I firmly believe that telecommunications executives have a once-in-a-management-lifetime opportunity to truly transform the customer experience for competitive and financial advantage. We all know that we are operating in a time of unprecedented challenges for the communications sector. In addition to being one of the most hyper-competitive sectors, a McKinsey survey recently found that “telecoms come second only to media in the ranks of sectors expecting moderate or massive digital disruption over the next 12 months.” Nevertheless, as the old saying goes, “it’s always darkest before the dawn.” We finally have a business landscape in which what is good for the customer also drives shareholder value. A reinvented customer experience that combines digital self-service and hyper-efficient interactions with live care not only makes customers happy, it’s good for the bottom line.
But customers aren’t happy. From Pega’s own research, we know that nearly two-thirds of telco and broadband providers believe that they know their customers well. Less than a quarter of customers agree. The bottom line is that many organizations believe that they are transforming customer engagement but few customers notice the difference.
Given this, how do you capture the opportunity? Let me offer three pillars of success that underpin true transformation – the kind that customers will notice and reward: agility, choreography across the customer journey, and superior software that delivers outcomes.
Key #1: Agility
The window of opportunity is short. Customer expectations are evolving – how many of us took Uber regularly five years ago? Then came challengers in the form of Lyft, Gett, and others. Competitors can replicate and disrupt your experiences faster than ever. Although many of them will fail, speed counts for you to beat them – both the initial launch and the ability to evolve over time to stay one step ahead of the competition. Agile isn’t just a software development methodology. It also means the ability to define new customer experiences around sales, service, and marketing and make them a reality, without legacy systems and processes getting in the way. I read an article in Forbes recently that cited a survey showing that when agile methods were applied to marketing, over 90% of teams said it helped them improve speed to market. Pair this with technology that enables teams to quickly translate innovation into actual customer experiences and you have real competitive advantage.
Key #2: Choreography
Transforming the customer experience is all about choreography across the customer journey. Great journeys knit together channels, products, and geographies to create the flexibility required to provide seamless customer experience. Think about the great digital experiences of today – with apps for ridesharing, instant delivery, and on-demand services. Why are these great? Is it the apps? No. It’s the knitting together of online and offline experience. An app with a driver. A local delivery of pretty much anything. An on demand housekeeper? Everything working together, seamlessly, and flexing based on your particular experience. Or how about Amazon Go, their new supermarket? Walk in, sign in with your phone, grab your food, and walk out. Get personalized recommendations along the way.
Is it a single, inflexible path that drives only one experience? No, it’s a flexible mesh that knits together multiple technologies that allows for different paths that can adapt and be personalized for each customer.
Key #3: Superior software
Cool Silicon Valley analogies aside, as an executive you need to operationalize your customer journeys. This means investing in software that eliminates legacy complexities to deliver better outcomes. It requires practical technology and specific capabilities to enable agility and choreography. Most importantly, shattering sources of legacy complexity requires a model-driven approach that abstracts your business into a unified platform that speaks a visual language that both business and IT can understand.
In subsequent blog posts, we’ll explore these capabilities in depth, but let me suggest that your technology must address five sources of legacy complexity:
- Outcomes: how can I ensure that customer journeys and outcomes drive my processes (not vice versa)?
- Organization: how do I manage variability in requirements easily?
- Automation: how can I eliminate manual processing and integration?
- Information: how can I access the data I need, when I need it (including in real time)?
- Experience: do I need to replace all of my existing interfaces?
These are tough questions with no simple answers but I promise this blog series will explore practical solutions to each. But until then, ask yourself whether your organization is transforming customer engagement, and if so, are you confident that your customers will notice the difference in a way that makes them happy and improves your bottom line?
Steve Rudolph is Business Line Leader for Communications & Media at Pegasystems.