& cplSiteName &

Have You Made Your Customers Smile Today?

Sarah Thomas
6/3/2014
50%
50%

NICE, France -- TM Forum Live! -- When Tuesday's keynote panel with two industry chairmen kicked off discussing "smile moments," I wasn't optimistic. Turned out I needn't have worried: The next 30 minutes had a lot of useful tips on how to be a customer-centric company.

For me, it also brought to mind T-Mobile US Inc. , even though the carrier was never mentioned.

David Moffatt, former CEO of Lebara Group and current board member on Asurion Limited's Asia-Pacific advisory board, and Michael Matthews, former Amdocs Ltd. (NYSE: DOX) CMO and chairman of the board at Archer Mobile, took the stage to talk about what being a company that truly cares about its customers looks like. It seems obvious, but it's not something many telcos have mastered.

Both agreed that it had to start with the leadership and some radically new thinking. Some of the key takeaways included:

  • Allow employees to be individuals and have "spontaneous engagement" with customers. "If you let too much process and system get in the way, then people aren't equipped to deal with people with humanity," Matthews said.
  • Build a culture of transparency and authenticity in leadership, which requires a cultural shift.
  • The CEO needs to spearhead this cultural change by meeting with his or her employees face-to-face (even if there are thousands of them) and speaking with honesty and passion about what the company is doing.
  • Analytics is important, but bear in mind that Steve Jobs never used it. "At best, it allows you to eliminate the things you should perhaps not be concentrating on," Matthews said. And, Moffatt added, data needs to be harnessed in a systematic way. "In most organizations, particularly telco, you need to think about the customer in isolation from all the other noise and systematize it," he said.
  • As the CEO, get your board aligned with your vision and act as a mediator to break down silos, which exist because of the systems and structures for allocating budgets and how people are rewarded, not because of any ill-will between groups.

A lot of this has been said before, of course, but it rings true -- or at least truer than hearing telcos themselves talk about how innovation-driven and customer centric they are. The men never named names, but it is easy to see why T-Mobile came to mind. The self-proclaimed "uncarrier" has spent the last year upending the traditional modus operandi in the telecom industry. It's also done a good job of convincing consumers it truly cares about the customer, even if some of its pricing changes have been policy shifts than deep pricing cuts. (See T-Mobile Petitions Operators to Kill Overages, Look Inside T-Mobile's 'Uncarrier' Transformation, and T-Mobile Shuns Overage Charges.)

I did think it was interesting when Moffatt pointed out that, "it's not about evangelizing or being the hero CEO." Legere, of course, relishes that role. I occasionally doubt the authenticity in his curse-laden keynotes, but you can't deny his attitude and changes are working. His competitors are noticing and customers are flocking to the Magenta brand. (See T-Mobile Sacrifices Costs for Customers and Getting Your Magenta Kicks.)

At any rate, it's the closest example we have within the telco industry of the principles Moffatt and Matthews were extolling, and I think the rest of the industry is wise to take notice and heed the boardmen's advice to change their mindset and their companies.

"We still have a very defensive mindset, added to by regulators who are adding taxes," Moffatt said, adding, however, that blaming regulation is an excuse. "It's about culture. You have to move from being defensive to being offensive and engaging and have 'a big why.' That will drive your innovation."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(6)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Ariella
50%
50%
Ariella,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/9/2014 | 9:28:03 AM
Re: smile
@Sarah I agree that employees, in general, should be empowered. But I believe that too many mangers lack faith in their people. I did add the qualifier b/c I've had some bad experiences with employees who should have no power at all. The reason I refuse to ever use T-Mobile is b/c one customer service rep took it upon herself to cancel my service when I didn't order it b/c she thought it was wrong for me to take on a new contract to take advantage of a refund offer. It was all perfectly legal, but she had other ideas and so cut off my phone just when I was going on a trip. I was far from happy, and T-Mobile didn't offer anything to make it up to me. 
smkinoshita
50%
50%
smkinoshita,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/3/2014 | 1:40:02 PM
Re: smile
@Ariella:  Garbage in, garbage out.  We educate people like we program computers.  If we built buildings that way, the first woodpecker would destroy civilization.
Ariella
50%
50%
Ariella,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/3/2014 | 1:18:59 PM
Re: smile
"We don't teach people to really think, we teach them to automatically respond to situations a specific way." @smkinoshita you're absolutely right about that. I just scored a writing test given to 8th graders in part of the country. Students could get top marks for writing that showed poor grammar and vocabulary so long as they hit on the definitions for characters that the test wanted. Students who brought in quotes and wrote well but didn't hit that definition would have gotten no credit at all. It really is all about filling in the boxes the way the central authority determined they should be filled. 
smkinoshita
50%
50%
smkinoshita,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/3/2014 | 1:06:07 PM
Re: smile
@Ariella:  You're not kidding about that.  I'm not so sure it's just the company training though.  I encounter too many kids who seem to be incapable of analyzing and then reacting proactively to a situation.

The most recent example is when I adopted a cat.  I was the last one there, and brought my own carrier.  I left it in front of the cage of the cat I wanted to adopt.  The kid who brought the cat out ignored the carrier and brought the cat out in a cardboard carrier.  

He gave me the most disconnected expression when I asked "Didn't you see the carrier?".  He was not developmentally challenged, but had that robot-like inability to assess a change in his environment.

I blame our education system -- not the teachers, but how we teach kids.  We don't teach people to really think, we teach them to automatically respond to situations a specific way.

