The customer experience will be a major area of focus for operators in 2012, following a dawning realisation that those companies that do not give their customers the time, investment and focus they require will see them defect to rivals in an increasingly competitive market.
With several features on how to manage and improve the customer experience coming up, telecoms.com has tapped customer management specialist WDS for ten predictions for the industry in 2012.
Data sharing: With more and more connected devices entering our lives, ‘connected homes’ are set to gain traction over 2012. According to WDS, if mobile operators want to compete, they will need to start getting more creative, and generous, with their data sharing policies.
“Consumers don’t want to consciously think about the device or network to which they’re attached. They want to buy a data allowance and use it (at their discretion) across the multiple devices on which they’ve come to rely,” the company said.
Smartphones galore: Along with the evolution of open-source operating systems, such as Android, lower component costs, and an insatiable consumer appetite for mobile products there have been many new handset manufacturers entering the market, largely located across Asia, and that trend shows no sign of slowing down over 2012.
Smartphones aiding purchasing decisions: The use of the smartphones will continue to enhance the physical practice of shopping. With the advent of MMS, consumers began to take photos of an item in store, and send it to a partner or friend for opinion. Today, they can quickly scan a barcode using their smartphone to view user reviews, price comparisons and retailers within walking distance. For retailers, this places greater pressure to compete instantaneously and not only with their physical competitors but online ones too.
Google to lobby for patent laws overhaul: With patent disputes over smartphone technologies dominating headlines in the industry of 2011, WDS believes that 2012 will see Google drawn further into legal dramas. The firm predicts that Google will orchestrate a mass collaborative lobbying effort to bring about regulation of software patents to restore competitive technology design and evolution in the smartphone market.
Nokia’s comeback: Although Apple and Google, with its Android partners, incited the take up of smartphones, Nokia could join them in becoming a major player in the smartphone market in 2012.
“When a perceived ‘lower’ social group, in this case the mass market, adopts a product, it ceases to be desired by the leaders in the perceived ‘higher’ social group, in this case, the innovative early adopters,” explained WDS. “Has the iPhone had its day? Is it simply too clichéd? Probably not just yet, but we certainly think that there’s a growing base of consumers looking for something new.” Nokia, with its new Windows Mobile handsets, may just offer this to the market over the coming year.
Brand loyalty to create differentiation: With handset manufacturers struggling to make their smartphones stand out from the crowd, 2012 will see OEM brands look for more defining USPs. According to WDS: “We believe this will be in the form of an optimised cross-device user experience across the OEMs full device portfolio.” The firm cited Sony as an example, which recently bought Ericsson’s stake in their Sony-Ericsson joint venture. It will now bring its smartphone division under the parent brand alongside its other consumer electronics and may look to integrate its product offering to create a unified experience, in a bid to boost brand loyalty. 2012 is set to see some OEMs proceed with collaborations across different device categories and software platforms in a bid to remain competitive in this changing landscape.
Consumers go over the top: Since internet-connected handsets first made their way onto the market, VoIP and chat solutions have been considered a threat to operators’ core revenue; and in 2012, this is only set to increase. Consumers are now equipped with faster smartphones connected to faster networks, and this will make using such services even more attractive. However, while threats exist, operators have control over both infrastructure and billing relationships and will need to find a compromise that protects core revenue while protecting customer loyalty.
Death of the netbook: Netbooks are yesterday’s news and the focus of manufacturers on tablets will signal the death of the notebook, according to WDS.
Emphasis on customer experience: With price wars over the years making the mobile handset market increasingly price sensitive, operators cannot continue to invest and encourage innovation under this degree of price pressure. They must reverse the trend and win back customer loyalty based not on price, but service and brand value.
Windows Phone 8: While the hype around the tablet market has focused in on the battle between iOS and Android, Windows Phone 8 could represent a very real and credible threat to the iPad3 launch, which is expected this year. Microsoft’s upcoming OS, Windows Phone 8, will be compatible with both Intel and ARM architectures, meaning it will run on both PC and mobile.
“It may be a little late to the tablet party but with wide industry support, Microsoft could just present the most credible threat to Apple’s dominance yet,” said WDS.
Telecoms.com is publishing feature length content on customer experience management in the telecoms space in February. Sign up to get it in your inbox.