Staying Competitive as a Telco in the Age of 5G

May 1, 2020

Did you know that 5G technology has the potential to add £15.7 billion to the UK economy every year by 2025? Clearly, 5G is playing a critical role now, and it will continue to influence the digital economy in the future. But with the heavy competition in the race to thrive with this new technology, how can your telecommunications company, or telco, stay competitive?

The best way to give your telco a competitive advantage is to deliver exceptional customer service. It’s all about getting to the heart of what customers really want. This includes taking 5G beyond faster internet, developing from a connectivity supplier to a strategic partner, and beefing up security and integration support.

Take 5G Beyond Faster Internet

Customers have high expectations of 5G, but they don’t just want faster internet. A 2019 Ericsson Consumer & IndustryLab Insight report found that “4 in 10 high-spenders expect new apps and services from their 5G plan.” Successful telcos are taking their 5G services beyond the internet, venturing into edge computing and mobile apps hosting. This is helping them compete directly with public cloud providers.

As long as 5G service offerings go above and beyond, customers are willing to pay a premium for them. The same Ericsson Consumer & IndustryLab Insight report found that “Smartphone users say they are willing to pay a 20 percent premium for 5G, and early adopters as much as 32 percent.”

 

“Service providers need to fundamentally transform their operating models and the way they take products to market, so that their methods are focused on ‘What are the solutions that customers want to buy?’ rather than ‘What are the products we build and take to market?’” said Aps Chikhalikar, ServiceNow’s chief innovation officer, APJ, and telecommunications industry lead. “They need to build with a ‘customer first’ rather than ‘product first’ mindset.”

When telcos prioritise customer service and customer preferences, they’re much more likely to be able to attract and keep new customers, making them more competitive players in the space.

Develop from Connectivity Supplier to Strategic Partner

5G provides an excellent opportunity for telcos to expand and deepen the services they offer to organizations and individuals. With 5G still relatively new, telcos can consult with their clients and position 5G as a player in the enterprise transformation space. This consultative role allows telcos to help organizations not just have better connectivity, but better business outcomes as well.

“Organizations investing in 5G are looking for better business outcomes for the next decade and beyond,” explain Tom Loozen and Adrian Baschnonga at EY Global. “This requires telcos to move beyond their historic role as mere connectivity suppliers.”

How can telcos do this? One crucial way is to make sure your customer service processes are flawless, both on the customer side and internally. Why? Because “communications service providers that strategically place customer service within their 5G network rollout strategy can enable positive experiences for their customers — consumers and business customers alike.”

ServiceNow, for example, is a customer service management solution that creates strategic interconnectivity with customers and processes. Telcos can use ServiceNow CSM to see a 360-degree view of the customer, enabling better relationships, streamlined interactions, and the ability to predict customer behavior. As you ensure that you can communicate with customers clearly and give them an excellent customer experience, you position yourself as a true partner.

Another method of becoming a strategic partner, suggested by Loozen and Baschnonga, is reskilling sales teams, training them to “[focus] on the business outcomes enabled by 5G-based IoT.” As telcos help companies understand the potential use cases and associated business outcomes of 5G, they become valuable partners for their clients.

Beef up Security and Smooth Over the Integration with Existing Technologies

5G exists on a largely all-software network, so when it’s time to upgrade 5G, it will be a software update, much like software updates with which smartphone users are familiar. But cyber vulnerabilities are inherent in software, and 5G is no exception.

According to Tom Wheeler and David Simpson of the Brookings Institute, “5G networks are more vulnerable to cyberattacks than their predecessors” in five ways:

●      The network uses distributed, software-defined digital routing.

●      It virtualises higher-level network functionality that was once done by physical appliances.

●      The software is managed by software (AI).

●      The bandwidth is dramatically more expansive than in previous generations

●      Billions of hackable smart devices are connected to the network.

Because of these vulnerabilities, it’s vital that those in the 5G space “retool how we secure the most important network of the 21st century and the ecosystem of devices and applications that sprout from that network.”

For telcos, the “retooling” means tackling customers’ concerns head-on. Are you clear about 5G’s relationship with other emerging technologies? Are your cybersecurity efforts up to the task? Do your products and services integrate well with existing technologies? It is, of course, vital to adopt 5G, but if the security and integration infrastructure can’t support it, your customers won’t have a good experience.

ServiceNow CSM can help telcos answer these questions and address customer concerns proactively. CSM provides insight into customer issues and inquiries, giving telcos a clear look at what customers are most concerned about. This allows them to “shift from reacting to one-off bad experiences or missed SLA expectations to proactively improving customer relationships and ultimately reducing churn.”

With 5G adding a projected £15.7 billion to the UK economy each year, telcos need to stay competitive by putting their customers’ needs front-and-center. By looking beyond faster internet, using 5G to become a strategic partner, and ensuring that security and integrations are up to speed, you can keep your telco at the head of the pack.

Learn how Crossfuze can help you implement ServiceNow CSM so your customer service teams can keep your telco top-of-mind for your customers.

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