& 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.
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
NEXT COURSE
Wednesday, July 27, 1:00PM EDT
The Changing Face of the Data Center World
Rodney M. Elder, Senior Solutions Architect, Equinix
UPCOMING COURSE SCHEDULE
Wednesday, August 3, 1:00PM EDT
The Central Office Re-Architected as a Data Center
Guru Parulkar, Executive Director, Open Networking Research Center, Open Networking Lab
Wednesday, August 10, 1:00PM EDT
Telcos & Open Source 101
Phil Robb, Senior Technical Director, OpenDaylight
Friday, August 12, 1:00PM EDT
The Role of Open Source in NFV
Jim Fagan, Director, Cloud Practice, Telstra
in association with:
From The Founder
In the first episode of a four-part series, Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders and Calix President and CEO Carl Russo drive around town discussing the disruptive mega-changes in the communications industry and where hope lies for service providers to meet the escalating demands of the cloud.
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.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
VeEX Test & Measurement Solutions

7|25|16   |   08:57   |   (0) comments


Cyrille Morelle, president and CEO of VeEX Inc., talks test and measurement with Light Reading's Steve Saunders at BCE 2016. This includes innovative products such as VeSion Cloud-Based platform for network monitoring; MTTplus Modular Test platform for Access, Business, Carrier Ethernet, Transport and Core services; and OPX-BOX+ for Fiber Optics.
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX: Live From BCE 2016

7|25|16   |   03:20   |   (0) comments


VeEX's Senior Director of Business Development, Perry Romano, explains how VeEX provides tools to help install, maintain, monitor and manage network infrastructure efficiently and effectively. The portfolio of products on display include the RXT-6000, MTTplus and TX300s.
LRTV Custom TV
Real-Time Telemetry & Analytics for Intelligent SDN Orchestration

7|25|16   |   03:09   |   (0) comments


Packet Design CEO Scott Sherwood discusses how real-time network telemetry and analytics are enabling a new breed of SDN orchestration applications.
From the Founder
The Russo Report: Driving Disruption

7|25|16   |   07:44   |   (0) comments


In the first episode of a four-part series, Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders and Calix President and CEO Carl Russo drive around town discussing the disruptive mega-changes in the communications industry and where hope lies for service providers to meet the escalating demands of the cloud.
LRTV Custom TV
NetScout: Maximizing Enterprise Cloud for Digital Transformation

7|20|16   |   04:53   |   (0) comments


Light Reading Editor Mitch Wagner talks to NetScout CMO Jim McNiel about maximizing the benefits of enterprise cloud and digital transformation while minimizing potential pitfalls with a proper monitoring and instrumentation strategy.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Ciena's VP Offers a Career Crash Course

7|20|16   |   4:14   |   (0) comments


How did Ciena's Vice President of Sales, Angela Finn, carve out her career path? Simple, she tells WiC. She stayed true to her company, customers and principles. She shares her advice for women on how to be authentic and credible, as well as for companies that want to make a real change to their culture and practices.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV in 2016: Part 2 – Climbing the Virtualization Maturity Curve

7|19|16   |   06:56   |   (0) comments


Many of the initial use case implementations are single-vendor and self-contained. The industry is still climbing the virtualization maturity curve, needing further clarity and stability in the NFV infrastructure (NFVi) and greater availability and choice of virtualized network functions (VNFs). Interoperability between NFVis and VNFs from different vendors ...
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Versa Networks' Kumar Mehta on SD-WAN Managed Services

7|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


In Silicon Valley, Steve Saunders sits down with Versa's Kumar Mehta for an interview focused on why service providers are building SD-WAN managed services, and how Versa's telco customers are innovating.
LRTV Custom TV
Juniper Networks & The Evolution of NFV

7|19|16   |   06:01   |   (0) comments


Senior Juniper Networks executives talk to Light Reading Founder & CEO Steve Saunders about NFV developments and the recent independent evaluation by test lab EANTC of Juniper's Cloud CPE solution.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink Goes Beyond Managed WiFi

7|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


CenturyLink's managed WiFi allows enterprises, such as retailers and resorts, to track guest WiFi usage in order to help them better communicate with customers.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T Launches Network Functions on Demand

7|17|16   |   05:26   |   (0) comments


Roman Pacewicz, Senior Vice President, Offer Management & Service Integration, AT&T Business Solutions, discusses the operator's launch of its Network Functions on Demand service.
LRTV Interviews
Enterprise Pitch for Ciscosson

7|14|16   |   04:43   |   (0) comments


After seven months of near silence, Cisco and Ericsson executives publicly discussed details on their extensive partnership. Among the tidbits shared by Martin Zander, VP, group strategy programs, Ericsson, and Doug Webster, VP service provider marketing, Cisco: The partnership was initially launched to serve the service provider market, but is already gaining ...
Upcoming Live Events
September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
September 27, 2016, Philadelphia, PA
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
Five of the Top 10 most targeted countries in Check Point Software Technologies' global Malware & Threat Index for Q1 2016 are in Africa.
Hot Topics
Ericsson 'Doubles' Savings Goal as Sales Slump
Iain Morris, News Editor, 7/19/2016
Kevin Lo's Move to Facebook: Sign of Things to Come?
Patrick Donegan, Chief Analyst, Heavy Reading, 7/20/2016
Verizon's Next With VNFs
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 7/21/2016
Facebook Gets Its Drone On
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 7/22/2016
Ericsson Ejects CEO Vestberg
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 7/25/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
There's no question that, come 2020, 5G technology will turn the world's conception of what mobile networking is on its head. Within the world of 5G development, Dr. ...
I've enjoyed interviewing many interesting people since I rejoined Light Reading, but William A. "Bill" Owens certainly takes the biscuit, as we say where I come from.
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.