Customer Experience – Important? Yes. Understood? Not really

Customer Experience – Important? Yes. Understood? Not really

Dana Porter

Dana Porter, vice president for customer and market insight, Amdocs

The communications industry has acknowledged the customer experience as the last remaining competitive differentiator among service providers. But what progress have providers really made in understanding how to engineer and measure the customer experience? And do they really have the insight to deliver it?

These questions were the basis of a recent survey commissioned by Amdocs and conducted by the Yankee Group in the spring of 2008. Yankee’s researchers polled more than 150 executives from among the largest wireless, wireline, broadband cable and satellite service providers in North America, the UK, France and Germany. Respondents were director-level and above, and either influenced or made decisions regarding their company’s customer experience systems.

The evidence

The survey showed that staffers know the customer experience is important. Nearly 70% of respondents agree that the customer experience has a significant, positive impact on their companies’ revenue. But more than 40% of

survey respondents say their companies do not have a clear understanding of what the customer experience should be.

Many participants admit they still use internally focused, operational metrics such as average handling time to measure the quality of the customer experience. Although such key performance indicators (KPIs) do provide some useful metrics, they don’t actually measure how customers perceive their experience. Nearly half (47%) of study respondents say they expect their companies to adopt more customer-focused KPIs, but more than 60% could not articulate examples of what those metrics might be.

Despite the lack of clarity about their companies’ customer experience or how to appropriately measure it, more than 60% of respondents report they have various initiatives, such as implementing personalisation capabilities, under way to improve it. When asked to rank their main system obstacles to delivering an intentional customer experience, survey participants’ top three responses were: lack of an integrated view of the customer across multiple interaction channels (28%); lack of business process consistency and integration across lines of business and interaction channels (23%); and multiple siloed information repositories (16%).

However, participants said that over the next three to five years their capital investment budgets are dominated by longer term, complex IP-based digital network builds. Their next investment priorities are master data management (consolidating customer, product and network data), followed closely by unifying business and operational support systems (B/OSS). Certainly, master data management and B/ OSS unification will help address the first and third obstacles identified above. But what about business processes?

Although 69% of respondents said that business processes directly impact the customer experience, the second obstacle, business process consistency and integration, did not rank among service providers’ investment priorities. Plus, nearly one third indicated they have no dedicated business process owner across interaction channels or lines of business. Instead, business processes are managed in silos. But 75% of participants did affirm that they would look to employ outside consultants to help optimise these important processes.


Perspective, perhaps?

Let’s step back for a moment. Why are service providers’ metrics still focused on internal operations? Why are service providers investing in new networks without a clear customer experience in which to deliver them? Why are operators’ systems and business processes still siloed? Perhaps it’s that last statistic, that 75% of respondents would consider getting outside help with their business processes, that holds the key.

As a starting point, service providers must define the customer experience that will differentiate their brand. Once that has been done, they must then deploy a holistic, outside-in, approach by which operations are defined from the customer’s point of view, rather than from an inside-out systems perspective. This approach removes traditional B/OSS silos found in most service providers’ operating environments and aligns business processes and systems with well defined customer KPIs, brand values and mindset to deliver the intended customer experience.

As the Yankee-Amdocs survey demonstrates, service providers understand the value of the customer experience. But knowing how to put that knowledge into action, successfully and safely transforming the company to be truly customer focused, requires vision, often from an outside source. With help from an experienced third party, service providers can gain sufficient perspective to define a customer experience, then invest in the systems, business processes and metrics to deliver it.

Amdocs is provides customer experience systems innovation, enabling service providers to deliver an integrated, innovative and intentional customer experience at every point of service.

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