Interview with Lasha Tabidze, COO at Beeline
Recent times have proven the crucial importance of digitalisation when it comes to operating a successful business in today’s world. The process, which has been ongoing for quite a while, has been inadvertently accelerated by the global pandemic. Those companies operating through digital strategies and developing digital products tend to be the ones most able to easily adapt to the new environment, and Beeline continues to be one such brand on the Georgian market.
It was years ago now that the digital agenda first became an integral part of the strategy urging the company to implement innovations at a high pace.
Q. Beeline customers are no strangers to digital services. However, has the pandemic shown an increase in demand? If so, how much do you estimate the brand will develop further in this direction?
A. The business environment (and the world in general) has been moving at a high pace towards digitization. However, the pandemic inadvertently accelerated this rate even more. Digital services create comfort and save customers a lot of time, their consumption has increased and become part of everyday life, therefore we are concentrating on providing offers such as the “Bussu” language learning platform, Beeline games, and more.
It was years ago when Beeline first started implementing digital products as a strategic advantage and will continue doing so. I estimate that the new reality is driving businesses and brands to develop digitally even more.
Q. The Beeline hotline has introduced a new feature – a voice assistant which offers a customer-tailored service. How important it is to make offers more personalized and what else is Beeline working on in this direction?
A. The customer has always been the core mover for our business strategy and we continue to design products suited to their interests.
A large proportion of customer service for telecom subscribers is experienced in a call centre. Therefore we are focused on improving that as well so our users can receive services as effectively as the available digital counterparts.
The updated Voice Assistant (SMART IVR) allows subscribers to activate or deactivate any service, access internet settings, switch to online chat, and most importantly, let one receive a customized offer. We have also created an additional hotline for receiving information and code activations for various offers: 0777.
Q. Beeline is the first company on the Georgian telecom market to offer a multifunctional chat-bot to its subscribers. How did they receive the chatbot and what were the new features added to “Super B”?
A. We first introduced a virtual assistant years ago, which of course did not have the functional capabilities of the current chatbot – Super B. However, the digital assistant engendered quite a lot of interest from the very beginning. “Super B” joined the digital world in 2019 and has been evolving ever since then. Initially, it spoke only in Georgian and provided info through Facebook Messenger, however, after going through several stages of development, it already speaks and completes tasks in three languages, is integrated on our website beeline.ge and can provide consulting, as well as provide information to the customer regarding their balance; activation/deactivation of their products; and, topping up of their balance. In a nutshell, the bot offers all telecom services.
Our chat-bot functionality is being constantly updated as through each dialogue it evolves to serve the customer more comfortably and efficiently.
Q. Providing mobile internet is one of the main directions of Beeline – we have heard on multiple occasions that the company aims to make the internet accessible to all customers. You have been actively updating and diversifying internet packages lately. Is this a way for customers to be able to find tailored offers?
A. It remains necessary to know what customers desire, what they consume and what is valuable to them. Based on these values, we can offer a tailored product that makes consumers get exactly what they want. We are constantly updating and improving offers to make products as close to subscriber needs as possible. The new package “Internet Max” provides more comfort for users. This is a completely innovative product that includes lots of megabytes during the day and unlimited internet at night (from 00.00 to 08:00).
In addition to this, we have been constantly entertaining customers with a variety of Friday promotions such as “Crazy Friday”.
Q. According to downloads, the MyBeeline app is the most popular among Android users. Has there been a recent increase in consumption considering the lockdown and what are the types of operations that can be performed through the app?
A. The app is much like a phone Office. The company put a lot of work into creating a comfortable-to-use app that could provide all the necessary services. I think it was this approach that led us to achieve a staggering 1 million downloads. The growth rate of MyBeeline app users is quite high and the pandemic has made it even more popular.
Q. You’ve mentioned that due to the struggles in the tourism sector and the huge drop in roaming services, the pandemic has led the telecom industry to have experienced a decline in revenue. What could balance out this loss in the shortest term possible?
A. The pandemic has had a significant impact on the local and international economy. Telecom revenues had been growing since the beginning of 2020. However, due to the influence of Covid-19, the growth rate in the first quarter slowed down and decreased compared to 2019 figures.
This result stems from several factors. The countrywide lockdowns, which caused a decline in revenues received from both tourism and roaming services; as well as being followed by a decline in both local sales and activities as WiFi became the major source of internet.
However, I believe that the impact will be strictly short to medium-term for the telecom industry. We assume that from the fourth quarter of this year, telecom business will begin to return to normal.
Covid-19 harmed revenue, yet on the other hand, it significantly increased the consumption of digital products and channels.
The role of telecom in the digital world has become even more important and we expect businesses to grow in this direction, both in terms of their revenue and based on the number of users of digital products.