opinion


B2B is the new B2C – telecoms can learn so much from retail

Finger rating with sad neutral happy face icons by pressing red button on virtual interface. Customer satisfaction service quality online evaluation and survey. Negative feedback concept.

Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Elsa Chen, Chief Customer Officer at CityFibre, argues the telecoms sector has a lot to learn from retail when it comes to customer service.

Across the UK, network builders are racing to upgrade the nation’s outdated digital infrastructure in a long overdue bid to meet the UK Government’s ambitions for Gigabit capable network coverage across the country by 2025. For us, this ambition should be about more than just providing faster internet. It must also be about investing in the underpinning systems to ensure our networks are not only future-proof, but better by design for all users.

Let’s cut to the chase! Our industry sadly has a reputation for focusing too much on the tech and not enough on what really matters to the people and businesses we ultimately serve. Lead times for delivery are notoriously lengthy and, for too long, the bar has been set at mediocre when it comes to partner experience. As an essential utility, faults, delays and down time should not be par for the course. Likewise, we should be able to map and monitor every piece of network 24/7, given the technology to do so is there at the ready.

In a data driven world, other industries, like retail, have been able to gather crucial insights into the preferences and user functionality of their services, enabling them to personalise and improve their customer journey and experience. In telecoms today, there has never been a better opportunity to develop the purpose-built systems that manage everything that happens over a network – we should relish this unique opportunity to create a world class service experience while we build new and better.

Recognising service quality as a shared differentiator

Delivering exceptional service starts by understanding who your customers are and what they truly need from you. For example, our immediate customers include wholesale partners, carriers and ISPs, but our ultimate customers, and those that matter to our partners, are the homes and businesses that rely on our infrastructure and service delivery, day-to-day. Get service right for them and everyone – including partners – feels the benefit. To achieve this though, it’s time to ditch the outdated industry-norm where network operators leave end-customer service strategy entirely in the hands of their ISP customers.

This journey begins at the plan and build stage – working to ensure only the most accurate geospatial data feeds intelligent systems and partner interfaces. But it’s about people and integrated processes too and being far more ambitious about working through all stages and committing to carry the service baton to the finishing line together.

Embracing new people, perspectives and ways of working

To ensure we all think beyond our own sphere of experience, we’ve sought out expertise from different industries to help shape and steer service delivery. Having the right people leading this charge is vital in our industry because we must challenge every aspect of what has been accepted to date and draw on a diversity expertise if we are to successfully reinvent what good looks like in UK telecoms.

We can start by extending our customer lens to those whose daily life relies on our network; challenging established norms, exploring the art of the possible and looking at how we can work with partners to deliver a better experience and reduce their cost to serve.

Understanding what customers care about

The things that make or break good customer experience is the routine stuff that we should expect to get right – installation, managing faults etc. However, there’s nothing to stop our industry from challenging itself to match benchmarks set in other sectors and extend this experience across all partner types. Think about your best user experience from the likes of Amazon and Deliveroo. Think about the type of services and experiences you never asked for at the start but now can’t live without. That’s where we are with our ambition for all partners. It’s not the percentage we get right that motivates us, it’s the challenge of making everything work, seamlessly. Less fuss, less fixing and less cost. This is what partners and their customers want.

Partners back those who succeed because their service quality directly impacts theirs, and in turn their reputation and their customer churn levels in what is a highly competitive market. Great service drives loyalty to their brand, strips cost out of their businesses and enables best value for their customers.

True partnerships push boundaries

Co-creation of customer success is key. It may sound simple, but it is the most challenging piece to execute in the wholesale context. Two brands, two separate organisations, operating seamlessly as one to deliver a single aligned customer experience vision is not an easy task. It requires a true partnership approach between wholesaler and partner, a deep level of process and systems integration, and a great deal of trust, honest feedback and innovative thinking.

The ultimate goal of course is happy, loyal end customers who never need to contact our partners or us. Hard to imagine for our industry today, but this is already a reality for so many leading brands across other sectors – so why not ours? When home and business owners consider their connectivity services to be as dependable as their water and power supply, we’ll be halfway to unlocking the true potential that networks, which are better by design, have to transform lives for the better.

 

Formerly CEO of CityFibre’s wholesale business Entanet, Elsa led the management buyout of Entanet in 2014 with the backing of the highly experienced mid-market investor Mobeus Equity. She grew the business organically to £37m revenue in the period and firmly established Entanet as a multi-prestigious-award-winning wholesale connectivity service provider in the UK. Elsa oversaw the mergers and acquisitions transaction in 2017 which made Entanet part of CityFibre Group. Elsa is a well-respected leader in the industry; known for her passion in developing a customer-centric business culture and her people-focused approach to driving business performance.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Polls

Do you agree public funding should be used to support mobile operators to more broadly deploy Open RAN?

Loading ... Loading ...