& 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. 
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
More Blogs from Que Sera Sarah
WiC congratulates the winners of our inaugural Leading Lights awards: Cisco's Yvette Kanouff, Zayo Group's Sandi Mays and startup Grid4C.
Leaders from Mellanox, Arista Networks, Syniverse, ECI Telecom and Cisco round out WiC's inaugural female tech pioneers of the year.
Women from AT&T, Ciena, Ixia, Zayo Group and Fujitsu make our shortlist for working to advance the cause of women in the next-gen comms industry.
Join WiC and Flex's Caroline Dowling for a live radio show on Tuesday at 12PM ET on how technology is powering the fourth revolution and to what effect in the future.
New companies with a focus on video graphics, smart grid predictive analytics and a quadcopter camera make up WiC's finalists for Female-Led Startup to Watch.
From The Founder
The independent evaluation of Nokia's key virtual network functions (VNFs) was a defining moment for the Finnish giant.
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.
LRTV Custom TV
Energy 2020: Growing Services, Not Consumption

6|24|16   |   07:18   |   (0) comments


Management of power requirements needs to be a key consideration as cable operators deploy new services, says Dan Cooper, vice president of critical infrastructure for Charter Communications and chair of the SCTE/ISBE Standards Program's Energy Management Subcommittee. In this video, Cooper discusses the importance of cable operators and technology partners ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei & TDC First to Launch DOCSIS 3.1 Trial in Europe

6|24|16   |     |   (0) comments


To meet the rising demands for high-speed broadband and to tackle fierce competition for 1.5 million household, TDC wanted to upgrade its network to use the latest technology. Using Huawei's DOCSIS 3.1 solution, TDC is now able to offer gigabit speeds to its customers.
LRTV Documentaries
OPNFV Summit: Key Takeaways

6|22|16   |   03:28   |   (0) comments


MANO shortfalls, an increasingly bloated open source ecosystem and the cultural challenges for network operators were among the key takeaways from the OPNFV Summit in Berlin.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Bringing Ultra Broadband to the South Pacific

6|22|16   |   7:55   |   (0) comments


At Singapore's UBBS 2016 summit, Light Reading speaks to Lim Chee Siong, Huawei's CMO in the South Pacific Region.
LRTV Custom TV
Juniper's NFV Platform

6|22|16   |     |   (0) comments


A telco cloud is a key enabler for service providers to deliver virtualized services to their customers. Juniper has a differentiated approach with an open and comprehensive NFV platform to build the cloud of the future for multiple use cases.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Infinera: The Glass Ceiling's Been Broken

6|22|16   |   4:34   |   (0) comments


Shannon Williams, an engineer by trade and now the director of sales for Infinera's major accounts, draws confidence from being a female in a male-dominated industry and hopes other women will too as industry dynamics swing in our favor.
LRTV Custom TV
RAD Demonstrates SD-WAN Functionality at BCE 2016

6|22|16   |     |   (0) comments


In conjunction with Versa Networks, RAD demos a joint solution for SD-WAN implementation. The solution uses RAD's ETX-2i, a vCPE platform integrating a powerful IP and Carrier Ethernet NID/NTU with a field-pluggable x86 NFV module that runs Versa's FlexVNF for SD-WAN functionality. The demo implements SD-WAN over a simulated service provider footprint by deploying ...
LRTV Custom TV
Radware on Virtualizing Network Security

6|21|16   |     |   (0) comments


Radware's Michael O'Malley highlights the benefits for service providers of virtualizing network security.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei 2016 UBBS World Tour: Singapore

6|21|16   |   02:39   |   (0) comments


Highlights from Huawei's UBBS World Tour event in Singapore.
LRTV Custom TV
The FlowBROKER Solution

6|21|16   |     |   (0) comments


During a demo at the Big Communications Event 2016, Accedian director of product line solutions Greg Spear demonstrates how the FlowBROKER distributed packet capture solution (part of Accedian's SkyLIGHT platform) can be used to troubleshoot and resolve QoE issues.

FlowBROKER is the industry's first lossless remote packet capture solution, which uses ...

LRTV Documentaries
BCE 2016: Dell & the New World Order

6|21|16   |   22:48   |   (0) comments


Dell's Jim Ganthier on how the very essence of enterprise is being affected by digital disruption – and how the cloud can help companies find a path forward.
LRTV Documentaries
BCE 2016: The CSP of the Future

6|20|16   |     |   (0) comments


Traditional telecom operators have been adopting new ways of doing business from the IT sector and emulating web-scale companies in their technology adoption. Are these strategies succeeding? A panel of experts at BCE considered the evidence...
Upcoming Live Events
September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 6-8, 2016,
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
A new survey conducted by Heavy Reading and TM Forum shows that CSPs around the world see the move to digital operations as a necessary part of their overall virtualization strategies.
Hot Topics
FCC to Vote on 5G Spectrum on July 14
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 6/20/2016
'Brexit' Vote Hits BT, Vodafone
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/24/2016
Twitter Buys Magic Pony... Not That Kind
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 6/20/2016
AT&T Settles on LTE for Cellular IoT
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 6/22/2016
Google Fiber Buys Webpass in Wireless Play
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/23/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
At the BCE 2016 show in Austin, ECI Telecom CEO Darryl Edwards tells Light Reading founder and CEO about the Elastic Network concept and the company's NFV and cybersecurity developments.
Mark Dzuban, president and CEO of SCTE/ISBE, sits down with Steve Saunders in Light Reading's New York office to discuss the society's Energy 2020 campaign, including its mission to benefit the environment, enable economic benefits and the key challenges facing cable operators wanting to reduce energy consumption.
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Our world has evolved through innovation from the Industrial Revolution of the 1740s to the information age, and it is now entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by technology. Technology is driving a paradigm shift in the way digital solutions deliver a connected world, changing the way we live, communicate and provide solutions. It can have a powerful impact on how we tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems. In this radio show, Caroline Dowling, President of Communications Infrastructure & Enterprise Computing at Flex, will join Women in Comms Director Sarah Thomas to discuss the impact technology has on society and how it can be a game-changer across the globe; improving lives and creating a smarter world. Dowling, a Cork, Ireland, native and graduate of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program, will also discuss her experience managing an international team focused on innovation in an age of high-speed change.