Digital-native businesses including Netflix, Amazon, Uber, Apple, and Airbnb have discovered the need for a seamless and convenient omnichannel customer experience. Today, customers also expect telecommunications providers to offer such an experience. Moreover, the average net promoter score (NPS), a major customer satisfaction metric, usually has been in the 20s for telco providers compared to the 50s or higher for digital-native services according to McKinsey.
How can you make your customers happier? Give them more freedom and more control over fulfilling their needs. A self-service telecom portal is an excellent tool for fulfilling this task, and we have seen such portals be transformative for our clients multiple times. Self-service in telecommunications could be a game-changer for your telco company, helping you to differentiate yourself on the market and increase average revenue per user (ARPU) and sales conversion rates. Let’s discover how.
Why you should consider building a self-service telecom portal
A digital self-care portal is rapidly becoming the first point of contact for telecommunications customers when they encounter technical issues. That’s not a surprise, as the telco sector is a leader in self-service. According to J.D. Power research, 69% of customers would try to resolve technical problems by themselves first and only afterward would turn to an in-home service visit.
However, only some customers are aware of self-service in telecommunications. Let’s find out what makes customer self-service for telecom a two-way street for operators and their customers.
We often say satisfaction is profitable. Providers that understand this and give customers easy access to the tools they need to troubleshoot common issues enjoy higher customer satisfaction, and—importantly—are spending less on customer service phone calls that begin at upwards of $7-$12 per call.
In the post-pandemic era, an omnichannel digital experience is a need, not a want. Moreover, an emphasis on self-care for telecom is crucial, since a well-managed customer experience makes people feel appreciated and heard. Meanwhile, 81% of consumers still want more self-service options according to NICE’s 2022 Digital-First Customer Experience Report.
Developing a self-care portal brings telco providers tangible benefits
Furthermore, a telecom portal is a quick win for communications service providers (CSPs). Here are the tangible benefits you can gain from telecommunications consulting services on self-care portal development:
- Design a customer experience based on your unique omnichannel strategy
- Adopt an architecture/technology that harmonizes with your IT landscape
Provide an excellent customer experience
- Enable accessible account and service management
- Create personalized promotions and offerings
- Make it easy to purchase and pay
- Create customer-centric use cases
Lower operating costs
- Make support more accessible for subscribers
- Cut support costs and call volumes
- Strengthen agent-assisted service
- Monitor regular and prevalent end-user issues
Increase ARPU (average revenue per user) and sales conversion rates
- Implement recommendation-based cross-selling/upselling
- Enable promotion and ARPU expansion activities
Understand customer behavior
- Capture customer activity as customers access the portal and leverage that knowledge for forecasting and business planning
The customer’s experience is everything. Learn what it takes to build a proper customer self-care portal.
From planning to support: Customer self-service for telecom companies
There are six stages to building a user-facing self-service web portal for telecommunications providers in the B2C and B2B sectors.
Frist: Planning and requirements gathering
This stage aims at understanding the needs of businesses and end-users. It identifies the features and functionalities required and determines the integration points with corporate enterprise resource planning (ERP) and billing systems. Functionality may dramatically differ between B2B and B2C applications.
Self-care portals for B2C applications are the most common, and the required functionality is largely obvious. B2B self-care portals have more complex logic, requiring differentiation of access roles, mass operation, and automated and manual approval flows. At this stage, the business also defines whether web or mobile apps (or both) are needed.
Second: Design and prototyping
This stage involves creating a visual design for the portal (UI/UX) and creating wireframes and mockups to get feedback from stakeholders. It also includes designing the integration architecture and data flows between the portal, corporate ERP, and billing systems.
Third: Development and testing
This stage includes building the portal using programming languages, frameworks, and tools to integrate it with the corporate environment. Comprehensive testing ensures that the portal and integrations work as expected.
Fourth: Deployment and launch
This stage involves preparing the portal for production, setting up hosting and infrastructure, and making the portal available to users. Careful monitoring and testing are performed to ensure functionality and integrations work correctly in the production environment.
Fifth: Migration of legacy customer data
Migration of legacy customer data enters the picture if the business requires customer data generated in legacy versions of the self-service portal to be available in the new portal. Depending on the implementation, a telecom portal may not have a separate database or specific data at all.
