Today we live in an interconnected world, where digital technology is key to how we live and work. The acceleration of digital transformation has seen technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, and other emerging technologies transform customer expectations, wants, and needs. Customers are looking for more and want to spend less. They are using technology to enhance their connectivity both professionally and personally. This has posed a challenge for the Telecommunications Industry and has us asking the question, what do Telcos need to do to adapt to the Consumer of the Future?
The Changing Digital and Telecommunications Landscape
To understand the Consumer of the Future and how the Telecommunications business model needs to adapt, we first need to understand how this landscape has changed in recent years. There is no doubt that the Telecommunications industry and world we live in have shifted over the years, especially where digital technology is concerned. How significant has this shift been? If we examine the fact that there are 7.26 billion mobile phone users, which equates to 91.62% of people in the world who are cellphone owners, we can say that the shift has been immense. The driving factor behind this shift is that consumers need to be interconnected.
Connectivity has become a massive focus for consumers, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has dramatically accelerated digital transformation globally. More and more consumers rely on connectivity in both their professional and personal lives. During this time, technology has been utilised to assist working professionals in working remotely without missing a beat. It has taken schools online and allowed learners to continue with their studies.
People across the globe have utilised online video communication platforms to stay connected both personally and professionally. Apps like Microsoft Teams have seen immense growth over the past two years with an increase from 75 million users to over 145 million daily active users while Zoom revealed it had 300 million daily meeting participants last year compared to the 10 million recorded in 2019.
These are just a few examples of how consumers have and continue to rely on connectivity and digital technology.
Initially, this need for connectivity boosted Telcos revenue, but consumer needs continue to adapt and change, and if Telcos aren’t able to adapt and change with them, then they aren’t able to build on this growth and success.
No one expected the Telecommunications industry to transform so quickly and for the adoption of this technology to happen on such a large scale. To meet the demands of this accelerated growth within the industry, Telcos scrambled to put solutions, products and offerings in place to meet consumers’ new connectivity needs. But now, a more sustainable and thought out approach will be necessary for Telcos to keep this momentum going and the industry growing.
For the Telecommunications industry to continue to evolve and meet customer expectations, Telcos will need to focus on identifying what the future customers are looking for and what kind of solutions they require.
If Telcos can do this effectively, they will be able to connect with their audience and provide life-enhancing solutions. This is a much more sustainable approach for customer retention, especially within this dynamic and ever-changing environment.
The key to achieving the above is focusing on utilising a customer-centric business model. This business approach focuses on creating the best possible experience for the customer with the aim of building brand loyalty. This strategy ensures that the customer and their needs are at the centre of the business’s ideas, operations, and philosophy. This is critical to maintaining existing customers which is a lot less expensive than acquiring new customers.
The question is, how do you do this? The answer lies in understanding consumer lifestyles and what they want.
Consumer lifestyles and what they want?
Consumers are busier than ever and are looking for convenient, personalised, quick, friendly and easy to use products and services that enhance their lives.
One product that has become a necessity is a mobile phone. For consumers, a mobile phone is more than just a mobile device. It is an information centre, a work tool, an emergency device, a wallet, a source of entertainment, and a way to stay connected with friends and family. A mobile phone has become an indispensable “must-have” accessory. It has become invaluable to customers both professionally and personally because being reachable and connected is a critical need. Connectivity has become vital in every aspect of our lives.
You may be asking how do we use connectivity? If you think about it and how you live your life, connectivity is at the centre of everything. When you leave home in a hurry, you would generally rather grab your smartphone and not your wallet. WHY? The simple answer is that your smartphone has everything you need.
For example, in today’s world, we can utilise digital tools and apps to buy groceries and get them delivered. We are able to book services online without needing to stand in a queue. You don’t even need to be physically present at a gym to work out. You can join a yoga class or a spinning class using an online platform at home and have the same experience.
Technology today not only helps us save time on tasks but allows us to stay connected with loved ones. It has also never been easier to send your overseas family dinner, gifts or flowers when you miss them or to celebrate a milestone. You can connect online while playing the same games on Xbox or watching the same movies on Netflix. Connectivity is bringing people together in new and fulfilling ways, and location is no longer a factor.
Consumers In Urban Areas and Their Needs
Consumers today, especially those in urban areas, are looking for POWER OF CHOICE. They want time-saving options, examples of which include:
- The convenience of online shopping where you can buy a number of different products ranging from groceries, snacks, medicine, clothes or electronics from online stores and have them delivered directly to our homes.
- Studying a full degree online and working remotely without leaving home.
- Easily accessible healthcare utilising a video call or booking an appointment online.
- Access information needed for travelling such as resort reviews, local attractions, hotels in the area, and more while booking everything online.
- Having a large selection of entertainment options, from gaming to streaming live events, watching the latest movies, joining in on quiz nights, and the list goes on.
- Life-enhancing IoT solutions that allow you to create AI-powered home hubs which help to manage your whole household with the click of a button.
- FinTech solutions like mobile wallets offer financial freedom and allow you to pay, transact and buy elements directly from your mobile device.
