Author: Derek Kerton, Managing Partner of the Kerton Group and Chairman of the Telecom Council

DSC_0372Customer Experience (CX) is the forward-facing aspects of our entire industry and value chain. It represents the culmination of the contributions, the integration, the products, the infrastructure of ALL the industry, and it’s what our final customers pay us to deliver. In short – pretty important stuff. And when I framed the issue at the start of our CX meeting, I pointed out that it doesn’t matter if we truly love the customer and just inherently seek to delight them, or whether were merely profit driven, the end results will still need to be aligned – a great CX is measured in loyalty, longevity, higher ARPU, higher new product adoption, and better word of mouth. Great CX is good for shareholder value.

John Feland, CEO at Argus Insights, started the agenda by rattling a few cages. John let us in Silicon Valley or carrier head offices understand that our customers do not see things as we do. Our “small hurdles” are full-stop barriers to our customers. We’re not really hitting home runs, because the customers are not driving the value chain, but instead it’s been managed from the middle. John showed how Argus can predict with high reliability which products are winners, not by intuition or a focus group, but rather by customer reaction in the real market. Argus uses social metrics to capture that market response. John had some great examples of products that are winners, losers, and some winners that could have been even better.


In his Keynote address, Oracle’s Joe Jorczak explained that we need to expand on the ways we measure CX, using more and more varied metrics to get a more complete picture of the CX. He said, historically, business measures CX as they relate to specific business functions inside the business, NOT as the customer sees them. Jorczak proposed a CXi, as sort of Customer eXperience Index, which aggregates other weighted data, provides a single measure, which can be tracked over time.


Interestingly, the panel offered an opposing view to Joe…well actually more of a cap on the goal of “measuring everything”. Soma Velayutham of Nokia explained that having TOO MUCH DATA measuring CX is as big a problem as having too little. He had seen a project that measured over 300 factors of CX that were presented to Business Analysts, and thus produced a data storm that overwhelmed the managers trying to assimilate the data. The end result was the managers identified some 70 factors that they could cognitively handle, and used the data for those for actionable business intelligence. Soma explained that the 300+ factor collection slowed the deployment of the project by almost a year, increased costs, and delivered negative value.


For a time, our panel was singularly focused on CX tools and solutions as an excellent way to up-sell the subscriber to new and additional services. This was led by Greg Raleigh, of ItsOn, obviously enough, since that is one of the core value propositions for ItsOn’s solutions. The panel explained how the right offer, at the right time, can have an near complete level of conversions to sales. The trick is to customize down to the user, not the demographic, and to make it context aware, and time-sensitive. But caution must be taken not to over-promote and to numb or alienate the user. After focusing on the positive up-sells, I asked the panel about using CX tools to minimize negative experiences. Panelists Navaid Khan of Hitachi Data Systems, and Ashish Patel of Orange responded that eliminating negative CX is as important or more than selling new services, because your best customer is your existing customer. Especially in the era of cellular market saturation, it’s far cheaper to retain a customer than to find a new one. Carriers use tools that monitor the UX, dropped calls, weak signal, OS crashes, etc, and can proactively provide support to those customers.


With so many examples of “context aware” offers, and UX aware proactive support, I asked the panels how important “real time” is for business analytics in CX. Is all the value derived from modern real-time analytics, or can we still rely a fair bit on batch-run overnight analytics? The panel had the interesting response that both were important, and completely “blendable”. That is, the carrier marketing staff can use nightly or monthly data runs and analysis to design and plan CX offers and responses that can then be deployed on real-time systems. “It’s not actually done instantly…but it’s real-time to the user.” said ItsOn’s Raleigh.


Thanks again to all that came, our speakers, and our rapid-fire presenters!

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