All data is fetched from the corresponding business support system (BSS) back end to avoid this step. Still, registration should happen again, even for existing users.
Sixth: Ongoing maintenance and support
This stage involves monitoring the portal for issues and bugs, providing user support, and making updates and improvements as necessary. Special attention is given to monitoring integrations with corporate systems to ensure that any changes or updates to these systems do not affect the portal’s functionality.
Learn how we built a self-care portal to provide excellent customer service for a leading communications software provider.
Key features of a telecom self-care app: From self-care portal to super app and B2B self-service portal
Telecom self-provisioning in the B2C sector gives customers, account holders, and subscribers more control within a full-featured interface. Once users provide their account number, password, and pin code, they can view and manage their rates, bills, and features and observe their voice, data, and text usage.
Telecommunication self-care portals are also transforming into super apps. For example, T-Mobile sells services from streaming video subscriptions to banking and travel options. A super app (or superapp) resembles a Swiss army knife, providing users with core features plus extra options.
Gartner expects that by 2027, more than 50% of the global population will be daily active users of multiple superapps. The superapp concept will also expand to include enterprise mobile and desktop experiences, such as workflow, collaboration and messaging platforms.
The Chinese WeChat provides various services, from banking to social media, and is one of the brightest examples of a super app. Creating a super app is a way for telcos to provide a rich customer experience, focusing on a B2B marketplace, big data monetization, and B2C ecosystem.
Since developing all features customers might desire is expensive, companies focus on several key features, which can include on-demand music/video, financial services, etc.
Moreover, it is even possible to integrate the net promoter score (NPS) questionnaire or any other voice of the customer features into a self-service application. This way, you can seamlessly integrate network quality control.
When discussing B2B self-service apps for telecom providers, things are more complicated. Apart from service and order management, frontend and backend customer services, a back-office user interface (UI), and backend CMS services, the portal can host extra integrations.
Your B2B self-service app could be enhanced by single sign-on (SSO), an e-shop, and external integrations provided by vendors’ and partners’ APIs. It also might include internal enterprise integrations such as billing, ERP, or workforce management systems.
Below is a high-level overview of the functional architecture of a self-service telecom portal for the B2B sector.
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The Intellias method: Self-service in telecommunications done right
To ensure a well-performing self-care telecom application for both the B2B and B2C sectors, we focus on four core areas:
- Product engineering — handling the overall self-service app development process: project and requirements management, quality assurance, and deployment
- Customization — adjusting existing software to meet your business processes and needs
- Integration — developing various plug-ins, integration flows, APIs, or bulk integrations
- Managed service — ensuring environments run smoothly based on service-level agreements (SLAs)
When we talk about self-service in telecommunications at Intellias, we mean a specific catalog of digital features. Here are telecom self-service features that our expertise covers.
Self-care web application:
- Self-care portal for B2C/B2B users and dealers
- CMS for self-care portal configuration and maintenance
- Basic enterprise integrations – SSO (single sign-on), ordering, inventory, eligibility
- Integration with product catalog and billing
- User document ID validation – ID scanning and validation for identification flows
Multi-channel portal for mobile and fixed-line business:
- Implementation of web and mobile applications
- Support for mobile and fixed communication flows
- Shopping cart based on product catalog and partner offers
- Serviceability and availability of inventory checks in the order process
- Chatbot for common queries and chat with support agents
Custom self-service flows:
- New user flows – eSIM activation, first activation of FTTx users (Fiber to the X, or any broadband network using optical fiber for last-mile telecommunications), equipment ordering and activation, etc.
- Over-the-top (OTT), microfinance, gaming, and entertainment flows
- Marketing campaign manager – either internal or through an integration
- Location-based ads
- eCommerce integrations for AI predictions and advice on purchases
No matter what you focus on — a self-care web application, a multi-channel portal, or custom self-service solutions — you need expertise. These are the hows and whats of telecom self-provisioning that shouldn’t be underestimated.
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Technology stack: What’s under the hood of a telecom self-care app?