These consumers want technology to simplify the complexities of life, and will help them save time. This is an opportunity for Telcos to tailor product packages and customise services and offerings that speak to the needs of these consumers.
Consumers in Rural Areas and Their Needs
Rural customers live far away from cities and have limited transport opportunities which means they do not have direct access to banks, hospitals, schools, work, offices and more. They rely on connectivity to make these elements accessible to them. Through connectivity, these consumers:
- Are able to take advantage of remote working opportunities which gives them an opportunity to earn an income while staying home and saving money on commuting to big cities for work.
- Can access education, even if the school is far away, children can still participate and study online.
- Are able to shop more effectively, as in rural areas shopping often is a challenge because your options are limited in terms of what you can get locally. Online shopping has changed this. With online shopping, people in rural areas have access to products that are difficult to come by. The best part is that once ordered, these products are delivered.
- Have access to healthcare and are able to consult with a doctor over a video call and get the necessary prescriptions online, saving them a trip to the hospital, which can also be costly.
- Are offered financial inclusion through FinTech solutions which enable them to access elements related to online banking without needing to go directly into a bank or draw money from cash machines.
- Can also access different entertainment activities from cultural entertainment, streaming movies or music, virtual tours of museums or even going on a virtual safari.
- Are able to easily connect with family and friends who live far away via video calls, texts and more.
In order for the above to be a reality, rural customers need connectivity, internet access as well as fast speed internet. This is a challenge that Telcos need to meet in terms of setting up this infrastructure. Once the infrastructure is in place Telcos will be able to tap into this growing market and provide them with personalised packages and more accessibility.
How Telcos need to adapt for the future
From the above, it is clear that both urban and rural consumers today are tech-savvy and more knowledgeable than ever, which means they do their research and know exactly what they are looking for.
They are no longer settling for fixed contracts and tariffs, especially when considering that 1 in 4 customers are looking for flexibility.
They have evolved and are on the hunt for the best deals, affordable options, value-added services that suit their unique lifestyles.
These consumers are looking for convenience, control, service quality, a personal experience and time-saving solutions that are personalised and that will help them stay connected.
To answer to these needs Telcos will need to provide customers with modular offerings and solutions, across multiple platforms, that will allow them to pick and choose services that speak to their unique needs.
Telcos are able to utilise machine learning and big data technology to provide insights into customer behaviour, needs and wants. With this insight, Telcos can better target customer segments and develop targeted solutions and offerings.
Telcos also need to build customer relationships to foster brand loyalty. This can be done by creating a great customer experience through the use of virtualisations and self-service platforms. This allows customers to access information, insights and data at the click of a button. Not only does this enhance convenience, but it reduces frustration on the consumers as they are able to find the information they need without wasting time going through a call centre.
Since security is also a concern for consumers of the future, it is essential that Telcos offer solutions to enhance security. Research suggests that 1 in 4 customers has a strong concern about storing personal data. Telcos need to make data security a key component to attract and retain consumers. This requires Telcos to work with partners to create trusted security features that are risk-driven to enhance security. Examples of this include the use of multi-factor biometric authentication and consolidated single access platforms that stores all consumer data. Telcos will also need to communicate the security measures they are taking to consumers and put their minds at ease that all the necessary security steps are being taken.
Telcos need to keep their finger on the pulse of their customer’s expectations and identify new revenue streams. This can be a challenge for Telcos who would need to analyse individual consumer lifestyles, their usage, what they are using their mobile devices for as well as developing personal packages that speak to the needs identified. This is why Telcos often choose to partner with specialised software providers who are able to develop and implement the necessary technology to make this all possible.
Why partner with a specialised software provider?
Over the last 38 years, Adapt IT Telecoms has seen the telecommunications industry shift, change, and transform depending on the needs of its consumers. This has been significantly accelerated in recent years by digital transformation, which has transformed the industry as we know it. New and emerging technologies have allowed us to adapt our technologies and to answer to both consumers’ and our business partners’ needs. As a software provider, we aim to assist Telcos in increasing their technology portfolios and developing adaptive and resilient solutions which allow them to stay relevant to their consumers’ changing needs as well as the consumers of the future.
Today, the way we live and work is dependent on connectivity. With this dependence comes a need for more digital functionality and services that reduce the complexities of consumers’ lives and give them more choice. To stay ahead, the telecommunications industry and Telcos specifically must work towards understanding their different customer bases, both urban and rural consumers, their needs, wants, and lifestyles and find ways to personalise their offerings and services to suit these. If utilised efficiently, technology will enable Telcos to provide solutions to customers that enhance accessibility, flexibility and control. The consumers of the future will continue to evolve, and with this, their needs and wants will change. This is why Telcos need to be one step ahead and continuously analyse what their future consumers are looking for.
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As the Global Head of Marketing and Business Development with 20 years of experience, Agnieszka’s expertise lies in the practical implementation of digital and traditional marketing strategies for B2C and B2B companies. Through her long-term, client-focused, strategic approach, and branding experience, she continues to develop innovative marketing plans that yield significant results. Now working in the SaaS industry, she oversees a multitude of solutions within the telecommunications industry including Customer Experience & Self-service, VAS, NextGen, IoT, FinTech, and Advanced Analytics.