This sort of thing seems to also be a matter of experience, but I was mentored as a young man and taught to act proactively, and it's made a difference in my life.
Ariella
100%
0%
Ariella,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/3/2014 | 12:09:04 PM
smile
<Allow employees to be individuals and have "spontaneous engagement" >

Radical idea, at least according to those who train call center personnel. They read off the script and sound like they are doing so. Come to think of it, some cashiers do that, as well. Companies believe that by canning what employees should say, they'll have better control. While that is true, it does detract from the human element of the engagement. 
More Blogs from Que Sera Sarah
Consulting firm will build 'inclusion councils' with white men in the mix instead of employee resource groups for women and minorities alone.
How many more women have to come forward and public apologies issued before we can just agree that now is the time to stop being creepy and start being decent human beings?
Over-the-top content company cuts its famous 120-slide deck down to 10 pages to communicate its values and culture to those both inside and outside of its business.
The ride-hailing company said it has let 20 employees go over an investigation into sexual harassment claims and is still investigating almost 100 others.
Being purposeful and choosing wisely, leveraging mentors, accepting feedback and sticking to her north star helped get Cisco GM Liz Centoni to where she is today.
From The Founder
Kicking off BCE 2017, Light Reading founder Steve Saunders lays blame for NFV's slow ramp-up and urges telecom to return to old-fashioned standards building and interoperability.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Cisco: Mentoring Critical to Attract & Retain Women

7|19|17   |   6:40   |   (1) comment


Liz Centoni, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Computing System Product Group, shares why mentoring in all its forms is important for women and what Cisco is doing that's made a difference for women in tech.
LRTV Custom TV
Gigabit LTE With Snapdragon 835

7|12|17   |     |   (1) comment


At an event in Wembley stadium, EE used its live network to demonstrate gigabit LTE using a Sony Xperia XZ Premium smartphone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip.
LRTV Custom TV
Implementing Machine Intelligence With Guavus

7|12|17   |     |   (0) comments


Guavus unites big data and machine intelligence, enabling many of the the largest service providers in the world to save money and drive measureable revenue. Learn how applying Machine Intelligence substantially reduces operational costs and in many cases can eliminate subscriber impact, meaning a better subscriber experience and higher NPS.
LRTV Custom TV
Unlocking Customer Experience Insights With Machine Intelligence

7|12|17   |     |   (0) comments


When used to analyze operational data and to drive operational decisions, machine intelligence reduces the number of tasks which require human intervention. Guavus invested in Machine Intelligence early. Learn about the difference between Machine Learning and Machine Intelligence.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Verizon VP Talks Network, Career Planning

7|12|17   |   4:49   |   (0) comments


Heidi Hemmer, vice president of Technology, Strategy & Planning at Verizon, shares how bold bets and the future of tech define her career.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Masergy's NFV Journey

7|11|17   |     |   (0) comments


Ray Watson, vice president of global technology at Masergy, discusses the advantages and challenges in entering the still-maturing NFV market for the past three years.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Mavenir on RCS Cloud Platform & Multi-ID

7|10|17   |     |   (0) comments


Guillaume Le Mener, head of marketing and corporate development at Mavenir, discussed RCS and the recent launch of Multi-ID, which supports T-Mobile's DIGITS, the revolutionary new technology that breaks down the limitation of one number per phone and one phone per number.
LRTV Custom TV
ADTRAN Executive Outlines Trends in Next-Generation 10-Gigabit Cable Networks

7|10|17   |     |   (0) comments


Hossam Salib, VP of Cable and Wireless Strategy at ADTRAN, outlines key trends as MSOs begin to deploy next-generation Gigabit and 10-Gigabit cable networks. In the interview, Hossam outlines the advantages of a Fiber Deep architecture, FTTH options including EPON and RFoG, and the importance of SDN and NFV in building next-generation high-bandwidth cable networks.
LRTV Interviews
Global Capacity: Bandwidth Demand Driving Ethernet Growth

7|6|17   |   6:37   |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's Big Communications Event in Austin, Texas, Global Capacity's VP of Marketing Mary Stanhope talks about how the demand for bandwidth is changing the way service providers deliver broadband services.
LRTV Interviews
Colt's Services Chief on Digital Delivery

7|5|17   |   16:12   |   (0) comments


Rogier Bronsgeest, the chief customer experience officer (chief CEO!) at Colt, discusses the way in which the service provider interacts with its customers these days and his aggressive net promoter score (NPS) targets.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
BT VP: Women Should Fill Security Talent Gap

7|5|17   |   6:00   |   (2) comments


By 2020 there will be six security jobs for every qualified worker, and Kate Kuehn, vice president of Security for BT in the Americas, says BT wants to encourage women to fill the shortage in jobs.
LRTV Interviews
Colt Sales Exec on Services Trends

7|4|17   |   12:59   |   (0) comments


Colt's sales director for enterprise, James Kershaw, sheds some light on the services currently in demand and how network upgrades are influencing customer demand.
Upcoming Live Events
September 28, 2017, Denver, CO
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Royal Garden Hotel
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, UK
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Mobile to Power Online Video Consumption – Zenith
Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation, 7/19/2017
Can Mushroom Sprout in Crowded SD-WAN Field?
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 7/18/2017
AI Will Be Ubiquitous in 2020 but Overhyped in 2017 – Gartner
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 7/18/2017
Facing the Facebook Video Threat
Gary Miles, Chief Marketing Officer, Amdocs, 7/17/2017
Brocade, Broadcom Merger in Doubt
Iain Morris, News Editor, 7/19/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
One of the nice bits of my job (other than the teeny tiny salary, obviously) is that I get to pick and choose who I interview for this slot on the Light Reading home ...
Animals with Phones
Fuzzy Quick Fix Click Here
If you can't access it, is it really broken?
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.