Digitization has permeated every corner of the modern world, drastically changing the way consumers and business users alike go about their days and interact with companies and brands. The telecom industry is no different in this regard, and telcos are finding new opportunities to leverage technology and expand the use of digital platforms.
One of the cornerstones of digital transformation is improving the customer experience by not only taking advantage of various connected touchpoints, but unifying them in a single, cohesive environment. Customer-facing cloud portals provide precisely that for telcos, creating a comprehensive platform for users to manage various aspects of their account and carrier relationship.
To really capitalize on this opportunity, telecom companies should look for these three must-have features in any customer-facing cloud portal:
“Customers expect some control over account management.”
1. Self-service on-demand capabilities
Customers everywhere today expect to have some control over account management, and do not want to wait for a company to respond to a query or service request when they have the option to do it themselves. Whether it’s offering troubleshooting tools or online billing management platforms, telcos should provide their customers some degree of agency to control their accounts.
Salesforce contributor Nicola Brookes noted that customer portals serve a critical function in this regard, giving users tools to manage their accounts, answer questions and address problems without ever needing to pick up a phone or wait for an email response.
For instance, bandwidth-on-demand can be a powerful feature to include in a telecom cloud portal. Users can increase their bandwidth at a moment’s notice without needing to call an account manager or carrier representative and have the terms of contract drastically changed. Instead, they can simply select to pay for a temporary increase in bandwidth to meet situational requirements.
Other popular on-demand options include SD-WAN, vCPE and Interconnects, among many others. Customers should have the ability to add or build out these services as needed at any time.
2. Single pane of glass for a consolidated view of telecom services
Whatever features are included in a telecom portal, customers don’t want to have to jump through a lot of hoops to take advantage of them. That means simplifying the interface so every tool and service is readily available through a single pane of glass. Having a consolidated view here is important because telecoms have historically been known to use separate portals for multiple services. Creating one platform to manage every aspect of a user’s account will provide a major competitive advantage.
User experience is critical to any platform’s success, and empowering customers to spin up anything from bandwidth-on-demand and SDN, to SD-WAN services and next-generation firewalls from one platform will greatly improve satisfaction levels.
3. Consolidation of account management
Likewise, customers are looking for simpler approaches to every facet of account management. There’s no need to make telecom users hunt around for different platforms to handle services like billing management, troubleshooting or service management. Everything should be readily available from a single portal, right at the user’s fingertips.
If, for instance, a customer is experiencing a service delivery problem, they can access troubleshooting tools to help diagnose and resolve the issue on their own. If they determine that the problem is more severe than anticipated or cannot be easily identified, they also have the ability to escalate the issue from the very same portal.
Likewise, customers can use the same portal to get price quotes on new services without needing to involve an account manager or sales associate. Considering that Gartner expects 85 percent of customer accounts will be managed without a human brand representative by 2020, it’s safe to say that users will really gravitate toward this kind of self-determination.
Above all else, keep in mind that the features make the portal. The right package of services will easily appeal to telecom users and drive customer satisfaction. Be sure that your platform includes a comprehensive list of features that can be accessed through that one portal. Customers want a combination of simplicity, responsiveness and convenience. Hit those checkboxes, and you’ll be golden.