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Overcoming the top five challenges to ensuring customer happiness

Malla Poikela, Head of Marketing, Digital Intelligence at Nokia
Malla Poikela, Head of Marketing, Digital Intelligence at Nokia

Malla Poikela, Head of Marketing, Digital Intelligence at Nokia

“Keep the customer satisfied.” It’s the mantra at the heart of business since business began. It’s a simple statement for a task that has become extremely complex in today’s digital age.

And like in other industries, this is a major challenge in the world of telecommunications, particularly now in the era of segment-of-one customers who expect personalized engagement right here, right now and on their own terms.

For communications service providers (CSPs), achieving total and continuous customer satisfaction can seem nearly impossible, but it’s critically important as they strive to retain their high-value customers and quickly take advantage of new revenue opportunities. It is also a prerequisite for communication service providers that are transforming themselves into digital service providers.

  A well-recognized measure of customer satisfaction is Net Promoter Score (NPS), a survey that depicts how likely a customer says they are to recommend a company, product or service​  

There are five primary roadblocks to ensuring customer satisfaction:

1. Identifying who’s happy and who’s not– right now

Measuring the satisfaction of customers is vital for future business. Without this knowledge it is impossible for CSPs to operate successfully and effectively. But who are the happy customers at any given moment in time? Who are the detractors and who is neutral? And how do CSPs address issues quickly before their customers become dissatisfied and go elsewhere?

2. Putting customer satisfaction at the center of the business

Today, a company’s brand is defined by the quality of the experience it offers, so it is increasingly important that CSPs put the customer experience at the heart of their strategies. Being 100 percent customer experience focused is essential.

3. Following every twist of the customer journey

Whatever activity customers are currently engaged in, the CSP needs to be there, meeting customers’ needs whenever and wherever required –and even predicting future needs.

4. Implementing a real-time, 360-degree customer experience view

To identify and fix issues instantly, even before the customer recognizes the problem, takes a 360-degree understanding of individual customer behavior, preferences and perceptions in each moment, applications, services and devices in use, the customer’s location, the business and operational systems involved, and the network connection.

5. Meeting the expectations of cloud generation customers

Most people use cloud-based services and they buy experiences, not products. They expect a wealth of choice, instant gratification and personalized services delivered in their time and on their terms.

Moments of truth in digital time

A common thread running through these challenges is the idea of ‘digital time’ and the concept of ‘the moment of truth.’ When considering solutions to customer satisfaction challenges, we must recognize that today’s customers live in digital time.

Digital time is subjective, lived and experienced in the moment– right when a customer has a want or need. The customer expects service now, and when it’s not delivered now, it’s easy for her to get what she wants elsewhere. CSPs must operate in digital time to be where the customer is at any moment, ready to meet whatever needs she may have.

This moment of truth occurs when a customer interacts with a brand or service. In these small windows of digital time, CSPs can enrich and monetize a customer’s experience. Digital time starts before a moment of truth when a CSP anticipates a need; during a moment of truth when the CSP uses its 360-degree view to enrich an experience; and ends when the experience is still fresh in a customer’s mind.

The challenge is that managing customer satisfaction is astoundingly complex, involving multiple parameters that change continuously in real time. As such, CSPs need new tools and capabilities, including in-the-moment data intelligence, automation and artificial intelligence, that provide deep visibility into customer perceptions in real time, helping them better engage with customers to deliver better services, immediately address issues and, most importantly, minimize any negative impact service issues may have on customers.

As the first step, CSPs need to get their hands on the siloed nuggets of data that provide insights into their customers’ moments. These are the intelligent data breadcrumbs that depict the living digital representation of the customer. This is bottom-up intelligence, not dictated top-down. Data from the customer journey fuels the digital decision-making that recommends next best actions for CSPs to take to address customer satisfaction issues.

The proven power of the AI-driven Customer Experience Index, or CEI

A well-recognized measure of customer satisfaction is Net Promoter Score (NPS), a survey that depicts how likely a customer says they are to recommend a company, product or service. Most, if not all CSPs, use NPS or something similar as a key metric. And NPS never lies.

NPS values are captured at the moment of truth. Yet, NPS doesn’t reveal precisely what’s wrong or how to correct it. To improve customer satisfaction, you need more than NPS because alone it lacks the necessary information about how to fix the experience with insights, anomalies, predictions and ultimately recommendations for next best actions.

The CEI on the other hand has NPS and other tools natively built into not only measure customer happiness, but also to provide detailed and instant insights with root cause analysis of anomalies to determine why their satisfaction rating may be falling short. Ideally, a CEI incorporates NPS, root cause analysis and next best actions tools, and uses automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide rich, contextual information to help the CSP identify and solve issues, mitigate threats and create new opportunities.

CEI is an objective and rational software toolbox. It integrates and captures massive amounts of detailed data intelligence about the customer, the network as well as operations to provide individual insights. It then turns those insights into actions that deliver outstanding customer experiences. In effect, CEI augments human decision-making, and contributes significantly to a CSP’s ability to accelerate the resolution of issues.

The results can be spectacular for CSPs:

• Satisfaction scores of the CEI can be obtained in near real-time instead of days.
• Subscriber records are updated in customer care in minutes instead of hours.
• Root indicators of service degradations can be determined with just a few clicks, saving many hours.
• Complaints are reduced significantly, thanks to the prioritization of actions to address issues based on customer impact.

And it’s not just when the network itself is at fault. CEI incorporates an end-to-end view that can identify external issues as well, allowing the CSP to quickly take the appropriate action. For example, CSPs using Nokia’s CEI solution during a recent widespread WhatsApp outage affecting 1.2 billion users were able to instantly determine that the outage was only affecting WhatsApp, while social media and online news outlets didn’t report this finding for another hour. These instant insights gave the CSPs time to inform customers, eliminating the need for them to call the service desk to troubleshoot the problem – a process that often leads to customer frustration.

Proven results like this show that while the customer satisfaction challenges of today are great, CSPs have a huge advantage because nobody else has as much data about their customers as they do. The application of a CEI toolset makes full use of that data to ensure CSPs can keep their customers happy. And, it provides them with comprehensive way to control, impact and increase customer satisfaction and NPS.

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