In 2020, 55% of consumers reported turning to brands they trust however, B2B Telco customers reported a churn rate of 44% to OTT services. Telcos historical reliance on traditional connectivity (dial tone, PSTN, ISDN, ADSL, Fibre, etc) leadership was the platform for a long term trust-based relationship. What's changed?

After 20+ years working with Telcos, I think back to where it started and how we grew a trust-based service. I cut my teeth to the sweet tune of an incoming dial-in modem, racks and racks of noise, flashing lights and then ADSL hit the town which was a rapid sink or swim moment in time. I decided to sell our ISP and evolve into a managed services partner and supplier to Telcos. Right time, right decision.  

Reflecting on our growth as an ISP, we were manic about customer service and experience which was the foundation of a trust-based relationship during the unfiltered *W*ild *W*ild *W*est of the 90's.

Reflecting on my generation, Telcos were at the forefront of emerging technologies that formed the data and voice transport's backbone. Telcos were driving the innovation and technology highways of the future. We graduated from analogue copper lines to software-defined networks, wireless and fibre networks delivering services at a volume, speed, and cost per unit that was unimaginable years ago.

This has led to the next generation of Telcos who are digital-first, agile and don't have the legacy baggage and technical debt to manage. Some traditional Telcos are making good strides, but I question if the gap between digital-first and legacy is too far.

Over the last 10 years, traditional Telcos failed to provide an authentic digital-first experience for customers and their respective teams. I am still bemused with the continual portal proliferation to mask the underlying lack of generational investment into legacy BSS/OSS evolution that can support a digital-first approach.  

The new world of remote work, changes in the perspective of what's "essential" and the uncertainty in 2020, has caused a massive shift in B2B needs and expectations. Businesses that are well on their path to digital transformation are looking to digital-first Telcos to support their needs in improving self-service capabilities and migrating to enhance the customer experience via omnichannel.

If I was a Telco, what would I do?

Telcos need to enhance every customer touchpoint making it easier to subscribe and change services on demand. Base everything on an 80/20 rule and listen to actual end-users first and foremost (CEO, CIO, CFO, don't know everything).

1.Stop dancing around the edges of digitising business processes

This needs to be a genuine endeavour. Importing Excel and scanning paper should have died 10 years ago, but still highly used across Telcos. Digitisation based on pure customer-centricity, full stop. Nothing else matters.  

2. Portal abolishing

Recently, we discussed a project to build another portal with a USA-based organisation. Sounds great, 10 years ago. We presented our case to deliver the functionality as an API service. API's are the only way to transition from portal proliferation to providing exceptional customer engagements that are digital-first.

3.Expand into adjacent markets

If Tesla can do tequila, maybe Telcos can find a way to solve Dark Data challenges that transact across fixed and wireless networks.  ** Adjoining products or solutions, customer segments, marketsand any other technology that is just beyond the bounds of current products. This is where the area that needs the most innovation.

4.Adopt Agile

Agile environments allow smooth transitions between legacy applications into new front-and back-office cloud-native tools. This is a tough challenge, but it's worth the investment with the ROI long term we have seen within our teams.

Retaining customers, building sustainable, profitable recurring revenue requires obsessive customer focus beyond just words. Customers expect a seamless, reliable customer experience coupled with digital services on demand, including billing & support. Instability of the world around us creates an opportunity to retake lost customer loyalty. To achieve this, past transgressions of lack lustre digitisation programs need to pivot towards customer-centricity. Trust is built on communication, start with end-users as they hold the power to learn what innovation is needed.

Wonder what I will write about Telcos in 20 years, will I still be using a keyboard? Mind boggles.