By Paul Kilby, Training Consultant at the Informa Telecoms Academy

2012 really will be the year when maturing markets, data and the realities of over-the-top players impact on how operators’ strategies for the future are shaped.

New business models, built around content ecosystems and broadband services, will finally emerge and transform telcos forever. Only the most agile will fully benefit from the many opportunities for growth that are available.

To successfully transform the business, we need to harness the strengths of the organisation that, in many cases, lay right under our noses – not least of which is the massive pool of skills and knowledge within our employees.

We should not forget that it is the telcos that control the data “pipes” underpinning the Internet, control the customer billing relationship, provide unmatched capabilities in customer support, finance the market with hundreds of billions invested in device subsidies and access to vast distribution networks. These are all critical strengths of the modern telco organisation.

The importance of customer experience management to communications service providers (CSPs) was underlined in Informa Telecoms & Media’s survey, with 39.2 percent of CSPs identifying CEM as the single most important area of focus for 2012. This exceeded, by some margin, the importance of network deployments and developments, such as LTE and fibre rollouts.

Although operators are rightly focusing on growing average customer spend, winning the loyalty of customers and extending their stay on the network arguably play a stronger role in maximizing customer profitability.

But delighting the customer in a hyper competitive marketplace is notoriously difficult and requires building a strategy that goes way beyond today’s unsophisticated and embryonic loyalty and CRM programmes.

A massive, company-wide effort is needed to address churn for the long term. An outstanding customer experience should be embedded in all aspects of operator strategy and at all touch-points that the customers have with the operator. This means operators need to think beyond simple sales or complaints touchpoints.

How ready are your people to cope in this brave new world?

One of the biggest challenges is how to reduce customer churn. One thing is certain, the required changes will not happen without some concerted effort.

Clearly, training has a role here; upgrading knowledge, attitudes and skills. More than that, it requires managers and executive to work “on” the business, not just “in” the business. Taking a step back and looking with fresh eyes at the way it is organised, the way it operates and how customers perceive us is no longer a luxury.

Improving the performance of businesses overall requires a coordinated approach. The functional silos that have served telcos so well in the past are perhaps beyond their useful sell by date. A more cross functional view would assist.

So how can we tell if this more holistic view is working? How can we be sure that we are in fact building value? We can fall back on our tried and tested KPIs and bottom line measurements. I’d suggest that in addition to this we adopt a policy of seeking out customers’ views, even if the answers are uncomfortable.

 

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