Telco CxM : Implications in the Digital Era !!


According to a recent Aspect Software study, almost 75 percent of consumers prefer to solve issues on their own—almost one out of three respondents noted they would rather talk to a toilet than a customer service representative. Mobile operators suffer from some of the worst levels of customer satisfaction in the world eventhough all the tools and platforms to offer superlative experience are available to them. What a disgrace !!!

The annual WDS Loyalty Audit has revealed that ONLY 35 percent of customers are highly satisfied with the mobile operator. More worrying for carriers is that a quarter of subscribers claim low satisfaction.The figures pose serious questions for operators, as feeling satisfied is intertwined with a customer’s intent to repurchase. A unsatisfied customer is 8 times more likely to switch operators. Despite these disappointing figures, mobile operators still appear to be doing very little to understand their relationship with consumers or customer loyalty. This in turn means their loyalty programs and customer satisfaction schemes, vital to customer retention and solid business performance, remain outdated and fail to deliver.

Customer Experience Management is certainly one of the biggest current buzz words in the mobile arena. A lot has been said and written around CxM ( sometimes called CEM ) but still there is no unique industry consensus about what CEM actually includes. From managing the brand’s perception across websites or street-shops to subscribers’ actual appreciation about the services and applications they pay for, Customer Experience Management is claimed to be a part of every business process. A common misconception in the industry is that CxM is a replacement for CRM which simply is not correct.

As the industry moves into a growing market of digital services built on infrastructures that enable fast development and deployment of new services, the service portfolio itself is not sufficient to establish a lasting differential in the market place. Such a differential is quickly eroded by competitive service providers. Having tried to differentiate through technology and ‘clever’ pricing models and found the strategy to be short lived, service providers are realising that a more solid differentiation can be gained through managing the customer experience. This does not just mean delivering service that meets the customers’ expectations but that all aspects of its business must support the concept of a superior customer experience.

Many countries have a penetration rate above 100%. In such a competitive market, churn has become the major concern of operators who have changed their priorities from customer acquisition to customer retention. Operators’ financial reports show that, for a medium sized operator the average cost of retaining an existing subscriber amounts to tens of dollars per subscriber per year.Comparing this with “Cost Of Acquisition” for new subscribers (COA), often worth several hundreds of dollars per new subscriber, operators are inclined to pamper their existing subscribers, especially those generating higher Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). In this context it is key for operators to understand user expectations and adapt mobile data plans to their needs.

A successful transformation into the CxM world can only be achieved by building on top of good CRM processes and practices. CEM takes us a step closer to achieving improved customer satisfaction. Instead of asking the question, “This is what we are doing, how well are we doing?” which is a CRM approach, CEM asks, “What is important to you, and how well are we doing?. CxM is aimed at turning customers into fans by seeing the world through their own eyes. In the May 2012 issue of Telecom Buzz, published by MobileComm, the article “Customer Experience Management: The Next ‘Buzzword’” declares the four pillars of telecom CEM …no…. not nuclear physics or Astroflight…. but simply :

• network experience (includes coverage, signal quality, speed)
• commercial experience (includes billing, payment)
• product experience (includes telecom products such as handsets, VAS)
• service experience (includes after-sales service , customer queries )

In the social networking age you would already know the crucial role of social media and mobile marketing are the new building blocks when developing your future-proof CxM strategy. Increasingly Telcos are looking to looking to the social networking sites to provide valuable feedback on what the customer is experiencing. Twitter and Facebook provide rapid indicators on when things are going wrong. Systems that automatically monitor key social networking sites must be deployed to flag to the Service Management Centre when traffic increases. Often this is the first sign that a service is failing or a new service does not work the way that it should. And you can do something about it…. check this out ::

Delivering an effective Customer Experience Management requires a coordinated program across the entire organisation and is best achieved by adopting a maturity framework similar to the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) framework. CMMI is a proven process improvement approach whose goal is to help organizations improve their performance. The TM Forum is developing a maturity model for the implementation of CEM. This CEM model, as with CMMI, is a five stage model that guides the service provider on a journey to a fully implemented and controlled CEM environment.

The measurement of Customer Experience is based on measuring the extent to which the customer’s needs are satisfied using customer/user centric measures such as: + Would advocate (e.g. churn and loyalty indicators) + Would recommend (e.g. Net Promoter Score) + Would Buy again + Product availability + Product usability.Having the right tools and OSS / BSS environments in place to support CEM is absolutely critical to achieving the end goal. As such establishing an early dialogue with tools suppliers (internal and external) has to be a priority in the early days of the program if for no other reason than the lead times for delivering and integrating the necessary solutions.

Bear in mind having CEM people without equipping them with supporting tools will lead to frustration and will feed the ‘naysayers’ with ammunition to criticize or undermine the CxM program. CEM is likely to introduce new working practices which may to some, seem unnecessary and a hindrance to rolling out new digital services quickly. Without strong governance the program will become disjointed with different parts of the organisation going their own way instead of a single ‘joined up’ approach to delivering a good customer experience.

Network management plays a major role in an improved CxM. By avoiding network congestion and poor performance, telecom operators improve the quality-of-service (QoS) level, which eventually can reduce churn to a great extent and increase customer satisfaction with an operator. However, an improved network QoS represents only one of the factors that influence the overall “customer experience” equation. Strategies for reducing churn need to take place at every step of the customer life cycle. If marketing communicates something that is not supported by product quality, network infrastructure, billing processes, or customer care/service teams, the relationship worsens until, ultimately, the customer moves away.

Recently Telefonica implemented a suite of CxM tools and platforms to improve the end-to-end customer experience across mobile data, mobile voice, IPTV, high-speed Internet, cable, satellite and voice services. The platforms and tools enable their customers to troubleshoot and manage their digital experiences through devices such as mobile phones, laptops and IP set-top boxes, via dedicated web portal and apps.Telefonica’s approach towards managing the customer experience embraces a multitude of critical success factors including customer surveys, social media activity, contact centre stats and service specific data. Recognising that the CEM view is a complex but profitable undertaking if you get it right , forward looking Telcos such as Telefonica have developed an OSS/BSS environment that enables them to display disparate customer data in one single ‘vital signs’ view.From this single view Telefonica are able to calculate various Customer Satisfaction Index values which they can then use to drive their customer centric quality improvement programs.

For the telcos to remain competitive an overarching customer-experience strategy ultimately makes more business sense.With growing pools of data (both structured and unstructured), gaining individual customer insights and coming up with products and services that suit them would require a sophisticated level of business intelligence such as CxM, which would deliver performance analytics to all management levels. Telcos that continue to ignore the dire need of having an effective CEM strategy supported by appropriate tool sets might eventually find themselves thrown out of the race…so good riddance and the Telco industry will be all the better for it !!

Sadiq Malik ( Telco Strategist )


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