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Your MVNO success hinges on activation; 5 CX initiatives to build into your strategy today

Mobile phone

If you’re a telecommunications leader, no one needs to tell you that you’re going through a big transition—especially if you’re in the cable business.  Traditional cable television is being supplanted by streaming services, and partially as a result, cable growth is almost entirely flat, with new installations in new neighborhood construction offering the only significant opportunities for growth. The largest growth opportunities in telecommunications lie in offering new services, and the biggest opportunity is becoming a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO).

The MVNO opportunity is so large, in fact, that not only are incumbent cable companies becoming MVNOs, but new companies are forming to take advantage of it. These new companies can serve markets that are significant, but still too niche for the large mobile operators to fully address.

But to take advantage of the MVNO opportunity, incumbent and upstart companies must design an onboarding and activation process that provides a smooth and painless experience for the consumer—a task that has proved tricky for many MVNOs. 

The mobile activation challenge

Activation is a complex process—and if the process is not well designed and implemented, companies risk creating friction points for customers, delaying activation and potentially driving them to other providers. 

For instance, because there are often multiple points of contact during the process, bad design can require redundant questioning, and that can annoy customers. But that’s far from the only possible choke point.

In a self-serve situation, it must be crystal clear to the customer which steps to take depending on their situation, which could include:

  • Setting up a new device
  • Bringing an old device and keeping the number
  • Bringing an old device and getting a new number
  • Activating an existing phone that requires changing a physical SIM card
  • Activating an existing phone that is eSIM only

Frustration with the activation process causes customers to drop off. Reducing upfront churn and supporting customers through activation adds demand to costly customer support channels.  Expenses can quickly mount, which is an especially big problem for MVNOs, whose margins and customer satisfaction correlate directly with providing a smooth customer journey. 

Creating a smooth self-service activation process for the customer

It’s well worth investing in design to create an excellent activation process. These efforts will pay for themselves many times over with reduced churn. And since self-activation is the least expensive path, special attention should be paid to ensure there are clear, easy-to-follow activation steps along comprehensive troubleshooting paths. 

If you’re looking to build and implement a well-designed process that sets you apart, here are the key CX foundations to prioritize immediately.

Establish a customer testing program with continuous feedback loops

No matter how clear the steps may seem, gather feedback from new customers and test the activation process with potential customers who have many different situations. The MVNO is not a good judge of what’s clear and what’s confusing because you’re too close to the service. Seemingly basic knowledge or simple steps, like SIM vs. eSIM activation, introduces technical jargon unknown to most customers.

Don’t stop with a single test. Once you’ve incorporated the lessons from one test, iterate and test again with a new set of potential customers to improve until you get an acceptable rate of success.

And once customers are using the activation process, continuously monitor for activation trouble. Spikes in call volume to customer service may indicate that something in the activation process is not working. Digging into call center analytics is a good place to identify trouble areas.

Build a content strategy for knowledge articles that will improve the activation experience

For customers who run into trouble, ensure you have a strong knowledge base of articles that enable customers to self-troubleshoot. It must be comprehensive, with information that’s easy to find. Videos are extremely helpful and popular among customers, but don’t depend too heavily on them unless you are able to update videos frequently. Mobile technology is constantly changing, resulting in troubleshooting content becoming outdated very quickly.

Ready to improve your mobile activation process?

Our telecom experts can help—let’s chat.

Content strategy is foundational to building a plan around what information customers need for troubleshooting, what to create, how to produce it effectively, how to provide it to customers through your tools in a way that meets their needs, and how to keep the process updated and relevant over time—among many other considerations. Building a plan sooner rather than later sets you up to reduce the time your team spends on customer support later, saving you money and time.

Fuel your employee-facing digital systems with quality data management

For those customers who need to speak to a live agent, these agents must have fast access to the information they need,  when they need it. Enable NBA (next best actions) to standardize troubleshooting recommendations from agents. Smarter NBA enables tier 1 agents to guide customers through different troubleshooting steps based on carrier and device information. Create and leverage robust knowledge bases that provide opportunities for agents to share content with customers. This is essential in creating deflection opportunities and re-routing high-touch customers to self-service channels. 

Also, streamline communication to incoming customers. Leverage intelligent IVR (interactive voice response) platforms to gather routine details about a customer’s intention.  Are you looking to buy a device? Is your current device unlocked? Is this a family or individual plan? Based on the information provided, customers can be triaged to specific agents or handle time of customers can be better anticipated (e.g. a customer signing up for a family plan may take longer than an individual).

Establish playbooks and systems for the in-person experience at retail locations

An audit of the current store flow should be completed to determine the impact of servicing a new service line in-store, which must support the breadth of the buyer journey. Customers must be able to learn about the new service, evaluate device and service options, and purchase and activate the service before leaving the store.

Create queues dedicated to customers signing up for mobile. This will reduce bottlenecks for other customers that are there for support with other services. Triage mobile customers to specific agents that are most knowledgeable with mobile activation steps and edge cases. 

Ensure you have access to the necessary design expertise

In the end, it’s highly likely that nascent MVNOs will need professional help to design an activation process that incorporates the design standards described above. Service design—both for self-service and assisted activation—is a specific skill set that MVNOs rarely possess. Professional design firms have experience creating similar systems for other MVNOs, so they can accelerate the process and ensure a high-quality experience for customers. 

Creating a high-quality activation process is key to success

This opportunity is large. Underserved niches, geographies with poor coverage, and customers looking for more affordable service are all searching for a mobile provider who will meet their needs. The MVNO path enables upstarts and incumbent businesses to pursue this market—but to do so successfully, the activation process must be simple, fast, and painless. It’s well worth spending time, money, and resources up front to make sure that the customers you win don’t walk away after they’re unable to access the service.

Does your mobile activation process create unwanted roadblocks? Our team of experts can help improve and design a seamless activation experience. Connect with us. 

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