Delivering total experience management.

Broadly speaking, humans seek two conditions as they go about trying to satisfy their needs: the removal of obstacles and the application of catalysts. We want to achieve our goals without any struggles and with full support from the environments surrounding us. That is valid for any endeavour we take: concrete or abstract, analog or digital, our efforts always want to be met with minimal resistance and maximum propulsion.

Communications Service Providers (CSPs) have faced this natural reality for some decades now. Offering services that are intimately entwined with the life journeys of their clients, they have pioneered and perfected the concept of Customer Experience Management (CEM). And, since its inception, CEM has gone a long way:

  • in the 90s, it took the form of system-centric initiatives to improve voice call quality and billing accuracy, the basic requirements imposed on CSPs back then;
  • in the 00s, it expanded its scope to pursue excellence in a broader range of service factors (customer care, products, retail shops, field maintenance, etc.) while adapting to an explosion in data services;
  • in the 10s, it embraced omnichannel management to ensure a continuous flow of personalised interactions, driven by the ubiquitous connectivity that the CSPs themselves were now delivering.

Nevertheless, for all the evolution it has experienced, CEM has remained highly context-unaware. It has chased broader operational impacts while ignoring the fundamental circumstances and motivations underlying people’s utilisation of communications services in the first place.

“As CSPs narrowly framed their CEM missions, they have reneged on what a perfect, Total Customer Experience could be.”

Telco’s clients want, unsurprisingly, what any human being does (indeed, minimum obstacles and maximum catalysts in their quest to fulfil communication needs). A perfect telco would make sure to meet both types of desires, irrevocably. And, because humans’ aversion to pain is larger than their attraction to pleasure, removing hurdles would typically take precedence over the articulation of expanded, catalysed experiences.

How could CSPs reimagine obstacle-free customer experiences, then? They should certainly focus on the basics, especially on context-expanded ones. Smart propositions that anticipate and eliminate experience problems, simply and spotlessly, before they shape up.

Detecting and proactively communicating on network degradations, for example, is a great example of context-expanded basics. Going the extra mile and uncovering the gaps between what individual subscribers are trying to do (watch a live game of their favourite football club, for example) vs. what service levels they are receiving (a connection with too high a packet loss for video streaming), and then addressing those gaps proactively with live network calibrations, would be even better. Nailing context-expanded basics means anticipating and reducing the risk of unpleasant experiences to be even noticed by clients.

Once CSPs tame sources of potential client discomfort, they can more easily focus on introducing experience catalysts. This is the territory of enlarged value propositions, where telcos go beyond traditional roles and help subscribers to achieve deeper utility on their quests.

Let’s take e-commerce habits, for example: they cannot exist without the connectivity that propels them (i.e. the basics, without obstacles). However, what users really want from e-commerce interactions are relevant and effective trades, fulfilled with safety. CSPs can offer catalysts to help with that: they can use network analytics to highlight risky transactions, offer intelligence on other online alternatives and provide extended security to their clients. The catalyst territory is new-fangled, but it carries a lot of potential for telcos that see themselves as guardians of their clients’ digital interests.

CSPs must guide their CEM philosophies alongside two complementary forces, then: the pre-emptive elimination of core pain points and the pursuit of extended digital facilitation. Both depend on identifying the deeper purposes infused in their clients’ behaviours, a key step to enable CSPs to understand the totality of the experiences sought by their subscribers. Get that right, and telcos ‘risk’ playing a much more relevant role in our digital worlds than they already do today.