It hardly needs pointing out that, as the Covid-19 outbreak takes its toll, Communications Service Providers (CSPs) can play a vital role over the coming months. Populations will rely heavily on their CSPs to ensure continuity of service allowing us to work, educate our children, stay in touch with loved ones, and entertaining us through digital services.
We are already seeing some CSPs respond to the collective threat the coronavirus poses. Free international calls to countries that have been hardest hit, extra complimentary data to certain restrictive plans and ensuring key healthcare service lines are accessible without charge are all admirable offers. But there is much else that can be done and, in this article, I want to share some of our thinking regarding how CSPs could use their infrastructure tools to set up further initiatives to help governments, healthcare services and retailers, as well as their customers through this crisis. Though the ability to take the steps below may be dependent on the technology a CSP has deployed, consider the following:
Interactive digital information services for government, healthcare and retail
Governments, Public Health Services, and other organizations must provide relevant information to populations searching for sources they can trust. While traditional social media can be used for this, a number of CSPs are offering services on behalf of the government delivered through the mobile device. This is critical in the early phases of the epidemic when first cases are identified, but remains very important in the peak and later phases as cases start spiking and there is a need to manage traffic, divert people to specific locations for testing, and educate people on new developments, regulations and advice. CSPs could:
Help governments capture survey data or manage digital voting
Help healthcare systems to provide symptom check flows and provide the necessary advice
Help retailers to provide information as to opening hours, or stocks of scarce resources
…and many other possibilities
Adjusting lifecycle campaign messaging and targets
Many CSPs manage a large portfolio of automated, below-the-line, personalized lifecycle campaigns. Based on customer profiles and real-time event triggers, these traditionally result in customers being sent offers and/or notifications as reminders of expiring plans, new services or depleting balances. But now, it may be wise to go over campaign portfolios and make adjustments. Customers may not be in the position to make that recharge in the timeframe that an offer is valid as a result of social distancing and closed stores. It may be wise to remind customers of the digital channels available to them for data replenishment. It might be worth delivering some segmented information campaigns based on customer location, and it may be a good time to relax some of the airtime or data expirations that you have imposed.
Rationing of scarce resources through digital vouchering
Once the virus starts spreading, it will naturally become more challenging for retailers and/or governments to allocate resources in a controlled fashion. We have seen unfortunate cases of panic-buying of hand-sanitizer, cleaning products, tinned and long-lasting foods, and even toilet paper in many countries. Using a unique voucher & redemption mechanic is one way to ensure the rationing of many scarce goods. Unique digital vouchers, allocated to an individual, can be used to ensure redemption happens fairly and even in specified locations. (e.g. redeem voucher A1235T at location XYZ only).
Enabling charitable donations
Whether customers want to use their loyalty points or if they want to simply donate to charitable causes, “customer relationship” can be used to translate loyalty points, airtime or credit amounts on the monthly bill into value that can be donated to those charities that are helping vulnerable people fight the virus outbreak.
Adjusting loyalty program tier-status expirations & rewards portfolios
As the closure and cancellation of cinemas (2-4-1 tickets), concerts (presale of tickets to high-status customers) and sporting events (passes to watch events on pay-per-view) that often form the basis of CSP reward programs becomes commonplace, loyal customers are often now not able to enjoy the benefits offered to them. This unprecedented situation means that CSPs must take a look at their programs and realign the rules around the tier-status levels and the rewards portfolio. We have already seen that many airline programs have reached out to their higher status customers who are no longer able to travel and have offered to reward their loyalty by extending their status period for a 3-6-month period whilst the outbreak runs its course. We suggest that, for any paid subscription or time-limited tier-based programs managed by CSPs, a similar rule adjustment is considered. Whilst it may be true that the coronavirus will not impact the CSPs' services in the same manner as airlines, gym subscriptions and other industries, and customers are still able to use the services that contribute to their tier-status, the fact that customers are not able to enjoy many of the benefits that may have been offered is a goood reason to consider pausing the expiration of tiers.
In short, there are many proactive and creative steps well-placed CSPs can leverage to help their customer populations at the present time. Feel free to get in touch if you’d like to discuss any of the ideas in this article, and many others too.
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