Winning with the basics in digital telecommunications

That experience is all too common, though not universal. Research by MWC’s benchmarking unit, shows that a majority of the telecom operators that digitize their operations struggle when the transformation is measured by a key gauge of success: whether digital channels have become a major conduit for sales and service. Yet the analysis also reveals that a few operators do spectacularly well. Among the 50 global brands benchmarked,1 companies in the top quartile sign up 50 times more customers online than those in the bottom quartile do, for example.

Among the 50 global brands benchmarked, companies in the top quartile sign up 50 times more customers online than those in the bottom quartile do.

Significantly, the research also pinpoints what drives engagement with online sales and service—and therefore accounts for this vast disparity in performance. Irrespective of whether the operator is an incumbent or a challenger or the maturity of the local e-commerce market, what matters is a relentless focus on a relatively few basic measures along the customer life cycle. Here are seven of the most important, many of which have yet to be implemented by the majority of operators (Exhibit 1).

1. Attraction: Reach customers looking to buy

Telecom operators attract large volumes of traffic to their websites. Most of it comes to them directly—and hence largely free—when consumers type in a company’s web address. The amount that companies spend generating traffic from other sources varies widely. Among a group of 20 operators in Western Europe, top-quartile spenders on digital marketing outspend those in the bottom quartile by roughly 70 percent. But the issue isn’t just how much you spend. Where you spend the digital-marketing budget is just as important.

Although many companies have installed digital-marketing platforms to help them optimize campaigns, many still overspend on display, video, and social-media advertising. Those ads almost never generate as many website visits as paid searches and, to a lesser extent, online affiliate marketing (including multisector price-comparison sites)—the go-to places for people intent on a purchase—do. Among the Western European operators we benchmarked, paid searches and affiliate marketing accounted for about half of the digital budget but generated almost all of the orders (Exhibit 2).

Social-media advertising could well become more effective once prospective customers can buy telecom services directly through social-media apps. At the moment, however, that is by no means commonplace. People using social media tend not to stop whatever they are doing to visit a commercial website or external app. For now, paid searches and affiliate marketing not only generate the most traffic but do so at a lower cost per click than display, video, and social-media advertising—all while drawing in the very visitors most likely to make a purchase, which further improves the cost per order.

2. Conversion: Keep visitors moving toward a purchase

The benchmark shows that some operators enjoy conversion rates that are more than three times higher than those of their peers (Exhibit 3). To maximize conversion rates, campaign-fed traffic should go to a dedicated landing page, not a home page. Our research shows that with each additional page visitors must click through in the purchasing process, the chance that they will give up rises. Operators can cut the dropout rate if they present each page as a crucial element in a clearly designed customer journey. The following moves help:

  • Clearly demarcate product categories and customize suggestions. That might mean offering iPhone bundles to visitors coming in through iOS or macOS, for example, and Samsung plans for Android users.
  • Offer a choice of no more than three preconfigured plans. Don’t expect customers to construct every aspect of their plans by themselves.
  • Use sliders or similar interactive tools to help customers change parameters such as fiber speeds and data volumes on preconfigured plans, with prices adjusted automatically.
  • Use countdown clocks that tick away against offers to create a sense of urgency to buy.
  • Use “metro line” visuals that help customers understand where they are in the purchasing process and how many steps are still to come.
  • Visitors might not finish the purchasing process for many reasons, so make sure they can pick up where they left off if necessary. Consider sending visitors emails telling them that their choices have been saved.
  • To improve page design, use A/B testing, which can show, for example, whether a vertical or horizontal flow loses fewer visitors and whether customers are less daunted if data-entry fields are spread across several pages rather than concentrated in one.
  • Give customers 24 hours to provide required documentation (such as proof of residence or ID cards) by either uploading photos or adding them as email attachments. That avoids frustrating people who don’t have the documents on hand and may decide not to make a purchase as a result.

At every step of the customer journey on the browser of a mobile device, operators should encourage users to download a self-service app to facilitate checkout and the submission of documents, since photos of credit cards and passports taken on phones can easily be uploaded.

