TELCOS are currently facing one of the greatest challenges in the industry’s history in the form of the Covid-19 pandemic, Bain and Co said.

It noted that there will be three priorities that should be looked at in tackling the issues faced during this time of crisis.

“Like other organisations, they have a duty to, first and foremost, support and care for their employees. But telcos are also under enormous pressure to continue delivering infrastructure and services critical to everyone, especially during a crisis of this magnitude,” said the report, pointing out that executives are currently scrambling to handle a host of issues simultaneously.

The first item suggested by Bain and Co is for telcos to help people adjust for the long haul. Considering offices, schools, and public places have been shut down to contain Covid-19, there has been a large shift towards remote working, and utilising video and teleconferencing.

Telcos are in a unique position in which they can facilitate this transition, the least of which is offering lower rates for connectivity, as well as standing by to assist customers upgrade their services.

“Telcos can offer comprehensive ‘workplace-as-a-service’ solutions for customers, including remote working and conferencing hardware, unified communication packages and partnerships, and virtual private network (VPN) capabilities. They can also provide advice on how to set up and troubleshoot home office products, and even productivity checks with remote experts,” said Bain and Co.

Another avenue where they can assist is by responding to the needs of enterprise customers through payment flexibility or creating ad hoc support teams to assist critical, essential organisations.

“Those that act quickly and effectively can help people adjust to the difficult situation. By doing so, they can also build greater trust and loyalty among the communities they serve and reaffirm their core value proposition,” adds the research house.

However, with the increase in people working from home, there is a follow-on need for stability in the telecommunication processes.

“For example, the crisis will probably accelerate adoption of telcos’ digital customer-service channels and services. Companies can make this easier by directing customers to self-service channels through quick, coordinated changes to their automated voice-response programmes or call-centre scripts,” said Bain and Co.

It added that remote teams that meet the needs of different customer groups, such as seniors or professionals working from home, are another means of offering assistance.

Call centres will also be inundated with more customer inquiries during the outbreak, and Bain and Co suggests telcos consider planning new outbound contact programmes. Feedback management tools to better understand and anticipate the needs of customers would not go amiss either.

Measures that improve network stability by resolving congestion from traffic spikes is another issue, and by addressing connectivity issues proactively, telcos can maintain and enhance business continuity not only for themselves, but their customers as well.

In transitioning to digital facets of everyday life, cybersecurity becomes increasingly relevant, and Bain and Co suggests for telcos to fortify their own security postures and ensure their customers have access to the best possible defences against cybersecurity threats.

This can be done through the sharing of best practices while working remotely, as well as testing the security protocols of business continuity arrangements, while working to identify and eliminate vulnerabilities by ramping up security through testing their own defences.

“Ultimately, what’s at stake with Covid-19 is not just a risk of increased cybercrime and socioeconomic instability, but also the lives and well-being of millions of people,” said Bain and Co, adding that telcos have a vital role to play in helping communities and organisations respond to the pandemic.

“If handled effectively, telcos can also strengthen their relationships with the people they serve and help everyone emerge from the crisis even stronger,” said the consulting firm. — March 26, 2020

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