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Customer Experience: The Uncomfortable Truth

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Customer Experience: The Uncomfortable Truth

Ken Jacobson - Group Sales Director, Global Media and Communications

Ken Jacobson | Group Sales Director, Global Media and Communications, Dimension Data

Communications Service Providers are in for a rough ride if they don’t wake up to the CX revolution.

Agile, high-performing and disruptive competitors are outstripping traditional Communications Service Providers (CSPs) in terms of delivering high-quality customer experiences (CX). This is the uncomfortable truth that many companies in this sector have to face.

While CSPs’ leadership have typically focused on driving cost savings and operating efficiencies and growing revenues, CX has often taken a back seat and is an area in need of urgent attention.

CSPs have been facing the challenge of sliding revenues over the past few years and they are losing market share to more agile as well as to Over the Top(OTT) service providers like WhatsApp and Netflix, due in part to poor CX standards on the part of CSPs.

While the market has been challenging for CSPs for a number of years, it’s become abundantly clear that CX will be the key differentiator in this sector going forward.

The CX definitive

In our recently released 2017 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report we found that by adopting an omnichannel CX platform

  • 79% of CSP’s showed cost savings and 84% saw a rise in revenue and profits
  • 90% of CSP’s recognise CX as a competitive differentiator
  • CX is the most important strategic performance measure
  • just 15% of CSPs rate their CX performance at 9/10 or better
  • 26% of CSPs do not have a single manager responsible for CX and for those who do, only 33% are at board or executive level

These findings should be of major concern companies in this sector. CSP’s traditionally have poor customer experience records and their (multichannel) customer service strategies have been fragmented and ineffective. I’m not even talking about omnichannel CX at this point – just traditional call centres using IVR technology, chat, community and in-store services that sit below the eight or nine multichannel capabilities adopted in most other industries. This sector is well behind the curve when it comes to omnichannel, seamless, integrated CX.

While the industry has regulatory, compliance and governance challenges that sometimes skew their attitudes, an overriding concern is that they are simply not taking CX seriously enough. The message is not sinking in and I don’t see evidence that they have the requisite commitment or are making the necessary investments. The Report found that while executive commitment towards CX had increased steadily since 2016, the number of customer complaints has not decreased and the overall quality of CX had not improved.

Consider, however, the massive investments that Tier 1 CSP’s have to make. In infrastructure, in 5G, in mobile broadband, in video downloading, and in superfast broadband to name but a few. With all of that on their plate it’s easy to see how CX might fall through the cracks. CX is neither easy nor inexpensive to get right!

That said, the Report found that many CSP’s don’t seem to think that CX is important enough to hold a C-level or board member accountable.

So, what happens next?

It’s essential for the industry to accept the importance role that CX plays and they need to make the required commitment, and do it now.

The question is – how do you develop an effective, omnichannel-based digital transformation strategy that allows you to optimise current and future customer experiences when you have all these different scenarios to consider? It’s extremely challenging for organisations to understand, to get a handle on the data, and come up with a future-proof, strategy.

Currently CSP’s are at various stages and the majority are around 12 to 18 months away from executing what I would call a cohesive CX strategy. This is where we can help by providing support and delivering insights which can make a difference – you can uncover more of them here.

The place to start?

In order to know where you need to be you first need to know where you are.

For that, CSP’s should ideally undertake a full CX assessment. This would require a full survey, detailed analysis and full report to address and encompass:

  • What kind of experience are your customers having?
  • What complaints are you receiving and why?
  • What is the average time to respond to a complaint, and to resolve it?
  • How effectively are your contact centres operating?
  • Carefully reassess the costs and technologies associated with your contact centres, both internal and outsourced.
  • What will it take to move your organisation a fully-integrated, seamless omnichannel CX strategy?

In other words, work out how your organisation’s CX really works. Use research, analysis and big data to establish who your customers are, where they are, what they’re doing, and what they want.

Shifting into the channel

Once you’ve assessed the situation – both internally and externally, you need to carry out a vulnerability analysis. Establish what your competitors are doing and once that is done you can set the standards your business needs to achieve. There is no point in doing all the work unless it puts you ahead of the game.

Every part of the assessment process must form the basis of your digital transformation strategy, focused on moving your organisation towards an optimised omnichannel CX platform.

Be prepared

It’s a big challenge for CSP’s who are under massive pressure to reinvent themselves from a customer experience perspective. They have to become very different animals over the next five years and if, for some reason, they choose not to follow an omnichannel, digital transformation strategy, they leave themselves wide-open to greater difficulties in the long term. These challenges will present themselves in the form of lower customer retention and revenue growth; the inability to monetise new business opportunities and increased competition from OTT’s and more agile, CX-centric organisations.