The key theme of this year's CommunicAsia Summit has been all about empowering the customer. We seem to have progressed from customer centricity to empowerment in a flash, but are we sure what either term means and has anyone really checked what the customer actually wants?
The promotional material for the Summit states: "With the rise of the empowered consumer, it is clear the customer has become the game-changer. The entity that knows the customer and delivers a superior experience will be the one that owns the customer. Understanding the customer's demands will and must be a key priority of business leaders in the ICT world."
Perhaps the essence of empowering customers is to let them make the choice of what experience they actually want and to have the systems in place that honor that choice as well as allowing the customer to change that status when he or she pleases.
We are all consumers of services and somebody's customer but that doesn't necessarily mean we want to be noticed, treated differently or singled out for targeted marketing. Despite what the analysts and vendors are saying, a lot of people are quite happy to be anything but the attention center of a service provider.
The term Customer Experience Management (CEM) is being bandied about as the new savior of a telecom industry being battered by over-the-top (OTT) players and their "disruptive" services. But telcos don't have a good track record as great providers of customer experience. Assuming that great products and services make for a great customer experience is a fatal mistake, and one that is repeated over and over again.
The success of those new OTT providers is not that they give great service, it's because their products are innovative, cheap to consume and are simple to manage. None of them try to be a one-stop-shop offering everything as a bundle; most are single-product companies that do that product well. The customer experience is that they can pick and choose which of these services they want and start using them instantly. Not quite the experience that telcos have nurtured over the decades!