Telecommunications

What happens when you deliver poor customer experiences and get complaints? You might ignore your customers — or worse, blame them — and lose them for life. Or you might fix their problems and earn their loyalty. What you and your employees will do depends on your customer culture.  In a global survey by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, 56 percent of companies described themselves as customer centric. Only 12 percent of their customers agreed.

This image illustrates the discrepancy in interpretation between how companies traditionally develop vertically into a number of distinct silos as growth takes hold – but that your customers will always interact with the company horizontally (they don’t care what business unit helps them with the product and/or service they require – they just want an exceptional overall experience.)

The telecommunications industry continues to face a number of challenges when it comes to the development of improved customer experience and services.

Some of the problems are self-inflicted due to numerous well-publicised technical issues that have affected the network and how companies have handled the backlash; employees who are not prepared, trained or authorised to provide flexible solutions to specific customer difficulties; some of the problems have developed due to the lag in the development of business & customer strategy processes; and emerging technologies can allow for better customer-centric strategies are not implemented fast enough (if at all.)

One of the bigger issues in terms of Customer Experience and the Telecommunications field continues to be the reliance on outdated methods of connecting with customers.  Naturally the ability to use the telephone as a source of communication is inherent in the industry — but the telecommunications industry is one of the last to adopt the use of array of digital technologies available and always seems to be trying to keep up with the best methods rather than creating them with new innovation.

If you look at the mobile operators, this quote from Steve Summer (VP Sales EMEA, Neustar Inc) encapsulates the one of the primary problems outstanding with that industry:

“Mobile phone numbers are key assets that have been taken for granted and undervalued by the mobile industry for years.  They are consumed in their thousands every day.  They are acquired, upgraded, re-assigned and switched from one operator to the next.  They are used to lure new subscribers in with tempting deals and thrown away without a second thought.”

The industry is seemingly either dismissing the instant connection that they have with customer or abusing it by viewing it as solely another opportunity to directly market to them — there are more active mobile phone subscriptions in the UK and USA than there are people.  According to recent studies, people check their phones over 150x/day so there is an immediate and necessary connection for mobile phone companies to explore.

For the communications companies offering television-based services, the TV remains central to the home entertainment experience for a majority of consumers (despite its greatly exaggerated demise –mainly to the rising importance of broadband deployment – i.e. In the UK, households continue to watch in excess of 4+ hours of television every day, in the US, it exceeds 5+ hours daily.)  For those offering broadband access, the time spent using the internet is higher than that and only going to grow in the future.

These statistics support that the potential audience is not only there, but easily accessible, to begin the development of an effective customer experience strategy.

With that potential receptive audience, and in truly customer-centric companies, all individuals (regardless of their roles) have to base their decisions and actions on the belief that what’s best for the customer is best for the businessNew evidence shows how a strong customer culture drives future business performance and supports market strategies.

New research, based on a quantitative study across more than 150 businesses, spanning various industries and functions, identifies seven cultural factors that drive customer satisfaction, revenue and profit growth, innovation, and new product success.

These are important predictors of future results and early indicators of risks and opportunities related to retaining customers and acquiring new ones. This research on highly customer-centric businesses like Amazon, Virgin and salesforce.com tell us that these factors are disciplines that, if practised and embedded, create superior value for customers and sustainable growth in value for stockholders. They can be measured and benchmarked for any organization.

There are numerous straightforward opportunities to quickly improve aspects of the customer experience for those in the telecommunications arena – be it telephony, broadband, subscription television or mobile phone operators.  Most of them can start to show immediate results in short order if the strategy and deployment are completed accurately.

Our founder created a comprehensive customer relationship strategy for BellSouth, a US-based telecommunications company that saved them in excess of $150M a year & helped sell the company for $86 Billion to AT&T – the largest provider of mobile telephony and the largest provider of fixed telephony in the United States.  The entire Customer Experience Management (CEM) project was completed and delivered in under four months at a very modest budget under $7.5 million.

The process originated being initially retained by the client’s marketing agency to help build the complete research, strategy and presentation decks for a new business development pitch for the company to launch a new product line.

Through a number of brief discussions with the client, the realisation was that there was a much more beneficial and lucrative opportunity for BellSouth to fundamentally reform their corporate strategy, operational management and customer experience – particularly around re-engineering the sales process and developing a set of tools to involve both new & existing customers on a continual basis so that the customers felt engaged with the company.

  • Grew the project size from original $800k budget to in excess of $7.4M in less than three weeks through the development a comprehensive innovation strategy to both enhance the bottom line as well streamline internal costs.
  • Saved client in excess of $150M+ yearly in operational costs in first year based on a >$8M project that rebuilt the business strategy to focus on customer acquisition, retention & satisfaction.
  • Traditional print – response rate increased 63% yr/yr.
  • Transactional Direct Mail – response rate growth 26% yr/yr.
  • Enterprise – CRM/Virtual Relationship – 205% of objective goal
  • Achieved 12 quarters growth, 150% growth in online
  • Increased customer satisfaction of the company through the deployment of selected surveys in excess of 40+% within six months of launch.
  • Increased sales of the numerous product lines both new & existing customers in excess of 15% in the first year of launch.

 

(Full case study available for review)

Whether it is:

  1. Implementation or revision of Net Promoter® score (NPS®.)  NPS is one of the more common current key metrics deployed within large organisations in helping to measure customer experience.  The core problem is that NPS will attempt to tell you how you are performing in the eyes of your customer base through the use of a simple score – but not how to fix the root problems that customers encounter.
  2. Developing a comprehensive social media strategy that meets the internal privacy & legal needs of the institution while providing an engaged level of customer support;
  3. Reforming the processes and responses of call centre agents to meet the varied needs and improve the resolution of customer’s issues;
  4. Changing the sales process to not only improve the conversion rate, but also meet the evolving developments in technology and how both emerging markets and younger generations have adapted to use such technology;
  5. Improving overall customer satisfaction – traditionally an area found lacking for those in the financial services domain.  People have traditionally “tolerated” their telecommunications providers, rather than seen them as a core part of their everyday life that they are — and then leveraged that experience to recommend them to their colleagues.

These are just a few examples of the many ideas that can be quickly implemented within a telecommunications company — there are many areas to explore to develop a comprehensive customer experience strategy.

By “planting a flag” and showing that investing time, budget and effort in developing a core philosophy of meeting the fundamental needs of your customers, you are betting that this tact of developing a customer strategy is a winning business plan (as customer-centric companies like Virgin, Amazon and Apple have proven with their astronomical growth over the past decade.)

This is not only from the perspective of the bottom line on the balance sheet, but provides tangential benefits such as improved employee satisfaction, improved public relations opportunities, lower operational and marketing costs, brand recognition and loyalty, etc.

The logical first step is to identify the “quick win” opportunities – this will provide traction across the organisation to show the value of the investing & developing your customer experience strategy.

There will be an educational element to the initial discussions as well – providing insight and a list of different opportunities available to company leadership to improve your customer’s experience and interactions with the company.

We can provide a comprehensive 30 day assessment on where to kick off and help develop a method to both develop & improve your customer’s experience with your company.  Please feel free to contact us and we look forward to helping your company.