Cheng Kian Khor is Director of Communications Industry Strategy for Salesforce in the Asia-Pacific region. Cheng Kian has 24 years of experience in the telco industry, in a range of consulting, chief architect, and global solution leader roles at leading companies. More by Cheng Kian.
The COVID-19 pandemic pushed more customers online, and they are staying there. Now it’s up to companies to meet customers online and offer digital-first experiences.
According to a recent Salesforce State of the Connected Consumer report, 88% of customers expect companies to accelerate digital initiatives due to COVID-19.
This demand for digital engagement presents an opportunity for communications service providers (CSPs).
Some CSPs are already moving from selling connectivity to becoming digital-first service providers. Others are expanding their offerings and building lifestyle-focused digital commerce storefronts.
It’s an exciting time for Asia’s CSPs as many begin to redefine what telcos will look like in 2021 and beyond.
Singapore-based M1 is undergoing a digital transformation to be more agile and customer-centric, to better serve its customers in the digital world. Even through the crisis, the Singapore-based CSP has accelerated its digital transformation.
“Our vision is to become a digital-first telco and provide new experiences for our customers,” said Nathan Bell, Chief Digital Officer at M1. “This will involve driving new digital capabilities into the business and reimagining our ways of working so that we can add more value to every interaction.”
CSPs like M1 are using digitalisation to put customers in control. To achieve that, they must deliver consistent customer experiences across all digital channels.
M1 uses Salesforce Communications Cloud to enable customers to build their own plans. This was vital when customers were avoiding store visits during the pandemic. It also provides a solid foundation for ongoing digitalisation.
“More of our customers are looking for solutions that are available as they need them,” explained Bell. “We want our customers to know we are there to support them in their time of need. And that we can evolve to meet their ongoing requirements.”
Digitalisation also presents an opportunity for CSPs to embrace wider ecommerce. Some are now offering a broader range of merchandise, goods, and accessories. These are often bundled as attractive offers and promotions. From gaming chairs to hairdryers and apparel, some CSPs are diversifying their product catalogues and presenting slick digital storefronts.
But what do gaming chairs have to do with telecommunications services? Absolutely nothing! And that’s the point. CSPs are using ecommerce to expand beyond traditional telco products and services. This is part of their journeys to becoming genuine digital lifestyle brands.
Solutions like Salesforce Commerce Cloud help CSPs pivot towards digital sales. Commerce Cloud, for example, does the heavy lifting for CSPs. It enables companies to deliver pure digital commerce and digital-first mobile experiences.
With Commerce Cloud, CSPs can create personalised shopping experiences across all digital channels. Whether the customer wants to buy the latest smartphone release, or a new Xbox gaming console.
This opens an opportunity for CSPs to become so much more than a run-of-the-mill telco. Suddenly, the digital experience is no longer just about checking bills and phone plans. CSPs can become genuine digital-first lifestyle brands.
Of course, this is much easier said than done. Ecommerce has traditionally been an afterthought for CSPs. Cumbersome digital storefronts were typically bolted onto legacy systems.
This created scalability issues. For instance, the surge of new smartphone orders on launch day would often overload telco websites that were not designed to cope with peak order volumes. Custom legacy storefronts were also cumbersome and slow to market when adding new products or offers. That made it hard for many CSPs to scale up for Cyber Monday and Black Friday sales. All these meant that it was challenging for CSPs to leverage digital commerce opportunities.
That’s why CSPs are transitioning away from using heavily customised legacy platforms for commerce and customer engagement. Instead, they are embracing new digital-first, customer-centric cloud platforms.
Communications Cloud and Commerce Cloud enable CSPs to skip the legacy bolt-ons. Instead, they harness cloud connectivity to deliver pure digital commerce experiences. They also enable scalable digital storefronts and customer-centric mobile apps.
The future is bright for CSPs that understand the full potential of digitalisation.
Digital is an integral part of the post-pandemic world. To be successful, CSPs must meet customers online and deliver digital-first experiences. That’s how CSPs can become genuine digital lifestyle brands and unlock new growth opportunities.
But unlocking these opportunities is not possible with legacy platforms and ecommerce as an afterthought. Digital-first user experience and commerce must become a key component of business strategy. Digital-first cloud platforms like Communications Cloud and Commerce Cloud can help drive CSPs’ digital transformation.