Telcos are Crashing the Digital Transformation Party

Jennifer Kyriakakis

If you imagine digital transformation as a party hosted by millennials, fueled by instant gratification, personal interactions and high expectations of a great experience, then the telecoms industry is only just arriving, and in some cases, they’re crashing the party.

Like a slightly awkward uncle, telcos have so far hung back, watching wide-eyed from the sidelines, as their twenty-something-year-old nieces and nephews take to the dance floor and embrace the new sounds and moves from the digital upstarts of the world.But of course mobile service providers are actually supposed to be the party hosts – not the guests – and the time to party is now.
Why is timing so crucial? Because the millennial generation is the biggest cohort in US history and they are emerging as the key target demographic for digital service providers in terms of both value and influence. As millennials reach their prime working and spending years, their impact on the economy is going to be huge. A recent in-depth McKinsey study of telecoms companies reveals an important link between profit margin and going digital; service providers which are hosting their own digital party by using digital as the main channel for sales have a profit margin 22 percent higher than other providers.

But satisfying millennial demands is a tough gig. They want exceptional customer service. A personalized experience. Self-care apps. Transparency, especially around payment and costs. Immediate responses, and control. They want you to be always-on and agile. Oh, and precise, too.

Unlike their parents, millennials will not settle for less – they want to feel like the guest of honor at the party every day, all the time. If they have a good experience they are far more likely to shout – loudly – about it on social media and in the form of glowing 5-star reviews.

The new generation of digital outfits, like Skype and Uber, who were early to the party, know that you only get one chance at a good first impression when it comes to millennials. That’s why they make it super-easy to open a new account in 5 minutes or less. The digital glitterati like Amazon, T-mobile and Whatsapp are catching millennial eyes (and attention) and have made good first impressions. This generation is spending more time and money with these brands than they are interacting with their mobile service provider, with a recent Capgemini study finding that 58 percent of consumers are willing to switch to a digital-only network provider.

If Telcos are serious about turning around their relationship with millennials and having any hope at instilling loyalty, they need to raise the bar and bring their new moves to the party – quick. Otherwise, you can bet another suitor will turn their heads, and that might not necessarily be another telco; competition could just as easily come from a brave new disruptor.

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