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Have you ever been experienced?

David Ffoulkes-Jones, CEO of CEM solutions provider WDS, shares his views on how operators can develop customer experience management into a true competitive differentiator.

the CEO of a network operator right now would be a challenge.” In a verbal sketch of the industry, Ffoulkes-Jones, chief executive of customer experi- ence management specialist WDS, depicts mobile operators battling on a number of fronts—internal as well as external—and struggling to maintain their lines. “They’ve got their shareholders,


which are probably the larger pen- sion funds, in a depressed market, saying they want cash so they can afford to make their pension pay- ments. They’ve got their engineers complaining about capacity issues caused by the marketing department subsidising smartphones onto the network and they’ve got the post-sales support teams reporting that those smartphones cost an arm and a leg to support,” he says. “And on top of all these negatives, they’re already deep into the price game, commoditising the product as it stands.” In this scenario, he says, it becomes

increasingly difficult for the operator to convince its shareholders that a multi-billion dollar investment in new network technology like LTE makes financial sense. Of course, once one operator makes this move in any given market, the rest have little choice but to follow. But this relegates the net- work to the level of a hygiene factor for consumers comparing operators with one another. Meanwhile, the world of content and applications, which operators had expected to enable a new wave of differentiation, has become dominated by over the top providers. Against this backdrop a new compet-

itive arena has emerged, he says, and it is customer experience management. “As an operator, while I have to spend money on the network because without it I won’t have customers, I have to accept that the operator down


here is more than a dash of un- derstatement in David Ffoulkes- Jones’ observation that, “being

David Ffoulkes-Jones

the road is going to do the same thing. So it is not a point of differentiation. I also have to tariff and market the products in the right way, manage them in the right way and get my post- sales services right. I need to create stickiness—and the customer experi- ence, knowing the customer, delivering a great service, managing them in the way that’s right for them—will create that stickiness.” Today’s mobile operators have a degree of customer interaction that would have been unthinkable just ten years ago. Historically—espe- cially in the days when 12-month contracts were routine—an opera- tor might feasibly have interacted with a customer only at the point of uptake and the point of departure or retention. And if there was contact between these points, it went largely un-analysed. Today, due in part to the increasing depth and complexity of the mobile

experience, many customers interact with their operators’ support teams far more frequently. Invariably, in the wake of each of these interactions, an automated CRM system pings the user a text message asking them to rate the experience. Websites do the same thing, while technical reports from the network feed in information on device connection rates and dropped calls. The net result is a far greater volume of data on the customer experience— which, on the face of it, should be a good thing for any operator looking to put CEM at the heart of their brand differentiation. But, says Ffoulkes-Jones, informa- tion only has value if it is properly exploited—and even then that value can vary significantly. Furthermore, the increase in data volume could be just as easily be a burden as a bonus. “The challenge is getting a clear message out of all of the noise gener- ated by these multiple touch-points,”

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