We’re in the midst of a digital era and quickly moving towards the 4th Industrial Revolution. It’s no doubt that today, technology has become a standard part of life, rather than just a small aspect of it. And, this year at Mobile World Congress, we witnessed how new and innovative technologies will introduce greater efficiency, convenience and flexibility into business operations for service providers. Yet, with all this innovation happening in the back end, there’s one question I’d like to raise.
What impact do today’s innovations have on consumers’ thinking, behaviors and experience satisfaction levels?
- First thing first … the consumer’s voice.
Technology has given consumers a voice. The emergence of new digital methods, such as e-customer surveys, mobile rating apps and interactive chat bots have unlocked new pathways for customers to freely interact, express their opinions and attain better information. But, with a stronger voice, comes higher expectations.
Accustomed to real-time information and quick turnarounds, today’s customers will no longer be satisfied with the idea of heading down to their nearest service provider’s branch to settle bill payments or waiting 2-3 days to receive a response. Our ConsumerLab report on The Zero-Touch Customer-Experience conveyed that High customer effort impacts satisfaction levels – the number of satisfied users decreases by 30 percent if it takes more than 1 day to get things done. The reality is that today’s consumers want quicker and simpler business transactions, creating a need for service providers to implement new action plans to sustain consumer satisfaction levels.
- The promise of 5G … changing consumer interactions
5G has the potential to completely change the way we interact with wireless devices. Though the unknowns are many and there are still technical issues to be resolved, a 5G future ultimately depends on consumer and business expectations.
At MWC 2019, we focused on unlocking new consumer experiences with 5G, like plug and play technologies and real-time communications on multiple smart devices. It is important for service providers to be aware that with these new technologies, consumers will expect ultra-high speeds, consistent quality and seamless network performances. Here, reliable networks will become central to driving user loyalty towards service providers, where upgrading to 5G has become crucial to keep up with growing appetites for higher speeds and better experiences.
Across the globe, data consumption is increasing by more than 40% every year and according to the latest Mobility Report, video will account for 75% of network traffic by 2024. For close to 60% of smartphone users, the highest expectation for 5G is delivering speeds faster than current mobile networks, starting with mobile broadband.
Smartphone users have developed their own implicit mental index to measure mobile broadband performance. The top three mental indices developed by smartphone users include: webpage load time, content upload time (e.g. pictures on social media channels) and video load times on apps like YouTube, as highlighted in Towards a 5G Consumer Future report.
It’s not only current network performances steering consumer perceptions, it’s the continuous improvements that make the difference, such as better battery life, reliability and the ability to connect to other devices and IoT platforms. While all this may create various challenges for service providers, 5G carries the promise of enabling a much smoother management process.
- Meeting today’s consumer expectations
When service providers deploy 5G, consumer satisfaction will depend on consistent and effective network evolution. It’s imperative to understand whether the vision set out by current wireless technologies and telecom service providers' offerings – specifically mobile broadband plans – meet today’s consumer expectations.
In order to understand customer experiences in real-time, service providers need detailed insights and the importance of measuring customer experiences daily cannot be underestimated. Ericsson Expert Analytics measures the perceived customer experience for each subscriber, providing actionable insights based on data collected in real-time from network elements and probes, as well as from operations and business support systems.
Consumers don’t always know what they will do next, at least not as well as artificial intelligence and a lot of data can. This year at MWC we showcased our Ericsson Operations Engine, built to help transform operations with efficiency, performance and security. Our operations engine uses AI and automation to dynamically allocate resources, ensuring consistent quality across the network. With the ability to rapidly solve complex challenges, AI is essential to network design, operations, and optimization.
The challenge for service providers preparing for 5G is to keep up with the high expectations of early adopters. A shift towards service-based pricing or perhaps creating a sense of the unlimited, could be a savvy move by carriers, as the transition to 5G ultimately will not involve consumers paying per gigabyte but rather an unlimited future.