Are We Ready for the Telco Customer of 2022?

A Smith

Digital technology isn’t just transforming businesses — it’s changing people too, and if Telco is going to be relevant to the customer of the future, there’s work to be done.

The first thing we need to recognize is that younger people are getting older. Not the most dazzling insight, admittedly, but for digital technology it has a particular significance. By 2022, the generational split between digital natives (millennials and Gen Zs that have grown up in the digital era and can’t remember a world without the internet) and older folks (who supposedly struggle with computers and email) will be close to meaningless. By then, if you’re under 40, you’ll have grown up with a communication device in your pocket and you’ll barely be able to remember a time when getting online from anywhere wasn’t as natural as turning on a tap.

By 2022, consumers will be fully digitally evolved. But what should that mean to Telcos? How do they align with the mindset of their future customers?

As we move into the 2020s, it seems inevitable that people will be spending even more of their time on digital devices — but that doesn’t mean they’re not busy. The myriad distractions of online living and working will make them less keen than ever to spend precious digital time on longwinded commercial exchanges.

So, transactions need to be quick. As Amazon demonstrated long ago, not only did 1-Click massively drive up sales, but customers actually liked it. Even as it was persuading them to open their wallets, they were thinking, “Thanks Amazon, for saving me time and making my life easier!”

Amazon didn’t succeed by just putting a bookshop online. It succeeded by pioneering fast, close-to-effortless digital commerce and in so doing, raised the bar for all its competitors (thanks again, Amazon!).

This principle applies equally in Telco. Tomorrow’s customers aren’t interested in traveling to phone stores (assuming any have survived the flight to digital commerce). Chances are, they’re not interested in sales journeys at all. They’re interested in offers they can accept or reject almost as fast as they can swipe left or right. So, propositions need to be simple, requiring minimal clarification. Pricing needs to be transparent, value explicit and any post-sale onboarding must be slick and largely invisible to the customer. And, when it comes to payment, the assumption is that if you’re tech-savvy enough to be using the service or buying the product, you’re unlikely to be wanting to file paper.

As well as thinking about process, Telcos perhaps need to ask what kind of businesses the customer of the future will be drawn to. People may be spending more time online, but they’re spending most of it on a small number of sites that have ballooned into search, retail, entertainment, lifestyle support and cloud service behemoths. These ‘digital leaders’ exert a gravitational pull on customers just through the size of their offering, making a land-grab for the customer’s limited attention and not just the consumer wallet.

Telcos are moving in this direction with increasing amounts of conveniently-packaged bundled content, but to compete in the digital market-space they need to go further. They must start thinking digital-first and exploiting their natural advantages when it comes to supporting mobile devices and network-dependent services. As IoT concepts rapidly proliferate, could Telcos be making more of the voice-activated device that’s in everyone’s pocket? Can they grasp the opportunity to offer more than connectivity to tomorrow’s enterprise?

Attracting customers is not all about what businesses do, or even how they do it. For many customers, sentiment is still an important factor. For many businesses, building a tribal mentality is vital in terms of retaining customers who may adhere to a community ethos and values (and by extension, to the brand) more than they do to relatively undifferentiated products or services. As Gen Z hits its teens, perhaps effort should be focused less on making them ‘Z-mobile customers’ and more on making them ‘Z-mobile people.’

As waves of digital transformation sweep over our business and working lives, Telcos can’t be left on the beach. That means anticipating and aligning with where consumers will be at least three years ahead and positioning to meet them. There’s a lot to be taken from the way that people are already behaving in digital markets and some fundamental lessons to be learned. Likely, in 2022, businesses that feel digital-first, have more to offer than simple connectivity, and with whose values consumers feel comfortable will be the preference of tomorrow’s digitally evolved customer.

Ready to dive deeper?

As digital transformation impacts almost every aspect of our lives, what can Telcos do to make sure they are anticipating customer needs? Read the in-depth discussion paper, Are We Ready for the Telco Customer of 2022?, to find out.

For more ideas on digital strategy, see MATRIXX and 451 Research’s paper Fast Tracking Telcos to Digital Transformation.

Want more information about how leading digital service providers such as Telstra, Vodafone and Yoodo are using MATRIXX solutions to underpin their digital transformation? Visit

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