Why are Telecoms so bad at Customer Experience?

by Colin Shaw on June 8, 2012

We recently conducted global research of over 40 telecoms companies globally and one question proved to be the ‘killer’ question. We asked Customer Experience professionals in these companies ‘Which Telecoms company do you most admire for delivering a good Customer Experience? ‘The silence was deafening. They couldn’t name one Telecoms company doing Customer Experience well.

In our research ‘Seven key ingredients for a successful Customer Experience program in Telecoms’ we reveal the state of Customer Experience initiatives in Telecoms and offer recommendations.

The first recommendation is a simple one, but very important. If you wish to improve your Customer Loyalty and Customer retention the solution does not lie in the Telecoms industry. DO NOT look to other Telecoms companies for best practice. It doesn’t exist! As no one is standing out in providing a good Customer Experience we would suggest you don’t try and copy your competition. The solutions lie outside the telecoms industry, not inside. Therefore, it is critical to look at the Customer Experience outside the telecoms industry, attend seminars, conferences from other industries sectors or employ consultants with a broad background and learn from them.

But why is this the case? First of all, full disclosure. Let me say straight away I worked in Telecoms for 18 years for one of the largest Telco’s in the world before leaving in 2001 to set up one of the first ever dedicated Customer Experience consultancies, Beyond Philosophy. I am not naming the company I worked for out of respect to my previous employer, but I want to share the learning.

A number of the traits I witnessed during this time I now see in many Telco’s today. Not a lot has changed. The company had a series of values the first of which said ‘We put the Customer first’. The reality was far from this. Customers came a distance second to what was good for the organization. Cost cutting, internal politics, profits and the need for positive analyst briefing always outweighed the Customer. Senior managers said they were interested in the Customer but their actions showed they weren’t. Two occasions spring to mind. The first was when my colleagues suggested we stopped measuring Customer Satisfaction as they never paid any attention to the results! The second occurred on the last day at the company. I attended a budget meeting. We were reviewing where we were spending money for our 55,000 engineers. I always remember observing at the end of the meeting that not one initiative was focussed on improving the Customer Experience. All new initiatives were focussed on cost reduction. The reality was the Customer was not in their blood. It was not part of the culture.

Is your organization like this? I don’t see a lot of change in the Telecoms companies I have seen recently.

To answer my own question the reason telecoms are so bad at Customer Experience is there is a focus on themselves rather than the Customer, despite the words for Senior Exec’s to the contrary. This attitude then spills over into every aspect of all employees’ behaviour. Let me also say Telecoms is not alone. This is prevalent in far too many organizations. The biggest lesson I have learnt in the fifteen years I have been doing Customer Experience is it’s all about the mind-set. Telecoms mind-set is ‘inside out’.

On a personal basis I realised I was not serious about improving the Customer Experience and realised my future lay elsewhere, by starting up my own company, Beyond Philosophy, and working with companies who are serious. This is one of the best decisions I have made in my long career.

The good news is we have worked with some good telecoms companies who are doing a good job on Customer Experience. Turkcell, in Turkey and Du in Dubai are good examples of what should be done. See our webinar case study.

In my humble opinion I still believe there is a massive opportunity for a Telecoms company to get this right and people would then flock to them. However, it takes actions not words. It will take true commitment from the top and a dedicated team of Customer Experience professionals. In the meantime I live in hope for an industry I still have a great affinity to. One thing is clear; Customer Experience professionals need to look for inspiration outside the Telecoms industry not within to truly make a difference in their Customer Experience.

Find out more about Customer Experience in Telecoms

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Why are Telecoms so bad at Customer Experience? by colin shaw

Colin Shaw is founder & CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author of four best-selling books. Beyond Philosophy provide consulting, specialised research & training from offices in Atlanta, Georgia and London, England.

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Colin ShawWhy are Telecoms so bad at Customer Experience?