The Future of Mobile is All About the Customer

New players threaten to turn the industry on its head and tap into a generally unhappy customer base

Steve Rudolph, Vice President, Business Line – Communications & Media, Pegasystems

The current model for mobile operators is not working: two-year strict contracts, poor online experiences and highly inconsistent in-store customer interaction models are not going to keep mobile customers coming back for more. Today’s customers are empowered to make quick decisions based on the level of service they’re getting – and they expect a lot. If their service expectations aren’t being met, they will look to the next provider and take their business elsewhere, and the strict parameters set by mobile operators to lock their business in isn’t going to work for much longer. New digital players are picking up on this and are threatening to turn the industry on its head and tap into a generally unhappy customer base.

Yes, it sounds daunting, but new, digital competition should be seen as less of a threat and more of an opportunity. After all, historically, disruption has caused some of the most stable industries to completely transform their business model in order to meet the needs of the empowered consumer – and have transformed it for the better. This is an opportunity for mobile operators to prepare their business for the imminent future, and ultimately create happier, more loyal customers.

Mobile operators also have insight into impending threats, making it a bit easier to adjust. Digital disruptors are going to offer the untethered experience consumers are craving, and customer service is going to matter more than ever. Because the future of the industry is very clear, mobile carriers should take action now to transform their businesses by becoming as digital as possible, connecting every channel so that a customer receives optimal, personalized service at every touchpoint.

For mobile operators, a lot needs to change to compete with digital disruptors. Typical sales and service strategies rely largely on siloed channels and emphasize physical retail and traditional call centers, an archaic methodology that does not appeal to modern consumers. Here are five ways that mobile operators can support the empowered customer:

1.       Create a smarter business: A smart business needs to have intelligent interactions with customers. This means if customers begin a query online, pause and go to the store later that day, the representative will have the necessary information to assist them and recommend a relevant solution. This intelligent insight throughout various touchpoints will create the best use of customers’ time, which we all know is invaluable. Smart, real-time analytics and a holistic view of the customers’ issues will go a long way by delivering truly personalized customer service.

2.       How connected are you?: The online retail space is such a powerful tool that mobile operators have yet to take full advantage of it. While the online experience has improved over the years, it’s nowhere near where it needs to be and can be a deterrent for customers who are used to a seamless online experience in other industries. An easy-to-navigate and service-oriented experience is pivotal for customer interaction. Additionally, the use of real-time analytics and historical data can help make intelligent product/service recommendations and offer personalized assistance with any issue.

3.       Avoid the “I’m still on hold…” frustration: Traditional care models have customers waiting in long call queues, clicking through many menus and speaking with representatives who don’t have access to the right information to make the experience personalized and useful. The simple (and often simplistic) answer is self-serve; however, given the complexity of telecommunications transactions, creating a great self-serve experience can be challenging. To do so, use machine learning and decisioning that enables websites to predict when a customer might be visiting for a service reason and customize their web experience accordingly. When a customer starts online and transitions to speaking with a service rep, make sure that customer’s history is available for service reps to make accurate recommendations. Another option is to offer intelligent open source care that matches customers with similar issues to solve their own problems.

4.       Create an omni-channel experience: Customers have many of ways of connecting with brands. Whether it’s an in-person retail experience or an online interaction, customers’ specific history with that brand needs to follow them, and the quality of each interaction cannot change depending on the channel – there needs to be consistency. Mobile operators need to have the right information available before the customer chooses to interact with them whether it’s in store, online, or via a call center. Connecting these channels will contribute to an overall better customer experience.

5.       Apply science to sales: Use the same scientific approach that has been used for years by mobile operators when it comes to 1 to 1 marketing and apply it to frontline sales and service. Consider a variance of peak time activities based on real-time traffic, leverage structured gamification to motivate your sales staff, and develop self-learning feedback loops to ensure you’re understanding what’s working, and what isn’t.

The mobile revolution will be led by business and enabled by technology. The technology to win this revolution is available, it just needs to be implemented in a smart, strategic way to make customers happy. Customer-centric service should be the main focus of any industry, particularly when digital disruptors are becoming an imminent threat. Mobile operators have a huge advantage in that they can see these threats coming and combat them with the technology and business structure to win back their customers.


Steve Rudolph has more than 15 years of experience in mobile, fixed and cable, as well as a focus in customer lifecycle management and sales/service operations. At Pegasystems, he is responsible for establishing strategic direction and growing its global presence in Communications & Media. Earlier in his career, Steve was a partner with McKinsey & Company in the telecommunications practice. He also has extensive international experience from roles across Latin America, Europe and Asia.