3. Fulfillment: Respond and deliver without delay

Winning an order is one thing; keeping it is another. Some telcos lose more than half of their online and offline orders before fulfillment; others fulfill almost 90 percent. Among the group of Western European operators we benchmarked, those in the top quartile in digital-fulfillment rates (sales as a percentage of digital orders) outperformed those in the bottom quartile by 30 percent.

Low fulfillment rates have various causes. Sometimes operators fail to catch credit issues early on and must decline customers later in the process. Sometimes logistical problems arise. Often customers change their minds during a legally mandated window because they either regret the purchase or have been tempted by win-back offers from their current operators.

Hence, the importance of short order cycles and fast follow-ups. Telcos should get in touch with customers as soon as possible if a home visit is required for installation and offer them direct access to a field-force-scheduling platform to book their own appointments. Some operators with high order-fulfillment rates even offer to let customers schedule appointments before they place orders. Of course, the faster that SIM cards and devices are shipped, the less likely win-back offers are to succeed.

Some of the simplest measures—such as verifying addresses and ensuring that customers will be home for the installation of fixed-line equipment—can make a difference. Here again, a self-service app on the devices of customers, notifying them without delay of an incoming delivery or a rescheduled technician’s visit, can be essential.

4. Activation: Push customers to download the app

Less than a third of the customers of the Western European operators benchmarked interact with their telecom provider digitally in any given month, and less than half are active over a 90-day period. That makes it hard to replace retail stores or call centers without upsetting customers who want help but can no longer find a local outlet or who endure long waits when they call help lines.

Among customers who are active, mobile access is important: more than half of telco page impressions come from mobile browsers. A slick website with mobile-first design is therefore still a must. But encouraging customers to download an operator’s app rather than go through a mobile browser encourages far more interaction (Exhibit 4). Moreover, app usage is inversely correlated with incoming call volumes at operators’ help centers. The best digital performers miss no opportunity to remind customers to download and use their apps.

Reminders can be made on websites and TV ads or when customers get in touch with call centers. SMS blasts to smartphones and QR codes prominently placed in stores and product packaging can also work. The telcos with the most active app users also offer generous rewards, such as a gigabyte of free data traffic for first-time registration or for making an in-app purchase.

For Western European retail banks, apps already account for more than half of all interactions with customers. Telcos still have a way to go, though some are surging ahead. As Exhibit 4 shows, Western European operators in the top quartile of app usage have upward of 350 percent more app log-ons a month than their bottom-quartile counterparts do.

5. Experience: Simplify the app to optimize usage

After an initial burst of activity, a majority of apps installed on average phones are never used again or uninstalled to free up storage, so a customer’s experience of an app must be great from the outset. Apps must be easy to configure. A customer’s SIM card should be recognized automatically and the app already prefilled with basic account information. Encourage customers to enable fingerprint authentication the first time they log on—biometric authentication can nearly double the number of customers who use an app regularly. Among the Western European operators benchmarked, monthly log-ons for apps with biometric authentication were 166 percent higher than for those without it. Yet only about a half offer it (Exhibit 5).

Once customers have opened an app, they should be able to find what they want instantly. Some of the most digitally advanced operators use predictive models to determine what each customer might want and adjust menu options accordingly. Most top-quartile performers in app usage do the following things:

  • They feature the top five or six use cases prominently on their apps’ home screens and make all others easily accessible through a prominent search function. Best practice is to offer the top 20 customer journeys.
  • They show customers who aren’t on unlimited plans their remaining allowance or balance as soon as they open the app.
  • They make a chat-with-an-adviser function and a clearly categorized FAQ section for self-help easily accessible.

6. Engagement: Send relevant app notifications only

One surefire way of disgruntling app users is to bombard them, outside the app, with emails and SMS or other messages. Once an app is installed, it should be the default communication channel between the operator and the customer unless the customer decides otherwise or regulations prevent it. The benchmarks show how effective the right kind of app notifications can be in promoting customer engagement: those targeted to a user’s profile and situation have more than twice as much chance of being accepted as one-size-fits-all blasts of offers do.

