Market Analysis

"Customer Experience Management placed at the center of the organization is a business generator"

Interview - Didier Lelièvre, Deputy General Manager and Networks and Services Director

Sofrecom 23012014 0134 Crop

Customer Experience Management (CEM) has become a key part of telcos' strategies. Why?

DL: In an uncertain economic context and increasingly competitive markets, customer experience excellence is a relatively inexpensive form of differentiation.

Of course it is important to roll out very high speed networks, for mobile communication in particular, to support innovative services and new usages. But the costs are far from negligible and the return on investment is inevitably medium-term.

Mobile penetration being very high in some regions, operators strive to defend their existing subscriber base rather than embarking on expensive recruitment programs. The explanation is simple: winning a new customer costs six or seven times more than holding an existing one!

Moreover, customers are increasingly connected and mobile. In their lives daily they want to be able to switch seamlessly between landlines, smartphones, tablets, TVs and so on – and have a wide choice of offers.

Today, the price or content of an offer is no longer enough to satisfy consumers fully, to win their loyalty or spur them to consume more. What makes all the difference today and in the future is the quality of the customer's experience and his global perception of his provider. Good customer experience management helps create value all along the customer path, from the line or service subscription up until its cancellation, including all customer interactions such as distribution, customer service, installation, connection, repair and billing. Every touchpoint is a fine opportunity to convince the customer that he has chosen the best operator.

Which levers can operators use to improve customer experience management?

DL: The customer experience as a key to customer satisfaction must be considered in its globality along the entire customer path.

There are many ways to improve it and all customer touchpoints, whether physical or on-line, can be exploited to increase satisfaction and differentiate positively from the competition. This effort concerns all operator activities, from in-store sales to billing, including ones such as network maintenance, information system performance and human resources. All of them can help to enrich the customer experience and contribute to its quality.

Controlling the customer experience has become a strategic priority for all operators, whether mobile or convergent. The challenge is to evolve from multichannel to interchannel customer care, being careful to ensure global consistency between the different channels proposed and allowing seamless switching from one to another: distribution networks (points of sale, online), human customer service and online self-care systems. By guaranteeing customer satisfaction, the operator meets one of the indispensable conditions for business development, for loyal, satisfied customers are also ambassadors of the brand and its offers.

The maturity of operators in this respect is very variable. For all of them a global review of their business is essential. Yet they do not all have the same level of knowledge, the same customer-centric culture, or even the resources needed to manage the customer relationship all along their value chain.

Sofrecom can efficiently assist operators to improve their CEM, drawing on its long experience with many operators, including Orange Group which has led the way in CEM development, starting its own program in 2010. We have capitalized on this experience to develop a pragmatic, global approach that brings results fast!

Tell us more about Sofrecom's CEM approach

DL: We are convinced that CEM quality and efficiency requires transversality. We can implement concrete actions plans anywhere along the operator value chain.

One key feature of our approach is that we actually measure customer satisfaction (or rather dissatisfaction) and the causes of dissatisfaction. A good CEM approach must be built on observed facts, measured and analyzed. For this purpose we employ a wide range of methodologies and measuring tools, for example the NPS (Net Promotor Score) and analysis of complaints. These help us hear the voice of the customer, and understand and analyze the causes of malfunctions in operators' networks, information systems and activities, even in their organization. We can then recommend corrective measures.

Once the customer has been heard and understood, we help the operator to be proactive, responding to customers asking for explanations and also taking care to avoid service degradation during preventive correction of potential problems before their effects are felt. Our approach enables operators to acquire the technical, business, organizational and human means needed to quickly treat potential causes of dissatisfaction and to build a durable program to steadily improve the customer experience and anchor this important concept in the enterprise culture.

How do you think CEM will evolve in the future?

DL: We are seeing a very clear acceleration in the actual perception of this issue and its impact on operators' business development.

Two years ago CEM was little more than a concept. Today, more and more Customer Experience solutions are proposed in particular by equipment makers.

All this is part of the digitization of businesses which tends to "de-intermediate" the brand from its customer.

I anticipate that this movement that places CEM at the heart of organizations will even make CEM a new Big Data application, not just for marketing reasons but more generally to enhance quality of service. The question is how to collect from all our network infrastructures, services and IT systems the data that will enable us to focus on different customer types and to analyze the causes of malfunctions?

Big Data will be increasingly used to measure customer experience quality in real time. For example, telecoms network data will be crossed with those from CRM systems and even social networks.

Placing CEM at the heart of the organization is not only a powerful means of building loyalty, it also brings clear economic advantages for operators facing competition from OTTs and needing to rapidly adapt their business model. It is an essential business generator.