The constant drumbeat about digital transformation is impossible to tune out, and communications service providers are listening and taking action to completely change their entire business operations and culture.
This is pretty radical, considering they still have billion-dollar businesses to run and millions of customers to serve, while also transforming their entire business operations. How are service providers going about this?
Focusing on the customer is relentless in highly successful companies in any industry, but for telcos that have lost track of this, "customer first" has become a guiding light in investment decisions and operational change.
For many service providers, this requires a complete rethink on how services are created and launched, including setting common goals across departments, even redesigning processes to get an end-to-end view of the customer. Top management support is critical, as well as hiring new talent in customer base management and data analytics, and accessing consulting support from trusted vendors, integrators and consulting houses.
Service providers are keen to improve on several fronts, including updating business processes, improving the customer experience, improving technical resources and updating IT and BSS technologies. Bringing together the different silos and IT systems to get a unified view of customers is key. Customers will simply leave and go to another provider if they "feel the experience" is not good. Managing the customer base across marketing, billing, customer care, service provisioning, service quality is now critical.
- Experience must be seamless across call centers, stores, online, mobile, and social and other emerging channels
- Operations must be seamless in terms of selling to, servicing and billing customers by integrating business processes, organization structures and shared incentives across channels
- Platforms must be seamless across mobile, social, cloud, big data and the Internet of Things
These initiatives can have a real impact, where even a 1-2% reduction in churn can have an impact on the bottom line. Likewise, access to real-time insight into network and service performance can anticipate problems before customers need to contact support or reduce the average call length to customer support, which again saves costs. Using digital channels to support customers (mobile and online) can also save money as well as drive up satisfaction.
And that's where culture and organization transformation comes in. The silos in marketing, customer care and network operations are real and problematic to becoming a customer-centric business. Telcos have tried to overcome this with new bold vision statements, Net Promoter Score tracking, customer experience indices, even setting up new digital divisions and centers of excellence to drive innovation and service transformation.
Customer-centric operations requires employee buy-in, and the right open structure, operations and processes. It's a leadership vision, it's a culture, it's a journey -- but for service providers that want to stay relevant, it's not a choice.
This blog is sponsored by Huawei.
— Sandra O'Boyle, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading