The pace of innovation for telecoms is genuinely staggering. Just 40 years ago, we launched 1G to support our big, blocky Motorola “mobile” phones, weighing in at 2.5 lbs. or 1.13 kgs. The technology was analog and supported voice only. The battery life, connection quality, and security were poor, with many dropped calls.
I have kept my first phone, a Nokia 5110, for sentimental purposes, since I thought was amazing, but how things have changed! We’re now rolling out 5G, a wireless technology that could provide us with a staggering 10 Gbps connection speed across a range of devices. This amazing technology will allow us to text, talk, email, explore the internet, read, game, shop, watch movies (in ultra-high def and 3D), listen to music, and connect to all things on our Internet of Things.
Interwoven so tightly into everything we do, when service is disrupted, so are our lives. Along with a high-speed connection, we expect an elevated level of responsiveness and support from our telecom service providers.
The new ways and the old days
You’d think with so much innovation that telecoms would be leading the charge, with state-of-the-art infrastructure and an intuitive customer experience second to none.
However, these cycles of reinvention have taken their toll, with many telecom organizations relying on a patchwork of contemporary and legacy systems to support the business. Although these companies deliver cutting-edge technology to their end-users, the ability to serve customers and run an efficient operation is often impeded by internal infrastructure that can’t keep up.
By delivering a service that many consider essential, telecoms don’t have the luxury of turning out the lights and rebuilding from scratch. Instead, they must rely on science and technology to integrate the old with the new.
We no longer control how we interact with our customers. Instead, end-users expect an omnichannel experience that they control, using their channel of choice, including email, text, phone, or social media platforms. And sometimes, they don’t want to communicate at all, preferring to self-serve, sourcing information and taking action on their own.
A good example is scheduling a service call. With many telecoms, a customer must endure a long wait in a phone queue to speak to a live agent to book an appointment. It’s a time-consuming and inefficient process.
Rescheduling an appointment is even more frustrating, with another wait in the same phone queue. Many customers, including me, don’t have the time (or the patience). As a result, the technician arrives, and no one is home. The outcome is a service call requiring multiple visits, negatively impacting the customer experience, first-time fix rates, and other critical operational efficiencies.
Today, many telecom service providers rely on technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to automate many of these workflows, putting the customer firmly in control. The end-user may book their service call themselves, easily making adjustments and rescheduling as needed.
With automated workflows and real-time data, the telecom can send the customer reminders and other important details (technician’s name, estimated arrival time, etc.), enhancing the experience. This same infrastructure solicits input from the customer after the visit to gauge service levels and overall satisfaction. These feed back data and inform the telecom, helping to drive incremental improvements to the service model.
There’s not much point in providing an elevated customer experience on the front end if the backend systems can’t keep up.
For example, when a customer reschedules a service call, subsequent actions are necessary, including adjusting the overall schedule, updating the ERP and other records, reassigning service orders, and additional activities. With the benefit of new advances such as AI and ML, adjustments can occur in near real-time for greater efficiencies across the operation.
Field service management (FSM) technology can help connect all of these dots. FSM accesses and moves data from legacy and modern systems, incorporating real-time data from the field and other activities to create a centralized view of the operation. FSM technology provides informed recommendations for schedulers based on a technician’s experience, certifications, geographical location, and even the tools they have in their trucks for additional efficiencies.
These savings in time and resources are especially critical given other pressures on telecom service providers, such as the global skills shortage. With an extremely shallow talent pool, many organizations must do more with less, making every minute of a technician’s workday valuable.
Once again, technology can provide meaningful efficiencies in technician productivity. For example, remote assistance technology supports real-time collaboration using merged reality. Experienced technicians can interact with less experienced technicians remotely, providing them with guidance to resolve an issue while they’re still onsite for a first-time fix.
With so much flexibility, the telecom service provider is more agile, able to absorb and adjust to changes in the moment while delivering a consistently high level of service and support.
Technology holds the key
Telecoms can leverage many intriguing technologies to help them improve and modernize their existing infrastructure—without the need to re-platform the entire operation. By connecting historical systems with modern technology, telecom service providers can truly elevate the customer experience while running an efficient and profitable business.
For a deeper dive into how technology transforms the entire service cycle for telecoms, read the whitepaper: The Impact of telecommunications industry trends on CX and service management, or contact us for more information.
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