Consumers had enough of mobile operators


Half of customers would switch to Google, Apple or Facebook if they started up a mobile service

There is widespread consumer dissatisfaction with mobile network operators across Europe and the US, linked to a lack of investment in digital. More than half of the 48 operators surveyed registered a zero or negative net promoter score (NPS), meaning consumers would not recommend their provider to friends or colleagues.

The rise of internet and mobile applications is driving a significant shift in what consumers expect from their mobile operator, according to a report by the Digital Transformation Institute at Capgemini Consulting, the global strategy and transformation consulting arm of the Capgemini Group.

Physical channels are falling out of favour, with only 8% of consumers surveyed now considering the existence of stores as a must-have for mobile operators. Consumers want an improved digital experience and yet only a third (36%) report that their operator is providing it, the survey of over 5,700 customers of mobile network providers across nine countries in the US and Europe shows.

The focus on digital customer experience is paying off for some operators. The survey shows a positive correlation between the use of digital channels and the NPS of mobile operators. High-NPS operators also garnered an average revenue growth of 33% over 2012-14, whereas the low-NPS operators suffered a revenue decline of 7% on average over the same period.

This group of high performing digitally-focused brands are either smaller operators that have been launched in the last decade or larger players that have managed a transition, but all have adopted either a digital-only operating model or a hybrid model with a greater focus on digital channels.

However, the majority of operators are struggling to adapt to the shifting needs of users. Only a third of consumers believe that their operator has used digital technologies – website, mobile apps and social media – to improve the customer experience.

As a result, telcos are facing the risk of losing customers. Almost half (46%) of consumers who rated their mobile operator “poor” in terms of use of digital technologies plan to switch within the next year, compared with 14% of consumers who rated their operator “great” in the use of digital technologies.

Such is the demand for a new type of customer experience that more than half of mobile network users (58%) said that they would switch over to a digital-only operator that exclusively uses digital channels to interact with customers.

Romain Delavenne, vice president, Capgemini Consulting, said: “Consumer expectations of telco providers have changed, but many operators have failed to provide what they demand, leading to low customer satisfaction. Slow roll out of digital services lies at the heart of the issue and this is a clarion call for operators to accelerate their digital transformation efforts or risk disruption from digital-only players.”

The study finds that the benchmark for a quality customer experience is being shaped by the digital and personalised experience users receive from over the top players such as Google, Apple and Facebook. Almost half (44%) of mobile users would switch to one of these brands if they introduced a mobile service, with 48% citing ‘better service quality’ and 23% ‘personalised experience’ as the main reasons to switch.

Delavenne concluded: “It is clear that investment in digital is key to improving customer satisfaction, however many incumbent operators are saddled with legacy platforms and distribution channels that make true digital transformation difficult. The success of the newer breed of digital-only or hybrid operators in driving customer satisfaction and revenue growth provides a transition path for more established competitors. For many incumbents, realising quickly the benefits of digital could be tackled by launching greenfield, digital-only operations in the short term while continuing with core digital transformation efforts in parallel.”


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