Customer lifecycle management – 5 key considerations for telco CIOs

It’s a no brainer that customer experience is paramount for any industry; especially in the telecom space with so many service providers competing for a share in the customer’s wallet. But the recent Forester research that focused on 2014 CXi Scores for 28 UK Brands concluded that telco service providers fall behind the brand leaders in terms of positive customer experience.

This article focuses on how CXOs should be concentrating on each step in customer life cycle to ensure optimum customer experience so as to reduce churn and improve revenue. It’s about how to get the basic things right consistently to reduce the customer effort and keep the customer happy.

A typical customer life cycle in Telco space has the following four phases:

  1. Pre-sales: Set of activities normally carried out before a customer is acquired
  2. Sales and provisioning: Set of activities that include customer lead to order process
  3. Service assurance: Activities to support customer after order submission until service activation
  4. In-life management: Activities that support customer once the service is active

There are a few elements that are important for good customer experience through all these phases:

  • Customer accessibility: Customer should be able to reach the organisation and get their queries resolved quickly and easily through multiple modes of contact: e-mail/ live chat/ call/ social media etc. Mobility solutions are of great importance as the current generation of millennial customers prefer connecting through their mobile devices.
  • Right First Time (RFT): Customer queries related to sales, fault, service, billing etc. should be resolved/answered right first time. Need for repeat calls lead to dissatisfaction. Track the RFT metric closely for every new proposition/product the company launched. If RFT target is not achieved, either mitigate by resolving issues (e.g.: better agent training, helping agents with more info on CRM systems to help address customer query etc.) or withdraw the proposition in extreme situations (Did that on one project when the proposition led to 60% call-in on the first bill received by customer. The organisation had to re-design the bill based on customer feedback and then re-launch the project).
  • Keep Customer Informed (KCI): Always keep customer informed through e-mails/SMSs/letter (their preferred mode of contact) on the progress of the fault/order/ change in billing etc., that the client had bought to notice. Proactively reaching out to them in case of issues before the customer calls in will earn the company brownie points.
    My firm recommendation is that ‘customer contact’ team should be a dedicated unit within customer experience team that would work with propositions/product team & marketing team to build the right message content for every medium of contact with customer, reviewing the same with legal & regulatory team for terms and conditions.
  • Cycle time: More often than not the customers who waited long hours and had their call disconnected without getting their issue resolved hang up and go on to Facebook or Twitter and complain about the service. Set customer expectations on the wait time, put call handling time as one of the KPIs for the company’s agent community, monitor the call wait time regularly and increase the resources if the call volumes are increasing consistently (get product managers attention to the call handling time (CHT) impact if investigation reveals that a particular product or solution is impacting CHT). Chat option gives more flexibility as the agent can handle up to 3 customers at a time and customers too show more patience with this mode of contact.
  • Simplicity: Higher the customer effort during a customer touch point, lower the chance that he/she will promote the brand. Hence, the mantra is to make it as easy as possible for customer to reach out and serviced. The critical point is to keep usability/simplicity of customer experience at the centre of all IT solutions and processes. E.g. Minimize the number of customer clicks to reach important information/products on your company website.

It’s important to understand that rarely does a customer rave about you even if you do many things right or surpass his expectations. But they would want to punish the moment the company is found lacking in its service. Also, CXOs need to understand that customer experience is not a short term strategy to increase stock prices in the short run, but a long term strategy to increase customer loyalty and increase market value. Finally, I want to leave with the idea that: It’s important to do the basic things right ‘consistently’ throughout the customer life cycle before trying to surpass customers’ expectations through fancy and costly promises or actions!!!

Please do shares your views on the most important factors that improve customer experience based on your experience in the past! In my next blog, I would like to highlight the customer experience touch points that are specific to each of the phases in customer life cycle.