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Delivering a Customer Centric Experience

Given the stiff competition in the Telecom space, telecom service providers have been feeling the need to move beyond the product-price offering and enhance their customer experience to attract and retain customers. I recently attended some workshops that got me thinking further around the importance of customer centricity for our Telco clients. In this blog, I will list out the key issues and how IT plays an important role in addressing the same.

Listed below are some of the issues hampering a customer-centric approach that we identified during our workshops-

 a) Lack of complete customer understanding - Siloed IT systems, disjoint business units, disconnected customer information that cannot be seamlessly linked together are some of the reasons for missing this crucial 360 degree visibility. The Telco misses out on opportunities for Cross/Up-Sell and pro-active customer service in the absence of a 360 view. Eg: Cross-Selling a family plan that provides shared services to family members OR proactively informing customers in case of service downtime and providing alternate service options

b) Poor customer experience - Presence over limited channels, differing information at various customer touch points and difficultly faced by customers in accessing this information lead to poor customer experience. A customer who is forced to call the call center and wait in queue to get heard is not likely to be as satisfied as a customer who can browse products, place orders, raise/track issues and get troubleshooting information at the tip of their fingers using a mobile app.

c) Lack of personalization- A commoditized Product/service offering that is not tuned to the customer segment leads to a lack of perceived differentiation in the mind of the customer. Eg: Recommending a personalized data plan based on the customer's usage pattern would be far more effective than bombarding the customers with offers of every new plan launched by the company.

One of the key dimensions to achieve customer centricity is to enable IT systems that support the customer related processes. The aspects that need to be addressed are -

a) The IT applications need to be integrated and should be able to link together all dimensions of the customer information. The front-line sales and service agents need to get a consolidated view of the Customer details and their transaction information to achieve the 360 degree visibility. The transfer of customer transactions between departments needs to be seamless and automated. Eg: Customer cases that need inputs from multiple departments for resolution.

b) Customer experience has to be convenient (customer's preferred channel), consistent (across channels) and comprehensive (complete information). New channels like social media, instant chat can also be leveraged to provide customer service at a lower cost than traditional channels such as call center and retail store. The IT systems supporting the numerous channels, including the new channels need to be fully integrated in order to achieve this.

c) Timely targeting of customers with personalized offers needs can be achieved via real-time decisioning. Parameters like customer value can further be incorporated to provide additional differentiation in the treatment of the customers.

d) The systems need to be enabled to support cross-channel processes as customers use multiple channels to communicate with their service provider. Eg: An order placed online may be fulfilled in the store of customer's choice. Status of trouble tickets raised by the customer via the self-service portal or call center can be tracked via the mobile service application.

Having the right IT systems is a key factor, but not the only factor to help achieve Customer Centricity. The organization culture and business processes also have to be tuned to support this objective. But those are topics for another day. What do you think?

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