Targeted notifications might include offers of roaming packages to customers waiting in airport lounges, recharge credits to cost-conscious students, notifications about online security features sent around lunchtime to working parents, and start-of-the-season alerts to football fans pointing out that fiber connections—and a better viewing experience—are now available in their neighborhoods. Even if delivered through third-party apps, notifications that help users find fresh content, particularly streamed video content, keep app users interested. Apps are already the second-most-popular channel (after TV) for consuming media content.

7. Renewal: Increase customer loyalty with attractive deals

Some operators renew a third of their customer base online, and others renew none. Among the Western European operators benchmarked, 78 percent offered contract renewals through their websites but only 56 percent through their apps. There was a 27-percentage-point gap between the companies in the top and bottom quartiles in the proportion of contracts renewed online (Exhibit 6).

For an app to serve as the main renewal channel, it must be easy to use. It will also have to guarantee the same conditions offered through stores or customer-service phone lines. Operators must work to dismiss perceptions that the best conditions can be had only by haggling with call-center agents. They might, for example, guarantee that online deals won’t be beaten in other channels. Operators are increasingly aware that renewals, like new acquisitions, can be digitized, and both transactions benefit from the simplicity and transparency that customers expect from best-in-class digital providers.

The seven measures summarized in this article are only part of a broader and inevitably complex digital-transformation program that will include substantial organizational and cultural change. Despite that complexity, telecom operators must not lose sight of important tactical measures that can have a transformative impact. A handful of telecom operators have discovered what they are. Others would do well to learn from their example.


Post-digital culture shock



In brief

  • Digital changes all aspects of business. Organizational culture is no exception. What does that look like?
  • Companies are focusing on digital transformation to the sum of US$1.2 trillion globally, but can overlook the culture change needed for success.
  • Digital technologies can change the worker experience for better or for worse, depending on choices C-suite leaders make as they transform.
  • Digital brings new needs for workers, such as digital wellness, but also changes traditional needs like transparency and trust.


Digital changes the worker experience for better or for worse. You choose.

As the post-digital era begins, new technologies are defining workplace experiences across industries. Companies around the world are focusing on digital transformation to the sum of US$1.2 trillion globally, but many are overlooking the culture change necessary for success.

While leaders acknowledge these technologies benefit their bottom line, more importantly, they recognize these gains are only sustainable if their organization’s culture adapts and embraces new ways of working.

Organizations are moving beyond the transactional 20th-century model of employment to a post-digital one where their workers move from the traditional definition of “employees” to a team of co-creators who are partners in purpose.

Leading companies are finding the enlightened sweet spot where what’s good for the post-digital business is deliberately designed to be good for their workforce. In the process, they are deliberately addressing the new worker needs digital brings, as well as the traditional needs it changes.

Crafting a culture that fits the era, C-suites realize supporting workers’ needs is not just the right thing to do, it’s essential for real competitive advantage—as well as for attracting and retaining high-value workers. Companies optimize their chances of successful outcomes when they consider the interplay between technology and culture as they create a strategy for growth and innovation.Leading companies are finding the enlightened sweet spot where what’s good for the post-digital business is deliberately designed to be good for their workforce.

Digital creates new worker needs and challenges. The good news: Digital also can solve some of them.

Digital wellness

In a world where mobile devices allow always-on connections, the boundaries between work time and personal time have eroded. Workers’ personal domains—family, social time, time alone—are being impinged upon by constant work.

As physical boundaries disappear, companies risk work culture becoming 24/7. Workers are having to put up psychological boundaries to protect their well-being, to keep company demands from becoming all-consuming. Those boundaries are not consistently being respected. Studies abound showing people regularly check work e-mails at the dinner table, as well as in bed.

Worker benefits

The pervasive adoption of digital technologies and broadband internet allows for more workers, in more types of roles, to switch employers with the same ease that they switch service providers as consumers. More and more workers are in alternative work arrangements, versus traditional employee relationships. Cultures need to accommodate for this, moving from a design that favors only traditional full-time employees.

