We are now at the end of the 3 day summit about Customer Experience Management in Telecoms, and what a summit it has been. There were great speakers from the top telecoms companies across the globe, vendors servicing this space, and independent industry experts, all hosted by the charismatic Ingrid Lindberg, CXO & Founder of Chief Customer.The event kicked off with a fascinating and honest session from Ingrid, CXO and Founder of Chief Customer, bringing insights from other industries such as retail, finance and hospitality, and highlighting the fact that if companies dare to ask customers what they think of their service, they may actually tell them. (Hope ‘that airline’ gets back to you soon Ingrid.)
Service Provider and Vendor Sessions
The presentations and workshops went from strength to strength, with a number of Communication Service Providers (CSPs) talking about their digital transformation initiatives, what’s worked and what missed the mark. CX in telco is clearly coming from 2 different camps: those concerned with the after-sales customer service experience, and those looking to improve their product offerings, communication, and sales to their markets.
Antonio Ivankovic of Go, (Malta’s largest telecoms provider) said, “Customer Experience today is reactive”, with companies waiting for customers to come to them to request a product or service, or to report an issue and then attempting to please the customer in that moment. His company has made moves towards actively designing a more proactive customer experience by focusing on potential customers, in addition to the focus on established leads.
KPN, the national telecoms provider in the Netherlands, has moved to a fully customer-centric approach, weaving customer centricity into the job descriptions and targets of every employee in the organisation. Customer Experience Lead, Susan Oudshoorn, stated that for this approach to succeed, “Customer Experience should be a mindset, and not a job”.
Developing such a culture clearly takes time. For some, the journey into customer centricity has just begun. For others, it hasn’t even started. Either way, becoming a customer-centric organisation won’t happen overnight. As Michael Seeger of Ericsson said, ‘We will still talk about the need to be more customer-centric in 5 years time’.
Transforming the Customer Experience
Ingrid sat down with Aaron Boasman-Patel, the VP of AI and Customer Experience from TMForum, for a fireside chat. They discussed the challenges of defining the digital future in telecoms, touching on many subjects. The key messages were, according to Aaron, “Digital transformation is difficult, anyone who tells you it’s easy, is wrong”, and that businesses “need a culture revolution to get into the mindset of the customer”.
Opportunities to improve the customer experience prevail in telecoms. With multiple channels employed and accessible to providers, from SMS, App Push, and Call Centre interactions via phone or Live Chat, through to physically meeting the customer in-store, via the paper bill and the traditional digital channels such as web and email, there are many ways to provide contextually relevant, next-best-offers to customers.
Exponea Roundtable Sessions
Our roundtable sessions were a great success. We asked the question, “Why Has Telco Fallen Behind Retail in Personalisation?”, breaking the conversation down into three main topics:
The Challenge of Managing Complex Legacy Ecosystems
The larger more established CSPs all agreed that they had very complex infrastructure, with tens or hundreds of systems they need to make sense from. Attempting to slim down such sizeable infrastructure can involve huge projects and massive investments. Such projects don’t always bring the business benefits that were hoped for, of which the primary aim is to understand how a business can truly know their customer – and how to resolve customer identities across so many systems – into a single customer profile. Most companies are working towards, or aspiring towards, this aim, consolidating their customer information into a more centralised database. They agree that implementing centralised middleware, such as a Customer Data Platform, could be the answer to these issues.
Data Paralysis: The Pitfalls of Data Overload
The discussion tables agreed that the complex systems discussed produce massive amounts of data, leading to huge data lakes. There is confusion over who should own the data; whether it should be Marketing, IT, or eCommerce. Employees don’t even know where to start, and don’t know what data they can, and should use to help them provide the optimal experiences for their customers. One CSP stated they are trying to develop a single view onto their data to make it easier for their teams to find and process the information, and actually do something useful with it without relying on highly skilled data scientists to find the insights they need. Delegates agreed this would make it easier to address the issue of how to utilise back-end network and customer service record data to help drive personalisation for sales/marketing purposes at the front end.
How to Delight Your Customers: Enabling Conversations and Pushing Messages
After we had discussed the issues faced by CSPs and the telecoms industry as a whole, we addressed how retailers are leading the way in terms of personalising the customer experience.
We talked about how successful companies, both in retail and beyond, aim to be customer-centric, and ensure their company culture enables that. This is still a sticking point in some of the more established CSPs, which are run at the top level with a more traditional mindset.
We discussed experiences of how retailers utilise personalisation to turn multiple touchpoints into a single journey of consistent experiences, rather than separate, siloed interactions.
Some CSPs are making use of segmentation to target audiences, though many have yet to make even these baby steps towards anything substantial. Hyper-Personalisation (personalising on an individual level) is the dream; one or two companies are experimenting in this area, but as a whole, the industry is still lagging behind retail when it comes to this.
We also talked about how retailers are maximising their customer marketing outreach, not just by personalising the ‘What’ (i.e products, content), but also the ‘When’. They were intrigued to learn just how retailers, by having access to and making use of particular data, are able to understand the best time to reach individual customers (i.e the optimum send-time to email an individual based on the time they are most likely to be looking at the email), and can maximise open rates and conversions through this, leading to such high increases in revenue just for that channel.
Takeaways From the Roundtable Sessions
The key learnings from these sessions were that providers can make emotional connections to their customers, and connect the online/offline experiences into a single journey so they can make the next-best-offer more relevant.
By collecting customer interactions from all touchpoints, and combining data from back-end systems into a single profile, they can use analytics and automation tools to personalise those interactions, based on the needs and wants of the customer at that time.
The Opportunity for the Telco Industry is Wide Open
Overarching themes from the 3 days revolved highly around Digital Transformation to improve the Customer Experience in terms of Customer Service. Most CSPs are using NPS and CSAT indices to measure how their customers feel about their service, and how well they are supporting customers when they raise an issue.
But increasingly, companies are beginning to find ways to combine the after sales support journey with the front end customer acquisition and retention journeys, to create an overall customer lifecycle. This lifecycle would utilise the vast amounts of data collected along the way, improve the Customer Experience at every touchpoint.
It’s clear that the Telco industry is primed and ready to make huge leaps forward in developing the Customer Experience. Many companies have already recognised their problems, now it’s time to take action and get started on that journey.
To finish on a quote from Ingrid, “It’s a great big marathon, filled with a tonne of sprints”.