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Customer experience is the goal, but what are the first steps for telcos?

Customer experience solutions company Globys believes that there is a balance between technology and culture that will deliver excellent customer service.

Service providers today cite improving the “customer experience” as an important goal. But what does that mean exactly? And how do operators go about accomplishing it?

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According to Lara Albert, senior director of marketing at customer experience solutions vendor Globys, there are a number of areas in which telcos need to succeed in order to achieve the goals of customer experience.

The first is visibility, according to Albert, “visibility and transparency and an understanding that information or data does not provide insights by themselves and insights are what telcos need.” The second is an understanding that telcos can influence customer behavior by “engaging them and stimulating them by certain actions. If you use context correctly then billing, for instance, can influence customers enormously.” The third and fourth, according to Albert, “are being proactive and giving customers choice, but intelligently.” There is no benefit to anyone from just pushing more and more services at customers and hoping for the best.

The goal, argues Albert, “is personalization. Many agree with this, but to get there we must turn information into insight. To do that you need a single source of data – billing is vital and both billed and unbilled data need to be integrated and available. Then, with triggers and analytics, a telco can begin to do what the customer has to do now – figure out where he is with regard to his thresholds and limits and what his options are. This is now becoming important in the world of corporates, wholesale businesses and government accounts.”

In all of these areas, real-time or very nearly real-time data is a vital. “The fundamental question for telcos when they are looking at customer experience is ‘what behavior are you trying to influence?’” said Albert. “This focuses the mind and makes it easier to address what is otherwise a huge issue. This question gives companies a place to start.”

For instance, influencing customers to move to self-service has advantages for everyone. The customer has more control – they can split payments, organize billing hierarchies, sign up to auto pay – and feel they are getting better service. Meanwhile “the company has an instantly more loyal customer and the potential to get to the one-to-one marketing concept that was everyone’s dream a decade ago. A big issue right now is single sign-on. One or two telcos have about twelve different sign-ons for different services, which is simply not good enough. The experience must be simple.”

Albert believes there are four main functions involved in getting to the goal: Ordering, customer care, network operations and billing. She also believes that great customer experience is born from a blend of technology and culture. “Telstra, CSL, Aliant and Swisscom all have the ingredients and the culture and are becoming very good at delivering customer experience. These are companies that have gone from vision statement to road map and are well on the way.” Education is key as well, says Albert, “there is no benefit in implementing customer experience technology and walking away. Every level of the organization must be trained in how to use the technology effectively and every level should be aware of what is going on. Everyone should spend time in their shops and call centers.

The future is bright, believes Albert, even if the road might be a hard one. Mobile data provides an even richer source of insight than fixed data and the potential is huge, but “the starting point is the same. Ask what behavior you are trying to influence and then figure out what channels and tools are available to help you get there.” Telcos should not be frightened of commoditization. Every vertical has commoditization. “A coffee bean is a coffee bean, so innovate in other, customer focused ways. “Technology and culture can deliver,” says Albert, “but telcos, like everyone else, must remember that knowledge is power but information is not knowledge.”

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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