August 20, 2020 7:53:59 am
The authors are Deepti Sagar, Partner; Aditya Sudhindranath, Director and Manali Das, Associate Director, Deloitte India
Last few months have brought fundamental shifts in the age old habits of Indian consumer – the way they buy, consume or engage with brands. These shifts might be more enduring than expected as consumers prefer to remain cautious in the backdrop of uncertainty and seesaw COVID trends.
We surveyed telco customers across the country to better understand their preferences and expectations. Our survey* had a key focus on assessing the differentiated needs of business consumers and retail consumers in the post COVID scenario. A vast majority, 77% business consumers and 66% retail consumers; indicated that they would prefer to continue to work from home even post lockdown.
This provides telecom industry an opportunity to capitalize on the surge in digitization in society and among businesses through service portfolio extension, network expansion and accelerated modernization of the entire digital infrastructure and customer-facing processes.
Home broadband surge and willingness to pay premium for quality:
47% of business consumers and 41% of retail consumers responded that they will spend more on broadband services in coming 6 months
~75% of retail consumers expect unlimited broadband plans and higher data allowances
83% business consumers and 77% retail consumers are willing to pay more for better speed or quality of services
In the wake of the crisis, broadband connectivity and mobile apps have become the main tools for people to stay connected. Need for high bandwidth connectivity for entertainment, remote working, and collaboration tools has spurred the latent demand for home broadband connectivity. The market also corroborates the same, as globally there has been a surge in data traffic during this period and the gravity of data traffic has shifted primarily to fixed residential network.
Most of the telecom providers across the globe have risen to the occasion and revamped their value propositions in the form of work@home packages, unlimited data bundles, reduced tariffs, free medical hotlines and free access to education channels. To tap the inelastic demand, telcos are also exploring premium paid for services; a model which is very common in retail, hospitality, financial services sectors.
Unique solutions for business consumers: Many businesses were not prepared for the surge in remote access and connectivity .The crisis accelerated spending on network and connectivity solutions by small and medium businesses (SME). According to the survey, solutions which the business consumers expect telcos to provide are:
Data privacy and security
Integrated communication solutions and
Cloud and hosting solutions
Telcos can play a crucial role in supporting SME journey into cloud based services, integrated connectivity while managing demand for remote working solutions such as VPNs, network-security bundles. Several telcos have already re-positioned their offerings, by providing virtualisation solutions on a pay-as-you-go model, remote IT support services to help keep business critical resources up and running for SMEs, etc.
Accelerated digital engagement:
82% of the respondents prefer remote support and troubleshooting
77% of respondents prefer self-installation / repair mechanisms
~70% respondents are influenced by digital promotions during online purchase
As a consequence of cautious mindset and pro-longed social isolation, consumer priorities seem to have become centered on low touch engagement leading to spike in use of digital channels. Similar trend is visible globally, wherein telcos are recording a marked increase in self-care app usage during the crisis. The concept of self-installation packs to help eliminate the need for technician visits, is also gaining pace amongst telcos in developed countries.
Growing need for empathetic engagement: Consumers are becoming more socially conscious. COVID has driven brand expectations beyond just products and pricing. Consumers relate more with a brand that serves a wider purpose and demonstrates empathy. According to the survey, 80% of the respondents prefer to engage with a brand that connected with its customers during the crisis and showcased empathy. Telcos across the world are responding to this shift, by significantly increasing the call handling capacity of medical hotlines, providing free access to various online platforms, prioritizing frontline workers while providing essential services, etc.
Evolving consumer sentiments and a volatile business landscape pose newer challenges for telcos. However, the outlook still remains positive given the diverse forces of demand and revenue opportunities that lie ahead. The right focus, reimagined propositions and staying close to customer needs are expected to help telcos stay ahead of the curve in the coming months and make a long lasting impact.
* Deloitte 2020 Telco Customer sentiment survey (n = 513; age-group = 18 years and above; Profession: small & medium business owners, salaried professionals, home makers, students; Gender: Female – 45% , Male – 55%)
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