In Insights

5G Could Create The Need For A Dramatic Change In CX Strategy

Telcos across the world are currently engaged in their 5G rollout plans. Some countries are more advanced than others, but, in general, 5G is now appearing all over the world. But what is 5G? Most descriptions talk about it being faster than 4G, but is the only advantage the ability to download some music faster than before?

5G is actually quite a bit more than a network upgrade. I think there will be several unexpected knock-on effects of this rollout that customer service and customer experience directors need to be aware of.

First, these are the big changes to be aware of:

  • Speed: it’s not the most important change, but it is significantly faster than 4G – download speeds should be up by around 500%.
  • Low Latency: latency in networks is the time it takes for packets of data to ping around from one place to another. The user experiences latency problems as disconnections or delays on the line. With voice calls this isn’t usually too much of a problem, but if the connection is powering a Virtual Reality system, or a surgeon performing an operation remotely, then eliminating these small delays on the line is critical. Imagine operating a remote scalpel and then the screen freezes…
  • Internet of Things (IoT) Support: have you ever been at a rock concert and tried to get a data connection on your 4G phone? With thousands of other devices nearby it can sometimes be impossible. 5G removes this problem, making it possible for millions to devices to be nearby and functioning normally. This is becoming important as more and more sensors and online measuring devices are used – for example to monitor air or water quality.

The list could go on, but our focus isn’t networks, it’s the customer experience. How could these 5G changes lead to a need to rethink CX strategy?

The last point is the most important. As 5G creates a more comprehensive and normalised IoT environment we will soon find that almost every electronic device we buy for our home or office is connected to the Internet. Everything is online.

It’s already happening in some unexpected places. Almost every new car will now be connected – thousands of sensors will be updating the manufacturer on performance and when maintenance is required. In many cases, your car might be sitting in the garage at night resolving a problem you were not even aware of.

Homes are already populated with devices such as Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home. Our phones, laptops, iPads, Kindles, printers, security cameras, doorbells, and thermostats are already connected. Gradually everything will become connected to the IoT, from every lightbulb to the fridge, oven, and your dog’s fitness monitor.

Think what this means for a customer support strategy. Each home environment is individual. The device manufacturer has no control over the ISP network or wifi system being used. Suddenly electronic device manufacturers have far less control over the environment they will operate within.

When a customer calls to say they can’t get their new Smart TV to work then is there a problem with the TV itself, the remote controller, the cables, the home network, the ISP, or the customer – because they are now so confused that everything is so difficult to install?

Brands building consumer products that are now routinely going to function online need to rethink their support processes. How can ISP and home network problems be quickly identified? In addition, if home networks are making your product perform poorly then will the customer accept that it’s not your fault?

As 5G is rolled out and the IoT truly enters our life, I think that device manufacturers need to think carefully about how many extra variables are entering their support universe. Many unhappy customers may be let down because their ISP isn’t up to scratch, but they are not going to acknowledge this – they will just stop using your products.

Please get in touch with me directly on LinkedIn here if you want to discuss these ideas further. Interested in learning more about ICON’s customer experience solutions? Please contact ICON’s Mark Matthews.

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