Director of Studies, "Telecom Strategies" Business Unit, IDATE DigiWorld
Customer experience draws primarily on customers’ network usage and their perceived quality, as well as their interaction with the telco’s different services (sales, support and administrative), whatever the communication channel.
Customer Experience Management, or CEM, is the term used for the programmes implemented to improve customer experience.
A complex but essential undertaking
In what is now a saturated market, it is essential that operators pay heed to customer experience if they are to retain the loyalty of their subscribers. Yet telcos have fallen behind their counterparts in other sectors, particularly OTT players.
A sophisticated CEM strategy relies on the consolidation of all customer information, not just subscription data and historical contact with the operator, but also network usage, geolocation and even comments posted on forums. Such a complex undertaking is far from being implemented by telcos, who sometimes struggle to reconcile their mixed and mobile databases. Verizon is a typical example of a company with organisational silos, whose fixed and mobile operations are two clearly separate entities.
Customer experience also implies a change in corporate culture, with each employee is required to serve the customer. This implies a sizable managerial undertaking and the involvement of senior management is therefore essential.
Customer experience incorporates increasingly cutting-edge technologies
The digitisation of communication channels is gathering momentum, including stores (interactive kiosks, click & collect services) and call centres (agents communicating with customers via chats or messaging).
In order to minimise their costs, operators are installing increasingly intelligent automated solutions. Websites host virtual agents based on artificial intelligence, while call centres use interactive voice servers with speech recognition technology. Telcos can also draw on the technological tools developed by the Internet giants: data analytics, predictive analytics, profiling, event processing and biometric authentication, as well as artificial intelligence, chatbots, machine learning and even blockchain.
Yet the human aspect remains an essential, differentiating factor
Websites offer chat options and social networks are developing in this area. User forums provide an ideal intermediate solution, offering the human aspect but less costly.
Faced with competition from low-cost operators, the big telcos are taking their stores more upmarket with a focus on customer experience, in an effort to enhance customer loyalty and expand the range of subscriber services, particularly connected objects.
Opportunities for innovation: social media, mobile and personalised services
Social networks also represent a new means of communication between operator and subscriber. They offer a wealth of information that can be used to match the best message and solution to each individual customer.
While telcos are clearly aware that mobile is an essential link between operator and subscriber, the applications rolled out so far are seeing only limited success. Mobile represents a considerable opportunity in terms of innovation for telcos, who can combine usage and geolocation data to offer solutions that are both personalised and contextual, and even to position themselves as trusted third parties.
The key challenge of CEM is to incorporate data from customers’ various interactions with the operator and their social networks. Operators can use analytics tools to offer personalised solutions to customers, anticipating and meeting their needs as they gradually wind down the traditional communication channels (which are more costly). In particular, the fine-tuning of contextual solutions based on usage (Vodafone targeting subscribers going skiing abroad, for example) is still a relatively untapped growth outlet.
This process could also be used for other ends: optimising network deployment by closely analysing network usage or evaluating customer experience data (incorporating geolocation data in particular), which could then be sold to third parties.
Delve deeper about Telecom Customer Experience Management with the following IDATE DigiWorld market report