The technology stack will vary depending on the business task. That’s why we will showcase possible technologies behind a B2C or B2B telecom portal using real examples.
Customer self-service portal for a mobile phone operator
We’ve developed a telecom self-care portal for a leading software and services provider to Tier 1 telecommunications companies. We achieved the following results by developing the app and integrating it with the client’s infrastructure:
- Integration of the client’s core system and databases with infrastructure of mobile operators
- Eight feature teams providing backend and frontend development
- Refinement and refactoring of the client’s system to optimize its performance
- Development of a user account for setting up services and generating reports on calls made and services used
- Integration of a billing solution into the end client’s OSS/BSS ecosystem
- Deployment of new features, bug fixes, and L3 support
- Implementation of a new UI/UX
- Establishment of key development workflows and infrastructure environment
- Creation of a single knowledge base for the client’s engineering teams
We used the following technologies:
Apache Camel / Couchbase / Docker / Drools / Java 8 / Jenkins / Kenan / Oracle / Perforce / PostgreSQL / React / Spring 4
Smart CapEx solution for profit-proven network planning
We built a web application to evaluate network capital expenditure (CapEx) nd increase profits for a telco that provides services based on a broad range of fixed and mobile technologies. Using location data and historical network analytics, we’ve developed a solution with the following features:
- A straightforward web services architecture with a modern UI for the server and client parts
- Smooth integration with both internal and third-party services to build unified analytics for efficient decision-making
- Advanced location-based features such as coverage heatmaps, service quality visualizations, network interference, and sophisticated economic calculations
- Algorithms for intelligent data processing to get actionable insights based on rich business intelligence reports and data analytics
- Recognition and interpretation of geographical patterns for strategic network expansion
- Aggregated device-based statistics (brand, model, 5G/LTE support) to calculate optimal rates and ROI indicators
- Digital modeling that reproduces a live physical network according to population density and traffic demand
We used the following technologies:
Java / SpringBoot / ReactJS / Leaflet / Kubernetes / Elasticsearch / Grafana / Kibana / GeoServer / PostgreSQL / PostGIS / Oracle
Compared to digital-native businesses, telcos still face challenges. Telecom self-provisioning is frustrating when it comes to integrating legacy corporate systems, finding alignment with business processes, and providing an omnichannel customer experience. But it shouldn’t be.
Self-service in telecommunications: Three main challenges to take on
We consider the following three central stumbling blocks for telcos in their digital transformation journey to telecom self-provisioning:
Integration with legacy corporate systems
For historical reasons, telcos are still using legacy systems. In modernizing existing operational and business support systems (OSS/BSS), digital transformation might take years and millions of dollars. That’s why it might also be challenging to develop a telecom self-service portal.
In short, self-care applications are frontend software for accessing business process functionality driven by backend components such as order management, billing, or enterprise resource planning systems.
Your way to telecom self-provisioning would be easier if your backend systems were up to date, designed on open integration principles, and not vendor-locked. In this case, integration is done with an existing open API and is largely a technical problem. Integration becomes a more organizational issue in cases with a legacy vendor-locked back end.
Business process alignment
Business process alignment is specifically relevant for B2B self-care implementations and jurisdictions with security requirements such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In this case, client self-management flows will be embedded into the existing business process. Development of self-care systems must align with business processes that require additional effort.
Using a single product catalog and ensuring an omnichannel experience
The best results are achieved if the self-service application uses an API toward one enterprise product catalog. And yes, that is only sometimes the case. Having the product catalog as a source of truth ensures you can offer up-to-date products to a precise audience at the right prices. This is essential so you don’t frustrate your clients with outdated information.
A telecom portal can help resolve multiple business tasks. Flexible systems enabling customer self-care for telecom can include various features, from providing control over rates and bills for customers to integrating mobile accounts with a bank.
Customer self-service for telecom provides benefits for your customers and your business. It allows you to differentiate yourself among competitors, lower the cost of operations, and increase ARPU and sales conversion rates. Moreover, a telecom portal helps you to better understand your customers and, as a result, provide the best omnichannel digital experience.
Contact our experts regarding anything related to self-service in telecommunications to ensure that the freedom you give to your customers results in your business’s success.