I recently participated in a webcast held in conjunction with IDC entitled, “The Future of Customer Experience for Telcos”. Two experts in this field, Andy Hicks of IDC, and Elmar Rode, the Oracle communications industry expert for CX, joined me.
The webcast followed an IDC InfoBrief, sponsored by Oracle, which looks at the future of CX. With the InfoBrief concluding that CX will become the main differentiator among Telcos - the key question addressed by the webcast is not if to invest in CX, but where to invest in CX to avoid falling behind. For those that missed it—here’s an edited transcript from the session – but you can always watch the webcast here (registration required).
Neil Pridham: How is customer experience different in the telecom industry?
Andy Hicks: When telcos began measuring themselves with Net Promoter Score (NPS), they discovered they were at the bottom. That was a real wake-up call, because they had traditionally focused on things that they knew how to assure, such as whether the network services were available or billing errors. They thought they were doing a good job. However, when they actually looked at the NPS rankings, they realized that there was an urgent need for improvement. They had to redefine what they meant by “customer experience”.
Neil Pridham: Where should companies focus their efforts to improve NPS and subsequently, customer experience?
Andy Hicks: You could pick almost any aspect of the telco organization and do something to improve customer experience. However, to achieve the greatest benefit, you should focus on business level KPIs, and make certain that everything in the organization is moving towards something that is measured on a business outcome. For example, if you want to increase the lifetime value of the customer, you need to make sure that they can easily execute transactions. That means your transactions platform has to be very easy to use and seamlessly integrated with other services. You also have to design enough additional services in order for them to have something to actually buy, such as content or a roaming package.
Neil Pridham: Can you talk a little more about where CSP companies should focus their time investment to get the most out of their CX strategy?
Andy Hicks: It’s all about next best investment. If customer experience is a priority, then you have to focus your new spending, your innovation spending, making sure that you get the best bang for the buck. A good example of this is customer care and retail stores. Previously, retail stores were not a focus area, and in some telcos, they were almost an embarrassment. But now, people are realizing that your NPS can be disproportionately impacted by face-to-face interactions. The retail store really is the front face of your brand.
So, people are working on integrating the customer journey across channels. It’s back to omni-channel, but really includes every channel. You should be able to begin a journey on a telco’s website, and then physically complete it in-store. It’s all about identifying your top-level goals. If you want to reduce churn, then add predictive churn analytics, but you also use those analytics to identify sticking points in the customer journey.
You need to examine how to improve your process—not just which customers will churn next month or in six months’ time. You need to make sure that you’re allocating money to the processes that will best improve your customer experience score, even if some other departments are getting less in terms of innovation funding than they used to.
Neil Pridham: Finally, could you summarize the top three issues that telcos should focus on to improve their own customers' experiences?
Andy Hicks: (Slide image to support)