Total Telecom had the pleasure of interviewing CSG’s SVP of EMEA, James Kirby, about the changes the telecoms industry has seen during the Covid pandemic and why customer service is now more important than ever

As we draw to the end of 2020, nobody can deny that this year the Covid-19 pandemic has been a key factor in driving rapid digitalisation. But while many operators have reacted quickly to the heightened demand, with an increased online presence comes a new emphasis on customer service – something that some operators are being slow to improve.
Speaking to Total Telecom in a video interview, CSG’s SVP of EMEA James Kirby explained how customers have been growing increasingly accustomed to the excellent customer experience delivered by major over-the-top service providers. 
“At CSG we’re all about customer experience. We live in this new world where consumers are used to the really great online experiences of the likes of Amazon, Netflix, and Uber, where everything is online, its digital, and its very simple and easy,” Kirby said. “When it comes to interacting with their telecoms provider […] that experience is not always as good as it is in other online channels. It’s really important that communications service providers up their game.”

Customer experience has been improving gradually across the telecoms industry for many years now, but a new digital norm means that these incremental improvements will soon no longer be enough. It is also a matter of missed opportunities for telcos. Kirby described his own experience with his mobile provider, saying that they were great at informing him of when there was a service outage, but were not maximising this communication opportunity.
“What would be even more relevant to me would be to tell me that the reason for the outage was because they had just upgraded to 5G. They’re missing an opportunity there – yes, there is some customer engagement and improved customer experience, but there are some opportunities being missed too,” he explained.
When it comes to 5G itself, the new technology is opening up a wealth of new opportunities for telcos, primarily through enabling new types of customer experience, from everything from virtual reality to the industrial IoT. Selling data alone will not be enough to drive 5G monetisation, and so telcos will need help from partners in parallel industries to help deliver these profitable new services, be it to consumers or to enterprises.
“To be able to monetise the new capabilities there are lots of different parties involved. The operators that are going to be successful are going to be those that bring together an ecosystem of partners that all provide 5G services to consumers,” explained Kirby. “At CSG we are working with our partners to upgrade and enhance some of the back-end systems that are needed to support that ecosystem. If you don’t have the partner management capabilities, you aren’t going to be able to have an ecosystem.”
Looking forward to 2021, 5G is going to be play a key role in helping many economies around the world to recover from the pandemic, whether that be directly through improved connectivity or the enhanced capabilities of various industries, like manufacturing utilising automation or healthcare maximising telemedicine. But Kirby points out that good customer service underpins all of these developments and will be key to maximising the economic opportunity for telcos.
“When you have good customer experience, you can generally sell more to a consumer, including new services,” he explained. “2020 has been a year of ‘try it and see’ and ‘it’s because of Covid, please bear with us’. People will accept that reasoning in short-term, but in 2021 consumers won’t accept that any more. We are in this new digital norm and uplifting that customer experience is going be a big theme for 2021.”
You can watch the full interview with CSG’s James Kirby via the link above.
Also in the news: