Survey: Telecoms embrace digital CX

Carriers are investing heavily to deliver modern customer experiences

Major telecom companies today face increasing pressure to improve and personalize their relationship with customers. That’s one reason why the sector is fast becoming a leader in digitizing the customer experience, according to a new global survey by ESI ThoughtLab and ServiceNow.

Nearly 9 in 10 telecoms have already automated their customer service and management operations, according to the survey, which included 600 executives across five major sectors—financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, public sector, and telecom. That’s well above the 61% average level of customer-support automation in other industries.

Telecom companies also rise above other sectors when it comes to much they are prioritizing the core technologies that make digital CX possible. Nearly half (46%) of telecoms say investing in a digital enterprise platform that integrates workflows, apps, data, and people is vital to their business, compared to roughly a fifth (21%) of respondents from other sectors.

As telecoms expand their use of digital platforms, a range of benefits will emerge, such as streamlined workflows for employees. Yet most telecoms still face challenges when it comes to improving customer experience. For example, carriers at the beginning stages of digitizing CX (19% of telecoms surveyed) have significant differences in priorities and investment compared with those that are CX leaders (33%).

How telecoms invest in CX

Telecoms landed at or near the top of the survey in three areas of CX investment:

  • Ability to accept digital payments
  • Development of mobile apps and devices
  • Investment in cloud-based platforms

Roughly a third of telecoms ranked their investment in each of these areas as either high or very high. However, we found significant differences between CX beginners and leaders.

What level of investment are you making in the following digital technologies to improve the customer experience?


The good news for telecom companies just starting out with digital CX is that, according to the survey, they are investing more overall in this critical new discipline than their counterparts in other industries.

Where they’re making progress

In the survey, telecom carriers reported considerable overall progress in digitizing customer experience. In fact, they led all five surveyed industries in four areas:

In what areas have you made considerable progress in digitizing the customer experience?


Personalization follows automation

Telecom led all five surveyed industries in efforts to create intuitive, self-service customer experiences. Nearly half (48%) of all telecoms said this was a key part of their new approach to serving customers. But for many telecoms, the efforts are clearly a work in progress. Companies at the beginning and intermediate stages of maturity are more focused on automating customer experiences than their more advanced industry peers.

How is your organization changing its approaches to serving customers to meet their expectations in today’s digital marketplace?


The survey data suggests that as telecoms mature, they should first automate processes to increase efficiency and reduce costs before focusing on providing a more intimate, customized experience for customers.

The ROI of digital platforms

Telecoms’ investments in digital CX appear to be paying substantial dividends. The industry is ahead of others in self-reported improvements to customer retention and loyalty, expanding its customer base and understanding customers’ needs. However, there’s still ample room for improvement. Telecoms lag behind other industries when it comes to freeing up their customer reps to do more strategic work or increasing sales per customer.

Which benefits are you seeing from digitizing and automating the customer experience?


Challenges ahead

More than half of survey respondents in every industry said their biggest challenge is moving beyond inflexible legacy systems and outdated technology. Here, telecoms are doing slightly better than average: 53% said it’s their biggest challenge, versus 55% of respondents in other industries.