Telcos and MVNO companies that start building their omnichannel experience fret that it would require a massive amount of effort, time, and money. To some extent, this is true. However, if a company takes it one step at a time, it will shortly reap the first benefits.
Even a simple mobile application can unify multiple telecom channels and considerably enhance the customer experience. Research by Google indicates that one in two mobile app users turn to apps to make purchase decisions. Of these, 45% use mobile apps to look for more business or product information, and 29% use apps further down the funnel to make a purchase, either online or offline.
A good mobile application can connect digital and physical experiences telcos offer, unify different touchpoints, increase the upselling potential, and create a seamless customer journey. So what is a good mobile application and which critical features should it have to create a competitive advantage on the telecom market?
Why seamless telecom experience is impossible without a mobile app
We used to send a USSD code to learn the balance, we were ok with buying scratch cards at physical stores, we didn’t mind talking to a consultant when choosing a tariff plan. We might still do all these things. However, the world and consumer preferences are changing so fast that traditional telecom channels and services like SMS are not enough anymore. Telecom businesses need to meet their customers at every touchpoint from physical stores to social media to smartphones.
According to recent studies, the average person spends over four hours a day on their mobile device, and 78% of the population use smartphones today compared to 17% in 2008. Therefore, a mobile app can be a powerful tool for reaching modern customers, especially for telecommunication companies.
Telcos that have already launched mobile apps highlight the value they obtain. For instance, Lebara’s customers can use MyLebara mobile app to check their balance, top up their account, control different bundles, buy additional services, and more. As a result, the company can use it as a source of valuable customer data and as an upselling tool.
The company developed this solution in partnership with N-iX, an Eastern European software development vendor , which implemented a comprehensive Digital Transformation for them.
While a lot of telcos struggle to deliver the mobile solutions their customers would use and love, My Lebara has become one of the most successful examples on the market. The app has a 4.6 rating, and it is one of Lebara’s most successful products.
The role of mobile in delivering omnichannel telecom experience
However, launching new diversified services and digital solutions doesn’t necessarily mean a better customer experience. All these channels need to work together and give the customers what they expect of them, and not more. They should be easy to switch between and provide personalized services. Thus, telcos should strive to deliver a seamless omnichannel experience, and a mobile app can play a vital role in it.
It is worth noting that omnichannel is a high priority for 63% of US telecom businesses. But only 27% or fewer successfully execute on any single omni objective, as stated by KMPG.
While other software solutions necessary for implementing omnichannel, such as migration to the cloud, microservices, and enterprise software, are costly and time-consuming, the development of a mobile app offers great ROI. For instance, traditional scratch cards are expensive to produce and distribute. And a mobile app that offers a top-up feature can easily replace them.
Features and functionality of a mobile application for seamless telecom experience
So what functionality should a mobile app have to ensure seamless user experience for the telecom consumer? Our tech experts at N-iX have worked with telecom industry leaders for over 5 years and developed numerous applications. Here are the key features we propose telecom businesses to include in a mobile application:
- Selector. Allows the user to manage, top up, and purchase products for several SIM cards under one account.
- Balance. The header contains information about the selected SIM card and its balance, as well as the option to top it up.
- My Plans. Shows the plans that the user is currently subscribed to, offers options to view plan details, set the plan to auto-renewal or purchase new plans.
- Allowances. Grouped by type - calls (national, international, specific country, etc.), data, messages. Since the user may have multiple plans with different expiration dates, there might be several data allowances.
- More Menu. Viewing the state of the SIM card balance and available allowances are by far the most valuable use cases. The rest of the functionality is hidden in the easily accessible drawer menu.
- Auto Top-Up. Expands the balance card to show the auto top-up settings.
- Settings. The user can select the top-up amount and a monthly cap. The threshold is shown, but it is usually pre-set at the server-side and locked.
- Payment method. If the user has a saved payment method, it will be preselected, so all that needs to be done is pressing the “Save changes” button.
- Multiple payment methods are supported if paying for different products with different payment methods is preferable (corporate expenses, etc.).
- The user can set a payment method as primary if it is allowed to be used for recurring payments. If, however, as in this case, the user also has a saved payment method that does not support recurring payments, it will be grayed out to avoid the appearance of an error.
- A number of payment methods are available depending on the market (Klarna for Germany, iDEAL for the Netherlands, etc.)
- In case the user doesn’t have a saved payment method, adding a new one is simple and effortless.
- Next to each allowance block, there’s an option to view the usage history. When selected, the user will be taken to the “History” screen with the filter automatically preset to that type of activity. History screen is also available from the drawer menu, and if accessed that way, the filter will be set to show all activity.
- The activity entry shows what type of activity it was, when it happened, what accounts were charged (e.g. 1 minute of a 2-minute call was charged from the national calls allowance and another minute from the main balance).
- The user can filter the list of activities by their type.
Expertise you need to develop a mobile app for telecom
Before starting the development of a mobile app like the one we’ve described, it’s important to formulate the product vision, define the project goals and success criteria, do a feasibility study, and make sure the solution will bring value to the target audience. Then, you can use this information to create a Work Breakdown Structure and a Product Backlog. All these activities are usually done during a Discovery Phase, and if it is successful, you can start development.
To develop a mobile application for telecom, you need to have the specialists with the necessary tech and domain expertise. For instance, if you opt for native mobile development, you will need to gather a development team of 1-2 iOS developers, 1-2 Android developers, a QA tester, a Business Analyst, and a Project Manager.
Since the app has to be supported by the back-end and integrated with other solutions and external APIs, you will also need a back-end team, which could comprise 2 software developers and one QA specialist. Therefore, you will have the following team composition:
- 1-2 iOS developers
- 1-2 Android developers
- 2 QA testers
- 2 back-end developers
- 1 Business Analyst
- 1 Project Manager
Telecommunication companies offer multiple services and have numerous internal processes supported by digital solutions. Back-office applications include a CRM, Enterprise Management Software, Databases, and more. Also, there are customer-facing applications, such as websites, post-paid billing systems, SMS, and others. A mobile application cannot work in isolation. Instead, it should be integrated with these systems. Therefore, the team should have relevant expertise in telecom to deliver an efficient solution.
How N-iX can help
N-iX has provided software development services for over 16 years, five of them in telecom software development. The company has over 900 experts, and more than 200 of them are involved in telecom projects. We have partnered with Lebara, MASMOVIL, Top Connect, Gogo, and other telecom leaders, scaling their development capabilities and providing unique domain and tech expertise. Whether you need to develop a mobile application or implement a Digital Transformation of your business, our experts have the skills and experience you need. Contact us to learn more.
Omnichannel customer-centric experience cannot be created overnight. It comprises numerous building blocks, and each of them is vital for creating a unified customer journey.
A comprehensive mobile application can become a key step on the way to omnichannel for telecom organizations and bring a lot of tangible benefits. It may help telcos cut down expenses on physical stores, gather valuable information about the users, introduce new services, increase upselling opportunities, create a personalized experience, take control of customer behaviour, and more. However, it should meet the users’ needs and have only those features that add value. Therefore, it is critical to have a team of experts who can take it from the idea into a successful working product.
Learn more about MVNO solution development services at N-iX.