Edition #16: It's Time To Get Human: 6 Tips To Increase Digital Adoption

Away from my day job as head of sales and marketing for Maplewave, I’m a science fiction nerd (shout out to my favs, Arthur C Clarke, and my Canadian namesake, William Gibson). I use this futuristic passion in my day job to imagine and envision where the world – and the telco industry - is going.  

“Digital Transformation” has long been a buzz word and is a journey that most telcos are currently on. However, implementing the right digital tools is just the first part of the puzzle. The real dilemma is getting customers to actually use them.  

Most telcos I’ve been speaking with are concerned about “digital adoption”. They’re obsessing over penetration rates, app downloads, and conversion rates in digital channels, then comparing them to the cost of acquisition in their expensive real world physical channels.

Increasing digital adoption is more than possible, provided you understand the issue fully, and you know enough about the juxtaposition of humanity versus machines to understand what to do! Hence where my sci-fi obsession comes in handy, ha-ha!

The secret? To be more digital, you have to get more HUMAN - a dichotomy if ever I heard one. I’ll explain how to accomplish this feat with these top six tips.

1. Reduce Transaction Times

In order to embed new behaviours and teach your humans how to use digital tools, your first step is to save them some time. Telco transactions are way too long, a result of years of legacy systems that have not evolved. Why can you order a new Netflix package or an ‘on-demand’ sports event or movie in seconds, yet you can’t buy a new phone and plan in a similar amount of time?

The Answer: Obsess about your customer experience. Invest in a telco-specific commerce platform that integrates all your systems and eliminates duplicate entry. Do everything you can to ensure your transactions are FAST. You will need this time to execute on some methods I describe later to increase digital adoption.

2. Measure Digital Adoption

How many retail store associates have a KPI to help customers download the self-help app? Or take the time to show them how to use the web to change their plan or tariff or order a new device?  

Very, very few. I know this because the old-fashioned ROI of a brick-and-mortar store simply comes down to sales; you justify the rent and the cost of the humans working in the store by making as much money as you possibly can. However, if you want to drive digital adoption, you must teach some old dogs some new tricks.  

The Answer: Set up KPIs and performance league tables showing the number of app downloads, or sign-ups for your self-help portal. If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.

3. Incentivise New Behaviour

Once you have saved some time and set up your KPIs, you now need to think about some positive re-enforcement. In your retail channels, you can still pay commissions for sales, but how about tweaking your model to incentivise app downloads? Create a zero-rated dummy SKU in your POS and offer your sales associates $1 for every proven download after a sale. This makes it easy to link the action with the customer account number so you can prove it via the CRM (so long as your retail system is well integrated!).

The Answer: Incentivise the behaviours you want. Pay for digital adoption. Then your staff will spend the time to teach customers. Here’s another idea – what about incentivizing your customers as well? For example, you could offer a discount for every bill paid via the app rather than in person from inside the store. Why not?

4. Train, Train, Train

I don’t buy into the old saying that “those who can’t, teach”. Teaching is a skill, and I have a lot of respect for those who do this well (shout out to my son’s teacher and her patience in answering all his many questions!). But since when do we properly teach in telco? You are lucky if you EVER get a classroom course nowadays. Perhaps you might get a PowerPoint sent by marketing about a new offer. Does IT send training materials for new digital tools? Oh, they don’t? More fool you.

The Answer: Invest in your people. Talk to them. Train them - in person! Don’t just send them electronic documents and expect them to take in the information. Gamify their world. Send them quizzes – heck, even incentivise them for training achievement. Go on, you know it makes sense!

5. Obsess About Your Digital Customer Journeys

What works for you? How many baskets do you lose? What’s your dropout rate at stage X, Y, Z? Until you can be sure that your digital tools are super easy and intuitive, you will never get traction.  

I witnessed a superb speech at a recent conference by Begüm Saraçoğlu from Turk Telecom, who had made it her obsession to continually re-model the digital experiences her customers use - with impressive results!

The Answer: Seek out UX studies and usability forums with real customers to understand their frustrations with your apps and portals. If they are not easy and intuitive, then you will never get penetration.

6. Marketing

When was the last time you saw a telco advertise one of their new digital tools, how to access it, download it, and use it? And what it would then do for you? Thought not.  

Big telcos obsess over sales and ROI, yet they also care about driving digital adoption and cutting human costs out of their business. So, tell your customer base – market to them!

The Answer: Build a business case to advertise your digital tools and set the KPI as “adoption rate” or “base X penetration rate” against the cost of the campaign. Use your CRM to segment your customers to only target those who haven’t signed up for or used the app or portal. Here’s a good example from Vodafone, but as I mentioned, I don’t see this above the line very often: https://www.vodafone.co.uk/my-vodafone-account/vodafone-apps/my-vodafone-app/

Wrap Up

I hope this has been helpful. Take these 6 steps, and if you like old fashioned waterfall projects, do them 1 at a time, in order.  

If you’re struggling with digital adoption, I’d love to chat about it. I’d also love to hear if you’ve tried any of these ideas and if they’ve a made a difference in your world.

Drop me a line if you’d like to know more or would just like to throw some ideas around. I’m always available!

Offering insight and concrete solutions for telcos looking to take their business to the next level.

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