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Telecommunications Trends to Learn from: State of Salesforce 2021

Telecommunications Trends to Learn from: State of Salesforce 2021

Find out some of the key points from The State of Salesforce 2021 Telco industry booklet from IBM and Salesforce here.

So much has changed over the last 18 months in the light of global events, so it seems only natural that last year’s The State of Salesforce 2020-21: Special Edition was unique compared to previous years’ reports and the current State of Salesforce Future of Business which has just been released!

As Luis Chiang, Salesforce Innovation Unit Leader, IBM EMEA, explained, “COVID had a deep impact in terms of digitalisation, across all industries and all business functions. We realised we were looking at a real opportunity to uncover what impact, changes, and trends were happening that were unique to specific industries.”

So what does this look like in practical terms?

IBM included five industry deep dives to find out how businesses in Financial Services, Telecommunications, Healthcare & Life Sciences, Consumer Packaged Goods/Retail, and Manufacturing are tackling the challenges and changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve already looked at how businesses in the Consumer Packaged Goods industry adapted their Salesforce strategies in response to the global crisis; here’s how the telecommunications industry has adjusted.

Telecommunications challenges in 2020/2021

The telecommunications industry faced its own unique challenges as a result of the pandemic. While some industries faced forced closures, telecommunications service providers needed to rapidly change priorities. Reliable and uninterrupted connectivity has become more vital than ever before for people across the globe to remain in touch and conduct business while being remote.

“During the pandemic, the traditional network services provided by telecommunications companies kept people connected,” said Rahul Kumar, Senior Partner and Global Leader for Digital Engagement for the Telecommunications, Media & Entertainment Industry at IBM, “but there was more to it than that. We saw the way our telecommunications clients understood the situation, quickly pivoted to introduce valuable offerings, made huge investments to ensure that the networks stayed up and running, and accelerated their digital transformation initiatives to enable customers to interact with them digitally, with an overall improved experience.”

Actions like ensuring their services remained affordable for people who found themselves financially challenged, making sure everyone had the right level of broadband connectivity they needed to work or study from home, and offering entertainment services to keep people sane while stuck at home, all added to the industry’s role in supporting their customers.

When many consumers were facing challenging financial times, maintaining their prices (moving to unlimited data packages and in some cases even reducing prices significantly), was crucial to keeping customers’ trust. With the retail locations closed and all of the contact centre workforce having to be enabled to work remotely, a lot of work in terms of rapid digital transformation of internal applications and infrastructure was required. “We saw some of our clients pivot to undertake three years’ worth of their digital transformation initiatives in a single year,” said Rahul.

How the industry handled challenges

One thing that was apparent across all countries during the various lockdowns was an increased need for seamless omnichannel experiences. With many brick-and-mortar stores having to close temporarily and not all customers necessarily being digital natives, businesses had to offer a digital experience suitable to clients’ abilities and infrastructure.

“The digital experience that companies were offering had to be simple and seamless,” said Tobias Spiker, Telecommunications & Media Industry Leader for EMEA, IBM, “and while that was quite a challenge to Communications Service Providers (CSPs), it was also a great opportunity to implement the right digital transformation programmes.”

A leading Communications Service Provider in Latin America is a prime example of this, having previously consolidated all of their customer information and sales and service processes into the Salesforce platform. Salesforce provides their business with a single, 360-degree view of the customer, giving a consistent, seamless omnichannel experience.

The State of Salesforce 2021 and its associated industry booklets identified the following trends:

Trust is the new currency of customer engagement

There are multiple elements of this present in the telecommunications industry, including the security of information, understanding customers, consistency across channels, offering a consistent response, and secure transactions with CSPs.

All of these factors, along with the sheer scale of digitalisation initiatives increasing customer expectations during and after the pandemic, meant that companies had to focus on building and maintaining trust.

58% of the telecommunications businesses that responded to the State of Salesforce 2021 survey have increased their focus on building brand loyalty and trust in response to COVID-19.

Human-centred AI creates new business value

Many CSPs already use AI in customer service activities, but the pandemic brought about a different need, as Tobias explained. “With many channels shut down or overwhelmed by client requests, there was an increased focus on sales and service activities requiring AI capabilities. This is a transition from existing sales approaches, and one where Salesforce can play a very important role.”

49% of telecommunications organisations surveyed reported an increase in the use of enterprise AI this year, compared to 20% last year.

Employee safety and well-being build resilient business

The most common immediate reaction among businesses to COVID-19 was making sure that employees were safe, which for many meant the transition to working from home. Balancing safety with being able to continue in business was crucial, and something that the Salesforce platform was able to support.

This was a real business opportunity for the telecommunications industry, compared to other industries. “We saw CSPs providing solutions to their B2B clients that enabled them to allow their employees to safely work remotely,” said Tobias.

Covid-19 widens the gap between the digital “haves” and “have-nots”

The pandemic accelerated the need for digital transformation, but there was a huge expectation gap between consumers and the businesses they deal with, something that the telecommunications industry can support other industries with. As Rahul explained, “There is no other option but to digitalise interactions and operations to allow businesses to address customers’ needs and delight them.”

With the move towards 5G happening, customers need consistent and exceptional digital experiences, and CSPs are well placed to ensure that happens. “Once the network capabilities are available for 5G, the next step is to position the new digital services in the right way – with new and differentiated experiences for customers, the digital nature of interactions, and the change in culture and mindset,” said Rahul, “The Salesforce platform is well positioned to enable our clients to capture these future digital opportunities and innovations.”

Find out more about the most up-to-date telecommunications trends and strategies for success in The State of Salesforce: Industry Perspectives.

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