Mobile Network Operators are making foray into digital services, and digital services, broadly speaking can encompass anything from ordering a movie ticket online, to downloading music tunes from a music streaming service, to making payments for an in-store purchase using a mobile wallet service.
The truth that is often overlooked is that digital services seldom transform the underlying service. People still go to cinemas for the cinematic experience, people still find music a fantastic way to keep them going throughout the day and people still use money they earn to pay for goods they want.
With digitalization, what has actually changed is the way goods and services are brought to the market, promoted, traded, paid for, managed, accounted for and assessed. And a good example to illustrate this is to take a look at a service that is all too common in any corner of the world – the booking of bus tickets.
Admittedly, bus tickets on both recurring journeys such as daily commuting to work and long cross-country journeys must be booked early to avoid last-minute inconveniences. Before these services were moved to the Internet ie, before the era of digitalization, booking and purchasing of bus tickets or any travel tickets meant that someone has to visit the physical counters and make payments physically to obtain a piece of paper which than becomes the ‘ticket’.
With digitalization, a few taps on a smartphone is all there is to have cash transferred to a ticket booking app and for a digital ticket to lodge itself on the screen of the device. The ticket can be reproduced at any point of the journey, has all the records needed to validate the payment and will always remain in the system for records purposes. The app that enables this manages the payments and seat allocations, while collecting deep insights on booking and travel patterns that can be used by the bus service providers to improve their services. The information available via the app also allows people to compare prices, find great bargains and compare service quality.
In short, for the common user, what digitalization actually does is improve the overall experience of the service.
Summing up, a user will see that digital ticketing:
Saves time – a process which was time consuming and inconvenient can now be completed in no time and in the comfort of one’s home.
Saves money - By keeping an eye on special offers and special discounts offered by travel websites, commuters are able to save on their travel costs and are able to snap up the best offers. Loyalty and reward programs help commuters turn their journeys into cash and gifts.
Enables travelers to make the most of their journeys - Booking online via an app or a travel website means that all the information and choices are transparent and readily available to the traveler, enabling him or her to choose the best seats and occasionally, meals and stops.
Ensures Payment Safety - Online bus ticket booking system also provides for safe and protected payment as payment methods are well secured, connections to bank accounts or credit cards are protected on both ends and transaction records are available for print outs, physically and digitally.
Secures Private Information – Unlike information shared over physical counters and travel agents, information entered into trusted applications are secured within these applications and available only to authorized personnel. Personal information therefore resides within the cloud rather than in personal computers that can be accessed by any user.
Makes Cancellation and Refunds Easy – Again, customers are spared the hassle of making physical visits to cancel or reschedule their journeys. Changes can be made online or via apps on their mobile devices.
Offers Better Customer Service – Websites and mobile apps enable online messaging and other digitalized customer care points such as email help, online chat or a call. Self-help portals and reference libraries allow people to reach the necessary information and help in no time.
The rise of digital services is definitely spurred by the advent of the Internet and in the last 10 years, by the tremendous growth in mobile communications enabled by the continuous advancements in mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones as well as high speed data connection, both on mobile and fixed networks. But what is really making it phenomenal is the way traditional services are being packaged and delivered and how they are changing customer experiences in a big way.