Service providers need to invest wisely in the right kind of resources to provide a high-level of experience to the customers consistently across the various touch points. Customer experience and brand loyalty already is and going to continue as the main differentiator leading to profitability.
Rafael Domene, senior partner, Peppers & Rogers Group
Chafic Traboulsi, head of network services, Ericsson Middle East
Kaustubh Kashyap, head of MENA region, Mahindra Comviva
CommsMEA: What are the innovative ways to engage customers emotionally so as to build a strong brand loyalty?
Kaustubh Kashyap: Maya Angelou had rightly said: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” People flock to some products like Amazon, Apple, and Uber because they are better at spreading awareness of customers’ emotional stories for the service and not on product usage stats. One reason for disconnect between content and customer is that the messages have become too complex and they present too many statistics; rather, they need to have emotional connect.
Communication today must evoke feelings even more than before, and inspire people to think and feel positively about the services from the telcos.
Rafael Domene: We have worked with STC and the intelligence put into their loyalty campaigns is indeed amazing. Campaigns need to be data driven and accordingly companies need to act in an agile and proactive manner to build a strong brand.
Chafic Traboulsi: Some ideas are the use of customer feedback applications, social media feedbacks, and proper use of campaign management to keep customers interested in brands. The key here is the follow up on the feedback. The operator that does it better will be the operator that will influence the customer the most.
CommsMEA: How has the importance of customer experience evolved over time?
Domene: Companies have started paying more attention to customer experience than ever before. They have realised it’s no more an option, rather a must-focus area since it has a great impact on both the top line and bottom line revenues. Companies can really understand and measure the real impact. However, they still have a long way to go.
The explosion of big data has also made it all the more essential for companies to make sense of the same using proper skill sets and use the insights to deliver an enhanced customer experience.
Traboulsi: In the telecom and IT domains, importance of customer experience has increased many fold due to the strong influx of applications & OTT services. In the past, customers were using few services like voice, SMS and MMS. Now there are applications which define user experience rather than simple telco services.
Kashyap: As the customers’ demands and interactions evolve with time, technology and social media, the organisations have to be a step ahead to manage such engagements with them. Customer engagement models that were relevant just five years ago are not sufficient anymore; a combination of social and mobile has created a phenomenon that can only be dealt in real time. As a result, human centric designs and investments in innovative customer experience that anticipates the need of the customers are the parameters that will define success in customer experience management.
CommsMEA: How would you rank the customer experience offered by regional telcos relative to other customer friendly organisations? In spite of being a very important component of the economy, why don’t telcos manage to fare well on the experience benchmarks?
Domene: Traditionally, telcos worldwide have focused more on networks, marketing, and acquisitions; they haven’t embraced the customer-centric approach to a great deal. This is why, they are still lagging behind when it comes to providing a great experience. Customer journeys are not properly identified and studied to improve service offerings. They still use manual processes for several purposes; considering the massive volume of interactions they engage in, manual processes can’t suffice to provide the best experience. Automation needs to be brought in.
Traboulsi: Regional telcos are focused more on basic network KPIs while struggling to manage the real end customer experience. However, there is an increasing realisation in the operators for the need to align towards measuring and improving the actual end user experience.
Kashyap: The good part is that the telcos in the region have realised that they lag behind in the customer experience compared to organisations from other industries like airlines, hotels, eCommerce, retailers, BPOs, etc.
There could be many reasons for poor customer experience – disparate network elements, non-uniform network quality, numerous service offerings, non-aligned touchpoints for the subscribers, etc. Besides, the problem gets accentuated due to different types of devices that the users own and the complexity of the business partner networks that run their applications on a telco’s network.
However, on the brighter side and perhaps ironically, customers do find telcos trustworthy when it comes to collecting and handling personal data, which is a key element, considering that telcos are important component of the economy! Using this element as the basic premise, telcos are improving the experience of their customers.