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The Future of Fiber: CX is King

In a world where consumer options for broadband access continues to grow, customer experience is king.

Tyson Marian is Chief Commercial Officer at Plume where they’re revolutionizing the subscriber Wi-Fi experience and placing the wants and needs of the customer at heart. Marian stopped by Fiber Broadband Association’s Fiber for Breakfast webinar to share his insights on how fiber providers can utilize data to best serve their customers’ needs.

“Data has become extremely important in how we all win on customer experience, and fiber presents a phenomenal platform with so many recent investments going into its buildout,” Marian said.

First things first, Marian said, we need to realize that the traditional bundling model is a thing of the past. Historically, he explained, providers have been happy so long as customers purchased a bundle of services, like voice, video and data. But data from recent years has shown that people are less interested in the way providers have delivered voice and video.

“It’s not that people are unwilling to pay for voice or video, it’s just simply that the way they consume it has changed,” Marian explained, saying that consumers have shifted their primary modes of communication to applications like Slack, text, Whatsapp, Facebook and so on. “We’ve transitioned to this on-demand world where we’re all in need of urgency.”

What does that mean for service providers? Marian said to consider the methods we now use to communicate. “All of those services and the way we communicate today are only possible because of the cloud,” he said. “When you think of video, it’s the same story. It’s an on-demand world. On demand I call a car. On demand I get my groceries. On demand I order food. On demand I watch what I want to watch, and I binge watch it.”

It’s not that people don’t want voice or video anymore or that they don’t want to pay for it, Marian explained, but rather that the model has shifted.

Looking at Plume’s data, Marian stated how the traditional use of triple-play services has dwindled while single-play has grown to be the predominant product mix within Plume’s portfolio–and the churn rate of single-play is nearly twice that of triple-play.

“That’s the really scary thing about our industry as everything moves to single play. It’s fantastic that broadband services are growing and will continue to grow, but that is scary about it is that people churn with single-play services.”

Marian said there are two things that a provider can do to make that single-play broadband service behave like a triple-play. First, you have to find a way to offer more services.

“Clearly, we know it works when you offer a customer more services and they accept those services that they are less likely to churn,” Marian said.

Second, you need to provide a more personalized customer care experience.

“It’s no longer good enough when a customer calls us to just say, ‘Oh, go press the power button on the router, wait 10 seconds, let it go and all of your problems will be solved.’ What customers are expecting from us is a fantastic quality of experience and bespoke conversations and to have knowledge about what’s happening inside of their home from the service that they’re purchasing,” Marian explained.

Fiber allows the customer to access the most reliable, fastest connection that is tested and approved for the future. The next step involves making sure that what goes on within the home is equally as beneficial to the customer.

“The world used to be about the last mile, but today it’s about the last few millimeters,” he said. “So we have to be conscious and have the visibility as to what’s actually happening inside of our customers’ homes in order to help them solve problems.”

COVID-19 has only accelerated what we already thought was coming, Marian said. According to Plume data, across about 25 million households, since the start of the pandemic there has been a 200% increase in weekday computer usage, a 150% increase in smartphone usage, and a 120% increase in at-home device usage (including fitness devices, appliances, and more).

“And what that means is there’s a much greater strain on your network,” Marian said. Most homes have a hardware-centric solution, he continued, meaning that you’re limited to the capabilities of that device the second that it gets into the home.

“The problem is, we’re living in this world that is not static and that is going to grow, and change and increase,” he explained.

But the solution isn’t going out to buy a new piece of hardware or investing in new business models or adding even more over-the-top video services, Marian insisted. Rather, he suggested it’s about taking an incremental approach and expanding on the things we already have. It’s about making the process more interactive, more personalized for the customer.

“We all have different devices in our homes, our phones are set up differently, there are different things happening in and outside of our homes. And so why should the service be the same for everybody?” Marian questioned.

Marian said the solution is not about rejuvenating the bundle, but rather reforming it around the customer’s experience. Instead of viewing the bundle as voice, video and data, he gives the Plume’s example by looking at it as providing cybersecurity and protection, parental controls, adaptable connectivity and personal security as its own bundle of services.

With customer experience at front of mind, Marian said that’s how providers will best situate themselves to prepare for the changing demands of the future.