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How Communications Service Providers Can Unlock Data To Personalize Customer Experiences

Communications service providers are sitting on a wealth of personal and geographic data. Here’s how to use that information to give customers what they want.

Woman working beside computer servers. Communications service providers.
Every customer interaction is a chance to build brand loyalty, increase satisfaction, and offer the most tailored products and services. [MaaHoo Studio / Stocksy United]

Customers crave connection and entertainment, relying heavily on fast internet connections and dependable communications service to deliver it. These customers provide communications service providers with a wealth of data, such as demographics, service history, usage patterns, and communications preferences.   

However, not all providers take advantage of the personalization this data can offer. For example, instead of blasting their entire customer base with a promotion for a mobile plan bundled with a sports TV package, providers can target sports fans who are more likely to jump at the opportunity. Personalized messaging increases open rates by 14%, reducing the risk of customers deleting the email and never giving it a second thought.

Why are providers unable to personalize customer experiences? A major hurdle is the fact that much of the customer data is sitting in siloed systems. For example, fragmented data sources due to mergers and acquisitions often mean providers don’t recognize duplicate customer listings, let alone deliver personalized offers and services. 

So, how can providers get past these hurdles and create the experiences that their customers expect? Here are five simple questions they can start with. 

1. Is your data accessible? 

For communications service providers, a “360-degree view of the customer” means an understanding of every interaction and preference: calls, chat sessions, email engagement, page views, campaign interactions, buying power, tech use, and more. Unfortunately, while 88% of business leaders agree using data across the organization is essential, most lack a cohesive data strategy. 

To make this data accessible, providers need to unify systems, teams, and data to better understand what a customer needs, when they need it, and why. Here are three easy steps to achieve that: 

Step 1: Connect disparate data sources with application programming interfaces. 

With Mulesoft, providers can use application programming interfaces (APIs) to pull critical customer information into a single platform. 

Step 2: Maintain a single source of truth. 

Customer relationship management (CRM) plays a natural and critical role here. Solutions like Salesforce Customer 360 help consolidate data across systems onto a single platform. Understanding your customer requires a common view into their interactions and experiences across marketing, commerce, sales, service, and operations.

Step 3: Connect data across teams and functions. 

Providers can only achieve a true, 360-degree view when everyone is working off the same data. Learn how you can build one team around the customer.

2. Is your data understandable?

Understanding data is key to planning and executing a personalized recommendation to customers. Easy-to-use visualization tools like Tableau take abstract data and make it concrete. 

For example, customer experience professionals can see how network events affect customer satisfaction and the effect of next best action recommendations on average revenue per user (ARPU). They can also evaluate campaigns, identify emerging trends, and overlay demographic data with propensity-to-buy information to decide where to lay new fiber networks.

The bottom line is, when service providers visualize data, they can immediately grasp its significance. As a result, they can: 

  • Better target the right customers with the right offer
  • Improve campaign performance
  • Drive conversion for their products and services
  • Optimize network resources
  • Make targeted investment decisions

3. Are your teams working together?

In addition to getting access to your data and making it understandable, giving teams the right tools to collaborate in real time and power digital workflows will allow them to:

  • Launch new products and services faster
  • Win more deals and deliver error-free orders
  • Bring together the right experts to solve support cases quickly
  • Gather feedback from franchise operators and retail employees to reduce churn

4. Are you listening to your customers?

Every customer interaction is a chance to build brand loyalty, increase satisfaction, and offer the most tailored products and services. Providers can complement their customer data with qualitative insights. Here are examples:

  • Launch listening tours, advisory boards, and focus groups with customers and partners that give context to the data 
  • Add these insights into the planning by assigning an owner to each metric or measurement
  • Add an analysis tool on top of this qualitative feedback to make sense of what customers are really trying to say 
  • Close the feedback loop by communicating to customers so they know what the provider  doing, not able to do, and what, if anything, they may need from them

5. Can you make personalization a reality? 

Start with a customer data platform (CDP) to centralize the data and provide more insightful, actionable, and trusted data at your fingertips. Communications service providers can create a unified customer profile by connecting identities, engagement data, customer orders, loyalty, marketing journeys, and privacy management.

Adding artificial intelligence (AI) can help take that data to the next level by analyzing and identifying correlations, and recommending actions that drive desired outcomes. For example: 

  • Predict which sales leads and opportunities will convert and why
  • See historical browsing and purchase data to determine which channels, content, products, and messaging customers will most likely respond to
  • Leverage churn predictions tools that show the customers’ risk of churn and why, their likelihood of conversion, and the chance of delayed payments. Recommend actions to minimize churn and maximize customer lifetime value

Consider this example. A customer with an older mobile device is experiencing buffering delays when streaming video content. They’re considering an upgrade and have opened three promotional emails about an offer for the new iPhone 13 Pro Max. They visited your website and added it to a cart, but then abandoned the cart. 

If the customer then walks into your retail store, a retail consultant can view these interactions and immediately guide the customer to that device. If the customer needs an extra incentive to buy, an AI-based recommendation can authorize the sales person to offer a premium streaming service add-on to close the sale.

Get started: Turn smart actions into great reactions

Communications service providers provide the critical connection between customers and their work, school, entertainment, and more. By using a data-driven approach to engage with customers, providers can have targeted, intentional and most importantly, personalized engagement with their customers.


Jonathan Phillips is the senior director of communications industry marketing at Salesforce. He brings over 25 years of experience in business and technical architecture, solution consulting, and enterprise applications of CRM, contact centers, and telecommunications networks. As a well-respected industry leader, he regularly engages with customers and speaks at conferences and training sessions around the world.

More by Jonathan

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