Why communication is the key to unlocking 5G value

Why communication is the key to unlocking 5G value
With a variety of factors leaving consumers still largely in the dark as to the promises of 5G, how can DSPs address this failure to communicate and convey its full potential? Guest blogger Teresa Cottam of Omnisperience examines a new approach to customer engagement.

Once again, our industry has spent 10 years and billions of dollars developing and deploying the next generation of mobile network, along with millions more spent on slick advertising, only to stumble at the very last hurdle – successful commercialisation. I apologise if you’re reading this article and experiencing déjà vu. I share your frustration. In fact, I warned the industry about this very same issue with 3G and 4G. And yet here we are again.

You can’t sell innovation without effective communication and engagement. You can’t convince customers you’re innovative unless they can feel a tangible change that goes beyond a better network experience to include product, commercial and service innovation. Otherwise, you create an experience gap that slows adoption and results in the unthinkable – customers who actually downgrade their service.

Unlikely you say? Well that’s exactly what almost 600,000 customers in South Korea have done in the year since 5G launched. They bought 5G only to go back to 4G.

In Europe, 5G is only just coming to market. Despite all the industry hype it simply hasn’t grabbed the imagination of jaded consumers in the way that say an iPhone launch once did. They’re not getting out of bed before dawn and queuing round the corner to sign up for 5G. Many don’t understand what it does for them. And, like the customers in South Korea, they believe 4G is sufficient for their needs. Some of these customers are so wary they’ve begun inventing scare stories they’re relating to anyone who’ll listen. Not only are we going to have to communicate the benefits of 5G more effectively to these customers, and support them in the early days of adoption, but we need to re-educate them even before we can begin selling to them. Meanwhile, our business customers are increasingly frustrated: they know what their business needs to compete in the Digital Economy, but buying and adapting telecoms services to meet those needs is often far from easy.

The irony of the communications industry is that while it’s brilliant at delivering technological, network-based innovation, it’s never been very good at innovating the customer experience. This has led to a widening gap between what customers expect from 5G and what’s actually being delivered that risks the entire 5G proposition becoming a huge disappointment.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. By addressing long-standing weaknesses in the way they communicate and engage with their customers, DSPs can solve four key sets of risks and ensure successful 5G commercialisation. They can:
  1. avoid the commercial risk of sales and onboarding process becoming barriers to adoption and ensure they don’t miss out on vital mid-lifecycle upsell and cross-sell opportunities because of poor communication & engagement
  2. solve the operational risk of the increased cost of supporting frustrated, confused and unhappy customers who are calling contact centres to get answers
  3. head off the competitive risk of customers churning to rival DSPs that offer a better experience
  4. dodge the reputational risk and brand damage of being perceived as a low-quality company that lacks innovation.
Addressing these challenges successfully requires DSPs to take a fresh approach to the way they communicate and engage their customers. Omnisperience calls this approach DCES (Digital Communication & Engagement Solutions). It advocates combining all the technologies DSPs utilise to communicate with their customers, breaking down departmental communication silos, and reversing negative communication cycles to deliver more effective communication and engagement by design. The result is coherent, resonant, and contextual experiences that drive up value and customer loyalty at a lower operational cost.  

“DCES combine all the technologies DSPs utilise to
communicate with their customers”

I know this sounds expensive and hard. But the good news is that you don’t need a massive transformation strategy to deliver many of the benefits of this approach. The chances are your existing vendor can help you deliver a DCES approach by integrating what you already have, filling in the gaps and upgrading the experience you deliver.

Have other things you need to do first? Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What’s the point of a faster network if you’re still waiting in frustratingly long queues to speak to a customer service rep when things go wrong or you don’t understand something? Will 5G feel innovative when they still have to repeat information, be forced to switch channels or receive confusing, boring bills that look broadly the same as they did 20 years ago? Will network innovation and flexibility be supported by more personalised and relevant offers and price plans? Or will it all seem like more of the same? 

Anyone can innovate. But successful innovators are also great communicators of innovation. We can do better. We must do better if we’re to unleash the full commercial potential of 5G. Find out how in our complimentary new paper – ‘DCES: Building Value Through Effective Communication & Engagement’ which explains why effective communication of innovation is a huge commercial issue, impacting both the top and bottom lines, and why it plays such an important role in building healthy, long-lasting customer relationships.

Teresa Cottam leads research & analysis at industry analysts Omnisperience. She is a renowned expert on customer experience, employee experience, customer communications & engagement, pricing, packaging & bundling, billing & charging. She is a judge of the GSMA’s Global Mobile Awards (GloMo’s), the UK Cloud Awards, and the World Communication Awards. She previously held senior positions at Telesperience, Analysys Mason, Chorleywood Consulting, Informa and Ovum.