Ask a telco Chief Operations Officer (COO) what has transformed his job in the last few years, and he might come up with a few possibilities. Ask a COO what is going to change his role in the next year or so, and the likely answer will be automation.
Automating BSS means streamlining a host of processes and being able to monitor them closely, react fast if necessary and be proactive in others. It gives a COO control that, even a few years ago, was just not there.
The idea of being proactive in customer service is not new, but the reality definitely is. Terms such as cross-selling and upselling have been around for some years.
Telcos are quickly learning that helping customers in the current pandemic will have long-term benefits. As customers value support and community care more and more, these ideas become not only practical but become differentiators as customers move to new ways of judging brands. It is no coincidence that according to websites such as ‘didtheyhelp?’, telcos have improved their image significantly during COVID-19, and this will carry on.
For example, if customers can manage their data and services themselves, and easily, it becomes possible to gift excess data to friends, family or even front line workers – very much like British Airways’ NHS Thank You Appeal which allows Avios to be donated. Rolling data over to the next month, rather than that data disappearing, becomes valuable. So does rolling data ‘under’, where a customer can ‘borrow’ against next month’s data.
Add artificial intelligence to automation, and you not only reduce the time and irritation it takes to solve a customer service problem (albeit reasonably simple ones), you also improve your recommendation capability and, as networks become platforms, the opportunities become significant as the range of services increases.
And that cycle is a virtuous one.
If automation improves BSS processes, which allows customer service to be more proactive and intuitive, then the customer experience improves. “BSS automation means that customers can be kept informed at all stages of the service lifecycle, providing much-needed transparency and building trust,” comments Cerillion’s Richard Doughty. “Automating these processes and customer communications means that customer service staff can then be focused on higher-value engagements where a human touch is needed or beneficial.”
When the customer experience improves, then key performance indicators improve, net promoter scores improve, and churn, the bane of telecoms, improves too.
That cycle means that everyone from the CEO to the customer is happy. In short, automation must be a vital tool for telcos that want to stay competitive.