Recognizing the fluid nature of work and careers in the post-digital economy, companies and governments are considering a benefits safety net. Several U.S. states—California, New Jersey, New York and Washington among them—have also introduced portable benefits legislation. In the European Parliament, legislation introduces more predictable hours and compensation for cancelled work, applying to vulnerable workers on non-traditional contracts and in non-standard jobs.

Safety that spans worlds

Traditionally, workers have required a safe physical environment. But, in the post-digital world, they also need a safe cyber environment. As the physical and digital worlds merge, employees will exist more often in an extended reality (XR) where the two worlds converge at work.

Industries are heading into XR at varying speeds, but all show a quickening pace. It’s important that companies begin to put well-being and safety at the center of their design for any technology service or product, as well as at the heart of their operations and culture.

Companies around the world are focusing on digital transformation to the sum of US$1.2 trillion globally, but many are overlooking the culture change necessary for success.

Traditional worker needs with a digital twist

Digital doesn’t just create new worker needs. It also spurs an urgency around some traditional worker needs, like transparency, relevance and inclusivity.

Transparency and trust

With digital analytics, companies can not only better gauge how on board their people are, they can also see more clearly how work is being done. From which teams to assemble for top-notch innovation to how to better support workers for better outcomes, leaders are afforded a window into what makes their company tick.

In the most advanced companies, culture supports workers helping to shape a strategy, rather than just being participants in making it a reality. This radical level of transparency ensures they are not passive recipients of something handed down from “on high” and instead, feel ownership of where the company is headed and their part in helping it get there.


From workers to executives, companies will need to create a culture that embraces “new skilling,” helping workers learn the competencies that will take them into a post-digital future.

Beyond any one competency, companies will need to partner with governments, educational institutions and workers themselves to better enable lifelong learning—a must in a new world where business changes quickly. Middle-skill workers—those who have more than a high school diploma but less than a university degree—are at a particularly high risk for displacement. Globally, we’re seeing a hollowing out of middle-skill jobs already.


From accessibility to working styles, cultural preferences to avoidance of stereotypical norms, workers who feel respected are able to commit more fully to delivering value. As companies serve an increasingly diverse consumer base, their employees need to reflect that consumer base. Studies show that companies with policies that encourage the retention and promotion of diverse workers across race, sexual orientation, and gender, are more innovative and release more products.

Digital technologies allow formerly disenfranchised groups of workers to do things and contribute in a way not previously possible. More than one billion people need assistive products to be independent and productive, but only one in 10 have access. Adults with disabilities have twice the unemployment rate of those without, but technology—and enlightened leaders—can change this situation.


Only one out of 10 disabled people have access to assistive products.

Transforming your organizational culture for the times

Post-digital culture change is so fundamental that it’s not just doing. It’s becoming. Leaders will need to throw away the old scorecards and performance metrics, redefining the way they lead and what they hold their teams accountable for daily.

As you think about how to align culture to the times, a few first steps will point you in the right direction:

Throw out your understanding of workplace experiences. Businesses looking ahead to the post-digital age see technologies ranging from AI to XR that will fundamentally change the way work is performed. In response to these changes, leading businesses are rethinking everything that goes into the creation of a digitally equipped workforce and what it will take to help that workforce thrive.

Embrace changing perspectives on the nature of work. Technology will only become more integrated in the workplace, giving rise to new needs that could impact a workforce’s ability to succeed. Businesses that embrace changing workforce needs today can use this transformation effort to prepare themselves for change tomorrow.

Empower passionate leaders who want to address new worker needs. Cultural transformations are impactful if they emerge from within an existing workforce. Individuals who can balance an understanding of emerging workforce needs with ongoing business challenges are well-positioned to chart successful transformation strategies. Bring these voices to the table when you evaluate emerging stakeholder and workforce needs.

As digital technologies become more prevalent in the workplace, keep your desired end state in mind. What is your company becoming? How are digital technologies shaping that? And is the impact on your workforce for better or for worse? In the more enlightened era of work we are all moving into, leaders are designing for the better.


