Telecom operators have talked about being customer focused and putting the customer first for more than a decade, but the reality is few have taken any real action around the customer experience. As the industry evolves the challenge will be understanding the needs of the individual customer - so rather than addressing the collective groups, telcos have to work toward being able to engage the individual.
This was a key finding of a roundtable in Hong Kong organized by Telecom Asia in January and sponsored by Progress Software. The mobile operators had a variety of approaches for dealing with customer experience management (CEM).
According to a joint Telecom Asia-Stratecast survey a year ago, 66% of Asia-Pacific telcos said they had a CEM group.
"I'm actually startled that only 66% of operators say they have a CEM function," said CSL CMO Mark Liversidge. "I would think pretty much everyone would claim to have one. But I wouldn’t claim that what we’re doing at CSL is best of breed or world leading. I don’t think as an industry any of us are doing anything that is particularly leading in terms of the customer experience. Honestly, it's something we’ve all struggled with. Every telco I’ve been with has gone through at least three different variants of segmentation over the past decade and abandoned each one because they haven’t worked.
"CSL's CEM group isn’t sitting within marketing, strategy or customer service. It's a stand-alone executive who has proxy representation from all functions of the business to ensure we have ongoing focus to improve our customers" experience."
SmarTone-Vodafone doesn’t have a specific group that handles CEM, said head of engineering Ivan Leung. "It's more of a company culture that everyone has to be focused on. It's also a mindset issue. If you don’t have the right mindset, even if you have the right systems and processes in place no one will follow."
Hutchison Global Communications (HGC) in the past was more like SmarTone and didn’t have a dedicated function, said GM of business development & planning Eric Chan. "But we have just set up a dedicated team in charge of the CEM agenda and processes. They are busy now doing a lot of surveys within and outside the company trying to find what customers want.
‘The initiative was driven by our COO who sees the customer experience as one of our most important competitive advantages. That has led to the expansion of our customer support call center. We’ve just started on this journey," Chan said.
Macau's CTM faces a different challenge since so much of its revenue comes for tourists, said Scott (Chi Kwong) Ma, GM for business solution & products. 'so we have to do proactive analyze of roamers."
He noted that one of the key applications is location-based services for the hotels and casinos.