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Telcos must embrace digital transformation to drive customer retention


MAZIV, one of South Africa’s largest telecommunications group, is aggressively investing in digital transformation to drive superior customer experience and service excellence.

According to a recent survey by PWC, 90% of South African telco customers who were surveyed in 2022 expressed dissatisfaction with the level of service they received. Telcos ranked as the second worst performing sector of the economy in terms of sentiment. More than 55% of respondents to the survey indicated that they would stop purchasing from a brand (regardless of the brand) after having several negative experiences. Additionally, 32% of respondents stated that they would switch to a different brand if their experience was inconsistent.

As per the insights shared by Heydon Hall, the Chief Information Officer of DFA, it is imperative to focus on customer retention to avoid the risk of losing them due to negative experiences. “Bad customer experiences lead to churn; it is as simple as that – customer retention is key” says Hall.

While some industry experts tend to segment sentiment by sector, Hall believes that most companies are engaged in selling similar products or services, hence it is essential for every brand to strive for the best customer experience and sentiment by incorporating integrated processes, technologies, operating and communication models.

When it comes to telecommunications, customers are highly influenced by factors such as price, quality, and customer service. In fact, customer service is the topic of almost 45% of all telecommunications-related conversations, with the majority of it being negative. Common complaints include slow response times, inconsistent communication, and unclear solutions to issues.

Hall emphasises the importance of digital transformation in the service industry, “While many providers struggle to integrate various systems and navigate economic challenges, it is crucial to prioritise a streamlined go-to-market strategy, efficient service and support structures, by utilising an integrated digital approach, incorporating Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence and customer experience focused platform technologies such as the large investments being made into Salesforce, by both Vuma and DFA. These efforts are essential in offering customers an exceptional experience and should be the focus for service providers.”

Francois Swart, the Chief Technology Officer at Vumatel, says that digital transformation is a potent driving force that is compelling various industries to reconsider and restructure their approach to meeting customer needs and demands. The COVID pandemic and its consequent lockdown measures have further expedited the adoption of digital systems across all sectors. Furthermore, AI’s development and application within business process tools have made significant strides, but he adds, “It is important for businesses to view AI and bots as tools that can augment the capabilities of human employees instead of decreasing reliance on them.”

Hall further adds, “By incorporating AI-powered tools into customer service teams, companies can enhance their ability to engage with customers on a personal level and leverage data to resolve issues more efficiently.” This approach also enables businesses to achieve personalized interactions at a larger scale, such as expressing gratitude for a customer’s long-standing loyalty, while still addressing the fundamental human need for connection and empathy.”

Swart believes telecom companies must employ cutting-edge AI technologies and automation tools to remain competitive and achieve a thorough comprehension of their customers’ requirements, as well as their own service delivery and performance. Also, by embracing successful practices from other sectors, telecoms can accelerate their journey.

The company’s commitment to improving customer service is clear through their substantial investments in this area, says Swart “With the implementation of Salesforce CRM across the group, MAZIV is well-positioned to meet and exceed customer expectations while laying the groundwork for future advancements in AI capabilities and tools.”

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