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The current state of wireless: Digital engagement wins a zero-sum game

Near saturation of the wireless market has effectively turned it into a “zero-sum game.” With this reality in mind, operating costs and “share of wallet” have become king. Carriers are now striving for digital consumer engagement to reduce the cost of interactions, retain customers and enable digital upsell and cross-sell of services. And some leaders in the market are already there.
expert digital engagement with customers wins against competitors

In game theory, a zero-sum game is essentially a situation in which each participant’s gain or loss is exactly balanced by the losses or gains of the other participants. “Super,” you may be saying to yourself, “but what does that have to do with the wireless industry?” Well, at the moment, it has everything to do with the wireless vertical and is creating unique challenges for its carriers.

According to CTIA’s Wireless Snapshot 2017, “there are now more wireless devices than Americans, with about 1.2 devices for every person in the country” – in fact, almost 95% of US adults own a mobile phone. What that means is that potential markets are nearly exhausted, and the top three wireless carriers are each spending well in excess of a million dollars per day on advertising to win back or hold on to the same customers.

With this reality in mind, operating costs and “share of wallet” have become king.  Carriers are now striving for digital consumer engagement and using shared (or unified) databases to reduce the cost of interactions.  The strategy is to not only reduce expenses but to enable customers to easily upgrade or add products via digital channels whether through a web- or mobile-based virtual assistant or via live chat. And carriers are wise to pursue this approach. Analysts have described this era as one of digital transformation in telecommunications. Consumer expectations for an enhanced online, mobile and live experience have risen sharply. Customers and shoppers assume that all channels – whether they are interacting with a live agent, an interactive voice response (IVR) system, a virtual assistant, live chat or an outbound message – will be linked digitally so that each medium is aware of the other.  They also expect that they’ll be able to add services or  accessories and perform other tasks without having to speak with a live person on the phone – I know I do.

An excellent, recent example comes from a Nuance telco client – also one of the leading brands in the US.  They were looking to provide their online customers with an improved, exceptional live chat experience. They wanted to increase live chat conversions through improved targeting rules, enhance customer engagements on mobile devices and boost upsell/cross-sell performance through a more custom mobile chat experience. After partnering with Nuance to customize and optimize their live chat customer service offerings, Nuance desktop chat contributed to 25% of desktop site orders, and Nuance mobile chat converted 156% more new sales, enabled a 325% improvement in upsells, and facilitated 360% in additional accessory sales as measured within the first 11 days. Year-over-year, Nuance customer engagements had a 40% higher overall interaction conversion rate than the baseline, resulting in 24% more orders.

The bottom line is that telecommunications companies must provide a polished, unified digital experience to compete effectively and efficiently, or not only risk spiraling expenses, but miss additional sales opportunities and fail to meet consumer expectations.  For those carriers not keeping up, this zero-sum game turns into a losing proposition.

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Vance Clipson

About Vance Clipson

Vance Clipson, senior principal, industry solutions for Nuance Communications, focuses on vertical-specific strategy and marketing with an emphasis on healthcare, financial services and government. Clipson brings 25 years of experience translating industry needs and data into market strategy and programs for Milliman, PacifiCare Health Systems and other organizations.