The CX of B2B
In recent years, many telecoms providers have focused their business on the B2C market. However, it is anticipated that there will be a growing number of these providers making a concerted effort to maximise opportunities in the B2B market.
This is substantiated by the TM Forum report, Telco revenue growth – taking it to the next level, which found that of the 208 responding companies only 5% feel the best opportunities for [revenue and profit] growth within their organisation are in the B2C industry, in contrast to 30% of respondents who feel they are in the B2B/enterprise industry, and a substantial 62% feel that they are in a combination of B2B and B2C markets. With the remaining 3% feeling that there are no opportunities.
In light of this, our CEO and Founder, Nick Jennings, provides an insight into the requirements and the expectations of the customer experience (CX) in the B2B telecoms market.
The established view of B2B in the communication service provider (CSP) world is of a CSP selling its services – such as mobile, broadband, or fixed line – to another business. The attraction of this approach for many CSPs is the step increase in subscription numbers that come with the bulk selling of these services.
In the last few years however, this view is being challenged and CSPs are beginning to explore how to partner with other businesses to reach wider audiences. This is evidenced by the growing diversity amongst Virtual Network Operators (VNOs) which are not only offering highly targeted packages for the traditional set of services, but are combining these with content, loyalty schemes or even grocery goods, to reach a larger, and often younger, audience.
A prime example of this is the success story of PilloFon which was launched in 2020 by Mexican YouTuber and blogger Luisito Comunica. Luisito has 37 million followers and he successfully tapped into the market to become the fourth fastest growing MVNO in Mexico. Similarly, Separate Reality has recently helped its Mexican partner VADSA launch an MVNO for a content provider who has a similar social media reach and demographic with the aim of achieving the same conversion rates.
To support these new trends in B2B, tech companies and CSPs have been focusing on developing and implementing integration platforms which allow for the traditional services of mobile, broadband, fixed line and media to be expanded and integrated with the new partner-focused services – and yet still managed as one and accessible through a single API. Indeed, this need was the primary driver for the SR-SSB when we founded Separate Reality back in 2002.
Whilst considerable progress has been made over the past few years and integration platforms that not only deliver the required flexibility but also offer a low cost of change are becoming more common, the customer experiences and user journeys that sit upon these platforms are still a topic of debate within industry.
The debate is, in part, fuelled by the OSS/BSS system vendors each of whom have a view on the user-experience of B2B. If you talk to a billing vendor their UX is often centred around bulk purchasing or bill segmentation; if you talk to an OCS vendor their solution is focused on auto recharge or bulk provisioning; and if you talk to a digital content provider their solution is often focused on streaming quality or content navigation.
When a CSP or VNO brings everything together through an integration platform, regardless of the focus of the solution or the systems it integrates, they also need to merge all the differing UX capabilities, as well as their own USP, into a coherent customer experience that is not only inclusive but also reflective of the company’s brand. Not only must the final result be engaging and brand sensitive, but it must be cost competitive to deliver, quick to market and, crucially, easy to evolve.
Customer Experiences in B2B
To help comprehend the UX challenges, let’s look at a couple of recent scenarios that Separate Reality has come across…
Imagine a VNO that specialises in delivering communication services for hotel chains. In this scenario each hotel room needs TV content, pay-per-view, a broadband connection, a fixed line number, and the hotel staff need mobile phones so that they can be easily contacted. In this instance, each hotel within the chain needs to be able to generate a bill based on the services consumed by each room. They also need to be able to bulk purchase minutes and data for staff to use whilst at their hotel or moving between hotels. It is easy to imagine a set of web-portals and apps that could deliver both a management view as well as a consumer view. But how much would that cost to design and how long would it take to deliver?
Next, imagine a baseball team that wants to offer its supporters a SIM card and mobile package so they can watch and rewind game footage. To provide the optimum customer experience and return on investment, not only will the club’s app need to provide the ability to view game schedules and league positions, but it will also need to include shopping capabilities so that users can purchase merchandise as well as top-up data. How complex is the final solution and what sort of costs would be involved?
Finally, envision a digital content provider that has a social media following in the millions. The provider wants to invite its followers to join a membership club for a monthly fee. The membership includes an app with access to extended content, as well as a SIM card and mobile package. An app such as this will not only have to stream and organise content, but it will also need to enable top-up or pay-bill functionality. Again, the questions of set-up costs, time-to-market and cost of change are critical.
Just as the integration platforms can deliver plug-and-play integration with OSS/BSS components to deliver a unified view of the services available, is there a best-of-breed B2B CX that can meet all these requirements? We would say that there is not, as the businesses themselves are fundamentally different. If we accept that each business needs a completely bespoke UX, is there a way in which we can deliver quickly, with low cost of change and a strong ROI?
The SR-SSB, combined with our App Framework, has in fact been used by telecoms providers worldwide to fulfil their B2B requirements. For the B2B customer, the SR-SSB and App Framework can provide not only an overview designed for the consumer, but a holistic view for the business of their customer’s account, centralising data and usage even if the customer has multiple end users – the hotel chain for example.
What’s more, the user-friendly application gives consumers more control over interactions with a brand across multiple touchpoints. This can lead to improved customer service levels and decreased call centre demands – no matter which sector the business operates in.
An advanced integration platform, the SR-SSB is a pre-built and enhanced Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) that connects diverse OSS/BSS systems using advanced orchestration mechanisms into a single middleware platform to deliver a unified customer experience across multiple touchpoints. It can plug into the many systems a customer has, which it then presents as one through a single unified API onto which other systems can connect.
For example, the SR-SSB can facilitate user and subscription management to consumer top-ups, business bulk ordering and point-of-sale signup.
The SR-SSB has been augmented with business-focused capabilities, all of which have been created to add real value to our customers. This includes user experience acceleration technologies as well as an extensive and powerful product catalogue designed for online purchasing.
Designed to meet the varying needs of VNOs and their customers, the SR-SSB can also offer:
- An e-commerce platform
- Customer preference management
- Templated outbound communications
- Informed business intelligence
Harnessing the best practices for B2B solutions, the SR-SSB offers low cost of change, the ability to be tailored to a business’s brand, and the agility to quickly scale up or down – or even add and swap backend systems. Therefore, allowing VNOs and CSPs to easily modify and rebrand the platform for varying partners and their unique USPs, customer journeys and offerings.
Our App Framework allows us to create app-based delivery mechanisms, for iOS and Android, quickly and cost-effectively. The apps that are developed with this framework plug seamlessly onto the SR-SSB and its exposed API to create an integrated experience for users.
Customisable to the needs of our customer and their end user, our App Framework includes helper utilities which have been built up over years of refinement and iteration. The framework comes with multi-language and theme support and the capabilities to switch language or theme in real-time.
Take a look at our advanced integration platform, the SR-SSB, to find out more about its extensive capabilities and how it can be tailored to the CX of B2B.
Contact our team to find out how we can help your business.