May 19, 2016

Would you follow your Communication Service Provider into new business areas?

Claes Sonde

Business Consultant, Tieto

I’m sure you have heard this more times than you can cope with by now. Customer satisfaction among Communication Service Providers (CSPs) is too low and they fail to build a strong and lasting relationship with their customers. 

Even though I feel that the statement is a bit too harsh and that CSPs in fact have improved a lot over the last years, I still find it quite difficult to argue against. A glance at any open Customer Satisfaction or Net Promoter Score benchmark platform tells us that the telecom industry is lagging behind other industries. Even banks, which are struggling severely with brand trust issues, score significantly higher than CSPs.

So why do I bring this up now? After all, this issue has been on the agenda for quite some time. Well, I would say that it is getting crucial to fix this soon, very soon. Tieto has just recently completed a study on trends in the telecom industry and, more interestingly, what the industry might look like in 5–7 years. Disruption seems to be just around the corner, and we are expecting the rapid development of digitalization as well as new products, services, and business models to run like a wave through CSPs as we know them today. We also expect CSPs to move their business into new ecosystems like eHealth, public transport, TV & media and financial services. It is indeed a very interesting transformation, but this leads us to an important question: would customers trust CSPs enough to follow them into new businesses areas?

Something really needs to happen in the industry before that question can be put aside from the strategic agenda. As in so many other cases, I believe “simplicity” is the key, and this is a mindset that needs to be applied throughout the entire customer journey. However, simple doesn’t always mean easy. Sometimes, or even most times, simplicity is actually hard to accomplish. But some companies have mastered this objective and, in doing so, they have created customer experiences that are easier, frictionless and more desirable. I believe that this is a competitive advantage that crosses industry borders. If you, as a customer, feel that being a customer to your CSP has been simple, enjoyable and rewarding you are likely to believe that this will follow with the transition into new ecosystems.

Tieto has worked with some of the largest CSPs in the Nordics for more than twenty years, and after making substantial investments in our customer experience over the last several years, we feel that we are in a better position than most to take on this challenge. However, while our experience in the telecom industry is indeed helpful, we believe that the inspiration for successful management of customer experiences is likely to come from other industries. We are working closely with retailers, for example, an industry completely disrupted by a bombardment of new customer experiences: some good, some amazing and some that have been not so amazing. Lessons have been learned though, and other organizations in other industries should benefit from this. Out of our telecom expertise, cross-industry collaboration and customer experience capability investments has grown a concept that we call One Touch Customer Experience.

Our One Touch Customer Experience is a holistic approach to helping CSPs strengthen their customer relationships and prepare their organizations for a customer-centric way of working within their new business models. The One Touch approach refers to a target state vision in which simplicity is reflected throughout the customer journey and as a mindset internally. It consists of three key building blocks:

  • One Touch Sales & Marketing
    By relentlessly focusing on the simplification of the ways CSPs acquire, sell to, and communicate with customers, companies can make it easier (and often less expensive) for customers to get what they want, generating meaningful value for them—and for the CSP. Delivering simplicity to the customer, however, requires quite an advanced setup and that’s precisely what One Touch Sales & Marketing is. It covers everything from back-end solutions to the design of customer interfaces and omnichannel environments.
  • One Touch Customer Service
    An omnichannel approach is commonly mistaken for a sales concept, but that’s only part of the story. It should be applied to customer service as well, meaning that a customer should be able to get the same service experience regardless of their channel preference. This requires a unified customer view throughout the organization, but also more supporting tools for those employees that are interacting with the customer. One Touch Customer Service is about using analytics and customer service platforms to enable personalized service through all channels.
  • One Touch Customer Operations
    Attractive customer-facing layers are not enough. They need to be supported by all processes that directly or indirectly affect the customer experience, enabling organizations to be more responsive to changes in customer demands. Many companies (across industries) are very quick to implement digital customer experience solutions but forget (or neglect) to deal with the root of many customer experience flaws. One Touch Customer Operations is a bundle of solutions that helps CSPs to be more agile, more responsive and maybe most importantly, better able to quickly learn and adapt to changes in customer needs.  

The complexity of many businesses causes them to struggle to do things that, from the perspective of the customer, should be simple. That’s exactly what we are addressing! The tools to actually manage this goal are here today, they have been tested and it is all very doable. Now is the time.


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