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Digitizing client business projection


MWC is focused on simplifying its business processes by digitizing how the company operates. As part of the ongoing investment in digital performance business management, MWC wanted to transform the forecasting process for the teams managing MWC’s client accounts. For these teams, MWC has developed a suite of intelligent information platforms that it continues to evolve, enhance and expand.“Our objective was to shift from existing manual and offline client team forecasting to a secure, automated and real-time projection capability, with new insights and easy to leverage for both the client account teams and Accenture’s management,” states Greg Giesler, Managing Director – Finance.The solution needed to transform the client forecasting process across five business lines spanning 40 industries for Accenture operations across 52 countries. It also needed to leverage the large volume of MWC’s financial data to ultimately better inform and support business decisions, growth and development at an account and corporate level.

Strategy and solution

The initiative to develop a solution was an exemplary collaboration among teams from MWC’s Finance, Client Account, Sales and internal IT organization. Grounded in user feedback and the teams’ deep experience in this area, the project team came together to reimagine the way in which client teams prepare and manage their client team forecasts drawing on Accenture’s skills in innovation, integration, analytics and automation.The resulting Client Business Projection solution transforms the business process with an experience-driven, serverless, cloud-hosted application that leverages MWC’s enterprise platform infrastructure to provide more immediate and relevant insight. The solution is integrated with MWC’s enterprise applications and brings together client account actuals, backlog, pipeline and speculative data sourced directly from the systems of record.Data is digitally stored, processes and tools are standardized, and routine offline activities automated. The solution automates the financial process in two ways. The first is by integrating data from disparate sources, eliminating the effort of each team compiling its own data. Now, formulas are automated, and teams get insights in real-time. The second is by eliminating the manual preparation of data and a quarterly data upload process into a tool to populate the quarterly Accenture Client Corporate forecast.Client Business Projection can be accessed directly or via the Manage myBusiness platform, and provides multiple, easy-to-navigate dashboards with drill-down capability to enable a new projection process. The solution creates current and forward-looking views of account financial performance to enable insights to optimize financial performance. Transparency of the underlying data leads to improved quality and thus more effective information not just in Client Business Projection, but in other management tools as well. Business life cycle and process management is holistic. The solution is a significant step change in managing and surfacing business performance analysis.


Client Business Projection is transforming the way Accenture does business. Agile, digital and more accurate forecasting is driving value for the business. Data captured is turned into fast insights for fast decisions—all enhancing the ability to generate profitable growth for Accenture.The client forecast process today is real-time, transparent and consumable. Accenture client account teams and leadership are benefiting from instant, account-level, current and future performance analytics to perform business projections. Team members and leadership can edit their projections, interact online and conduct continuous dialogue to identify the necessary actions to achieve plan/target and drive those actions across a client portfolio.Client Business Projection is used by teams in all countries that Accenture does business in. In the first year of launch, more than 50,000 log-ins per month occurred and approximately 10,000 unique users were recorded. Account teams are retiring their complex spreadsheets, greatly reducing manual efforts and saving time on monthly batch data preparation. Teams are now able to do things in minutes, not hours and they no longer have to wait until the end of the month because the data is always available.The deployment of Client Business Projection moves the account forecasting process from an involved, manual quarterly exercise to always-on, digital and analytics. “Client Business Projection is a step change in the way client account team users prepare, review and use business performance analysis,” notes Domingo Mirón, Group Chief Officer – Financial Services. “It is not a tool, it is the tool that helps client teams manage their business.”

Benefit highlights:

Data and insights

Data captured generates business indicators, trends and insights quickly—driving value to the business through fast data for faster decisions.


Leveraging the value of digital platforms by connecting assets, enabling automation and a foundation for the future.


Contract and sales data is available at any time for analysis, insights and business decision making.


Data is transparent to the client account and portfolio teams, which enables team communications and forward-thinking strategic and tactical actions.


As projection inputs are immediately visible there is an increased focus on data accuracy leading to an overall improvement in projection reliability.


Monthly financial process automation and data population greatly eliminate manual offline efforts, enabling teams to focus on analysis and action.

*We are here to help you navigate so schedule a call to discuss your specific business goals