CSPs are betting big time on 5G. To justify this high level of spend, they need to ensure that all the critical success factors required to maximize 5G’s potential are in place. Fredrik Edwall argues that one critical success factor – technical customer support - is currently being overlooked by CSPs in their rush to rollout new networks and that it will undermine the value of 5G if it isn’t addressed.
According to the GSMA, between 2021 and 2025 CSPs intend to spend $900 billion on their networks, with the lion’s share (80%) going on 5G. But much of this network investment will be in markets in North America and Europe where there are few new subscribers and considerable competition, resulting in downward price pressure.
This means that global revenues are only forecast to increase from $1.03 trillion in 2020 to $1.15 trillion in 2025.
The challenge for CSPs is therefore to use 5G as a platform for innovation, to explore new business models and to deliver new experiences that together create sufficient value to justify the hefty spend on networks. Creating this value, however, requires CSPs to deliver a premium network proposition that customers are willing to pay for. This, in turn, means they must understand and deliver against customer expectations that go far beyond faster speeds and lower latency. Critically, as both B2B and B2C customers become ever-more connected, they need to be able to trust the connected experience provided by their CSP and know that if something does go wrong, their CSP will be transparent, efficient, communicative, and supportive.
...they must understand and deliver against customer expectations that go far beyond faster speeds and lower latency.
5G pioneer South Korea, for example, has already discovered what happens when you don’t deliver against customers’ expectations. In the year after it rolled out 5G, more than half a million customers (562,656) gave up on the technology and went back to 4G, according to a report by Rep. Hong Jung-min of the Science, ICT, Broadcasting and Communications Committee of the National Assembly.
These customers voted with their feet when 5G failed to offer the type of connected experience they’d expected. But, even more damningly, the report found that this was just the tip of the iceberg. Many more customers were equally disappointed and couldn’t see any benefit in the technology. The only reason they hadn’t gone back to 4G was because the difficulty of doing so outweighed any modest savings they might make.
This is not a good response to a multi-billion dollar investment. So, what had gone wrong? Importantly, customers don’t perceive 5G as just at technology change, they expect an experience change at the same time.
The importance of addressing this expectation was revealed in a report from Analysys Mason analysts Anil Roa and William Nagy. They found that while network coverage and speed are strongly correlated with lower churn rates, network service quality is only the second most influential factor affecting net promoter score (NPS). The most influential factor is the level of customer service.
They found that while network coverage and speed are strongly correlated with lower churn rates, network service quality is only the second most influential factor affecting net promoter score (NPS). The most influential factor is the level of customer service.
The vital role of customer service is never more important than during a time of rapid innovation when new networks, services and applications are bedding-in, and customers are unfamiliar with them or unsure what to expect. It's inevitable they’ll have lots of questions and need more support than usual. But in addition, since they’ve been told that 5G is a revolutionary new technology, it’s also natural that they should have high expectations of support.
This means that unless CSPs can deliver a step change in the way they support their customers, they risk not only disappointing and frustrating their customers, but being overwhelmed by a huge tidal wave of enquiries and complaints – raising costs and increasing the stress on their CSRs and customers. They’ll also fail to build customer confidence and trust, and miss out on those vital upsell and cross-sell opportunities. They may risk customers rolling back to 4G, as we saw in South Korea, or even losing them entirely if they continue to force them to queue to get even the simplest question answered.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. CSPs still have time to re-evaluate and retool their CX in preparation for the next phase of market development. Much of what they need doesn’t require a wholesale change of technology, it just requires a change of mindset and the ability to fill in the gaps, join previously disparate sources of information and being able to communicate more rapidly, proactively, and effectively with customers. That’s exactly what Subtonomy was set up to do.
To find out more why don’t you check out how you can give your CSRs insights to your customers network experience and what actions they have taken so far.
Before CSPs embark on this journey they need to ensure they have a good understanding of what their customers want from them. In our next post we’re going to share with you what these customer expectations are based on research we’ve conducted, and then we’re going to explain exactly what CSPs can do to meet their customers’ needs in order to unlock the full potential of 5G.