As we shared in the 2020 KPMG Telecoms Industry CEO Outlook, the COVID-19 pandemic created a surge in demand for telecommunications services as people moved to a home environment for work, school and socializing. This demand helped drive a digital-first transformation, focusing on the customer experience and the acceleration of digital business models and revenue streams.
The telecommunications industry continues to be the backbone keeping us connected. We checked in with 50 global CEOs from large telecommunications companies in the 2021 KPMG U.S. CEO Outlook Pulse Survey. They reported that they continue to invest in improving the customer experience, with 98 percent of CEOs sharing how they have accelerated the creation of a seamless, digital customer experience.
This digital transformation has accelerated beyond the customer experience:
The importance of the digital customer experience is further supported in that, compared to a year ago, telecommunications CEOs plan to invest more in data security measures (64 percent), AI (56 percent) and customer-centric technologies such as chatbots (54 percent) and cloud computing (52 percent). Sixty percent of CEOs reported they are prioritizing these technology investments because of the pandemic and 42 percent suggested their customers are more open to these measures because of the pandemic.
As they move to a digital customer experience, telecommunications companies must ensure they have the right technologies in place to meet their customers where they are. That means they should provide a multichannel service approach – in-person at a retail location and virtually through a customer’s phone or computer. Leveraging technologies like chatbots, cloud and AI will become even more important as the multichannel approach becomes more fluid.
When asked about the long-term impact of the pandemic on their companies, 60 percent of telecommunications CEOs reported customer engagement and queries will be done via virtual platforms. Nearly half of telecommunications CEOs (46 percent) said a majority of employees will work remotely 2-3 days per week, while 30 percent of CEOs across all sectors of the survey reported a majority of employees will work remotely 2-3 days per week. Each of these findings further supports the importance of improving the digital customer and employee experience.
Telecommunications CEOs are also confident in the growth prospect of the sector (94 percent) and their companies (88 percent) over the next three years. This confidence is likely driven by a couple factors: potential revenue streams from new technologies like 5G and mobile edge computing, and the growing need for telecommunications services as the pandemic changes how we live our lives.
It will be interesting to see what happens to many of the telecommunications companies as they continue to expand their digital footprint, but it’s clear we’ll see more happening in a virtual world!