.
How Viasat Uses Conversation Intelligence to Drive Digital Transformation in Marketing
Viasat is a prime example of digital transformation in the telco industry, specifically in marketing. Nearly 90% of its marketing budget used to go to offline advertising, primarily through national television ads. In early 2020, Viasat made an aggressive shift from offline advertising to digital marketing. Of course, switching to digital marketing from online advertising takes more than setting up a Google Ads account and posting on Facebook. It requires building a full-on digital marketing ecosystem where you can get full visibility of the customer journey.
This is especially important to telecoms, because a majority of their sales still occur on the phone, though customers do most of their research online. Once Viasat was conducting nearly all of its marketing via digital channels, it needed to find new ways of attributing call volume and sales back to its digital marketing channels and ad spend to figure out which clicks were driving calls, and which are driving sales. “Just when you thought that our marketing challenges at Viasat couldn't get any more difficult, they actually do,” said David Salcido, director of digital marketing at Viasat.
On top of having hard-to-reach customers in rural areas and an aggressive shift to digital, they also faced a lack of integration between marketing technology platforms. “We had no visibility into our sales data as far as our campaign data went. What we really needed was more granular tracking from the first touchpoint all the way to the conversion.” Since nearly all of Viasat’s sales happen in the call center, it was not easy to track.
Using Invoca’s Active Conversation Intelligence platform, Viasat was able to fully integrate its marketing tech stack to get a 360-degree view of the customer journey and mitigate its call volume issues while significantly increasing conversion rates.
Read their full case study to learn more about their digital transformation and how they built their martech ecosystem around Invoca to realize a 74% conversion rate increase.
How Telecoms Can Fix Customer Experience Issues with Conversation Intelligence
Since so much of their business happens on the phone, there's a huge opportunity for telecommunications companies to tap into conversation analytics data to improve the customer experience, online and offline.
Simply figuring out why people are calling is the first step to improving the customer experience. When it comes to signing up for broadband or satellite TV service, signing up for service involves providing sensitive information and making a lot of packaging choices, so it helps to have a real person guide customers through the process.
For example, Dish Network used Invoca conversation intelligence to figure out that many of its online shoppers were abandoning their carts when they had to provide information like social security and credit card numbers. “Driving someone to convert in an [online] cart, just because it’s the cheapest, doesn’t mean it’s the best thing to do,” said Russell Bangert, director of digital marketing at Dish. Check out this video to see how they did it.
To make sure it could better serve these customers, it used Invoca to route these customer from the cart directly to a call center experience that’s specially tailored to their needs. By providing customers with easy access to personalized human assistance, they were able to convert 60% of those customers on the phone compared to only 5% that were converting on the website.
With conversation intelligence technology, telecom companies can provide superior customer service, increase conversion rates, and close the loop on marketing data to complete their digital transformation efforts and win in the digital revolution.