The Intelligence Playbook for Communications Service Providers


Think about your favourite TV shows — the ones that keep you coming back for more. The writers consistently deliver continuity and variety, stitching together episodes with a common thread while keeping you interested and engaged. Now think about your customer experience. Are you doing the same? Do you offer convenient, consistent, and customised experiences that keep your customers coming back for more?

For communications service providers (CSPs), this isn’t easy. In fact, while their top priorities are innovating and connecting with customers in real time, their top three challenges are:

  1. Innovating
  2. Connecting with customers in real time
  3. Creating customer journeys across channels and devices*

This means their greatest opportunities are also their greatest challenges.

The best way to innovate, connect, and create unified journeys is to integrate data across every platform, department, and decision. Understanding that data is paramount in order to meet expectations and remain competitive.

How important is using data across the entire CSP organisation? Here’s what research shows:

Overcome Challenges

One of the biggest hurdles for many CSPs is the lack of a cohesive data strategy. As more systems connect, evolve, and get smarter with machine learning, there is more available data than ever before.

According to the IDC, the amount of data that’s subject to analysis is projected to grow 50x in just a few years.*

In addition, CSPs are addressing challenges from their own mergers and acquisitions (M&A). This can lead to incredible amounts of data aggregated under a single organisation. As a result, rich, useful data sits in silos. In order to effectively leverage data and meet customer expectations, CSPs need new ways to consolidate and activate their data.

Find Opportunities

There is so much opportunity for CSPs to deliver exciting new services if they can effectively expand their core services to not just include data, but take data-driven action. In other words, CSPs must move beyond the “right message, right channel, right time” mindset, take a proactive approach, and stay one step ahead of customers and competition. Put simply, CSPs need to master forward-moving action.

This playbook will detail how CSPs can undergo a customer-centric transformation to create a culture of data, and keep moving forward. The only way to achieve that is by unlocking, understanding, and taking action with data. Think: When CSPs take smart actions, it leads to great customer reactions.

Chapter 1: Unlock Your Data

21% of customers say their satisfaction with CSPs would increase if they received personalised interactions.*

Companies build trust when customers feel understood. And in order to understand customers, companies need to stop asking: How do we optimise our existing business? — and start asking: How do we put our customer in the center of our business? Imagine if a CSP increased their customer satisfaction score (CSAT) by 21% for their current customers. That would make a massive impact on their business.

The only way to ensure customer-centricity is to unlock data and make collaboration a top priority and, ultimately, a reality. After all, data is at the core of transformation.

The organisations that seize data-related opportunities see results. Most studies conclude the same thing: Companies that are more data-driven perform better on key business metrics like revenue growth, customer retention, and profitability.

The best way to approach unlocking data is to look at it as an opportunity to unify. This means implementing a lean tech stack at web scale using application programming interface (API) functionality to connect disparate systems. Unifying systems helps CSPs achieve a complete view of the customer.

Get a Complete View of the Customer

While a 360-degree view of the customer is the goal, it’s often difficult to achieve. First, let’s define what we mean by a 360-degree view: It includes every customer interaction and preference that relates to a company — calls, page views, campaign interactions, event attendance, buying power, tech use, and more. Basically, anything and everything that helps to better serve, identify, and predict customer needs.
In a Salesforce-commissioned study of nearly 500 business leaders, 80% agreed that a single source of customer truth would create “significant” or “indispensable” value for their company. Learn how Salesforce can help with Customer 360.

But once CSPs achieve a complete customer view, they have to know what comes next. Every customer interaction is an opportunity to sell more, build brand loyalty, and increase customer satisfaction. So start with one customer touchpoint, bring in stakeholders from all of the teams included in that touchpoint, and design ways to improve it using the single source of customer truth — from start to finish.

Then, ensure every employee feels integral to the process. Enable every department to share, collaborate, and deliver integrated experiences down to the most junior employees. Share goals and KPIs with peers outside your team — even those that don’t normally work together. Explore ways to help each other, encourage cross-functional collaboration, find goals worth sharing, and make that data actionable.

This unlocks the ability to understand what customers need, when they need it, and why. But CSPs can’t develop and implement this complete customer view without rethinking how they organise, access, and make use of their data.

Move Toward A Lean Tech Stack

Technology generates the reach and scale required to make customer-centricity an act of business.
However, 89% of IT leaders report data silos are inhibiting digital transformation initiatives. For example, a typical customer transaction crosses 35 technology systems. But only one-third of that data is integrated.*

To transition to a lean tech stack, CSPs need to replatform in the cloud, typically with global, hyperscale providers. This is where a rich ecosystem of developers are implementing agile, modular architectures that incorporate reusable data sets. The next step focuses on business processes — CSPs need an application programming interface (API) strategy that enables an extensible application network with massive reuse. Here, Salesforce focuses with a complete strategy around a business support systems (BSS) transformation:

  1. Digital marketing and commerce
  2. Customer relationship management (CRM)
  3. Integration
  4. Data

This strategy is critical to success because it:

  • Consolidates the number of tools needed for a workforce
  • Empowers employees closest to customers to deliver the right experiences at the right time
  • Delivers insights, recommendations, and actions, not just data
  • Makes customer data easily shareable
  • Keeps the company flexible and connected in an age of APIs, IoT, and the platform economy

Plus, moving away from legacy technology debt has never been more important. The role of IT is quickly evolving — enabling teams to compose low- and no-code apps with agility and governance to improve customer outcomes. It also reveals cross- and up-sell opportunities that may have otherwise gone unnoticed and improves internal operations and metrics like average handle time (AHT), first contact resolution (FCR), and post-contact processing (PCP) by:

  • Helping service teams tackle complex cases
  • Enabling more streamlined business processes
  • Decreasing margins of error
  • All of these benefits help CSPs to work smarter, not harder.

Connect Data with Managed APIs

Traditionally, organisations integrate data using custom point-to-point code. Custom code is the enemy of speed and agility — it breaks easily and creates bottlenecks because there are few people who understand it.

To effectively break down data silos and securely unlock data, APIs act as building blocks — wrapping various components (for example, inventory data or order status) so that they are easily discovered, understood, consumed, and secured. With API-led connectivity, different teams can easily access data and digital capabilities. They also give IT the tools to manage and secure the data at scale, increase organisation agility, and deliver connected experiences faster.

An effective API management platform helps CSPs by:

  • Improving operational efficiency and enabling new market opportunities powered at web speed instead of brittle point-to-point approaches
  • Unlocking data and processes from OSS/BSS to create consistent customer experiences across channels
  • Accelerating new product and channel development by empowering external ecosystems (for example, the network of producers, consumers, products, and services in a marketplace)
MuleSoft research shows that if customers don’t get the fully connected experiences they expect, 60% will leave for a competitor. Learn more about how you can properly utilise APIs to unlock your data with MuleSoft.

Next: Chapter 2: Understand Your Data

Take the next steps to make sense of your data with easy-to-use tools.

See how to:

  • Visualise data with analytics
  • Analyse data with artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Use data to inform decision-making