BT Q&A: Customer behaviors change more rapidly than organizations can
Increasingly savvy B2C and B2B customers are driving CSPs to go to a whole new level of managing customer experience--psychologically and technologically
BT Global will be one of the “case studies” highlighted at the upcoming Telecoms IQ’s Customer Experience Management conference in London to be held from Jan. 24-27 at Le Méridien, Piccadilly in London.
Nicola Millard, customer experience futurologist for BT Global Services will be one of the CEM experts speaking about what service providers in telecom have to do to beat out not only other telco brands, but all other brands of competitors, whether retail, banking, social networks, financial services, entertainment or any other verticals that touch customers day to day.
Connected Planet spoke with Millard about research and strategy around “customer experience” and BT Global’s initiative to become “the number-one” brand in terms of customer experience.
CP: Why is BT interested in a “customer experience futurologist”?
NM: My background is in psychology, and that is becoming of interest not only to CSPs, but to government, banking, utilities, travel, and other sectors increasingly pressured to retain existing customers and attract new ones. Neuroscience shows that 90 percent of purchasing is done emotionally and justified logically. To understand what drives emotions, service providers have to understand why customers are changing so much faster than the organizations that serve them. There are now so many influences on behavior, ranging from economy to technology infrastructure (cloud smart phones), collaboration (social networking, web 2.0 etc) and options for consumption, purchasing, collaboration and advice.
Organizations were always “built to last” not “to change” so agility hasn’t been their forté. The manner in which customers use multi-channel services going across different facets (contact centers, self service sites, mobile networking, unified communications, security) will have a profound effect on ICT packages riding above operators’ networks. Companies like BT Global want to understand what customers are doing, how and why, and then turn the information on its head to see what changes they have to go through to proactively take action.
CP: How is the approach to “customer experience” changing?
NM: in a recession, we see that retaining customers is more important than getting new ones, so we focus more on understanding why customers leave. In recent consumer research, we found 86% of consumers believe “ease of doing business” is a very strong factor. So now we have to determine what is “easy” for customers and who are our valued customers that we should first target. And so we are very focused on how to engage valued customers before they leave. Even a simple phone call can be effective to let the customer know we see they had some issues and that we want to prevent that in the future. We make use of a lot of analytics about why customers contact us and how we can improve and cut waste in delivery and where process automation will more readily take customers to the channel they want.
CP: What technologically is changing in the realm of customer experience?
NM: For us, consolidating CRM systems was an enormous change that has helped us dramatically. We consolidated many fragmented CRM systems onto one of the bigger deployments of Oracle Siebel, on top of which we have suites of analytics tools we use. In the past, you collected lots of data about customers only to have it just sit there; now, the tools today allow analytics and research people to examine churn patterns of previously churned customers and to proactively see who will churn and who is most valuable so that you can proactively work to keep them.
Also, there is a profound change in how we monitor public forums and social networks to see what people are saying about saving money and technology. For example, something like Debatescape is a research tool that manages social media interaction. It aggregates and validates data and directs it back to a smart queue where it is filtered to the relevant part of the BT organization. If a customer is venting about a genuine problem, we then address it.
Also, the Internet is fostering more transparency and accountability; organizations are the last on the chain of options to which customers go to get information. They first want to cut options and risks and then get advice before they choose an organization. So the complexity of inquiries and advice people seek is higher than ever before. So the next challenge for the CSPs is to do “networked expertise” where you engage in a “speed dating” scenario of matching the right expert to the right customer. You have to identify what experts you have in your branches, at home, contact centers or headquarters, and then how to match what they know to what customers need. We also recognize the customers are more savvy, so we provide forums that we listen into so that customer feedback drives our portfolio decisions, and it enables customers to help each other solve problems.
CP: “Customer experience” can mean so many things, so what should CSPs be focusing on?
There are four main pieces:
- First, you have multiple channels across which customers want to interact —contact center, web site, face to face. So you have to consider everything that influences the perception of brand and ensure your strategy spans all channels.
- Second, there is “physical performance” (delivering on your promises) and an emphasis on “right first time.” We are focusing on the end-to-end service delivery from contact center to engineer to make sure we get it right.
- Third, customer expectation in terms of how customers view you in a global sense (beyond just telecom). You have to compare yourself not only to telcos, but to the Amazons, the Apples, the eBays, and then benchmark what they are doing right and what you can emulate. It doesn’t matter if it’s retailers, hotels, banks--whomever customers appreciate for customer service, you should evaluate.
- Fourth, the emotional piece has to be measured, as even satisfied customers leave. People like to buy from people, so you have to optimize what people experience on a personal level--whether a B2B or B2C customer. Of course, in the B2B space, it is far more complex, as you have the CIO, CTO, CFO, telecom director, project manager and so many people involved as decision makers. In a home, you have a few decision makers so it’s easier.
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© 2013 Penton Media Inc.
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