Customer Experience is becoming King

Telefónica’s strategy highlights how customer experience is rising up telcos’ agenda

As telecoms markets across the world become increasingly competitive, customer experience is the new buzzword. But it isn’t just talk. Aiming to build deeper, stronger relationships with customers, some telcos are taking concrete steps to turn their mobile workforces into an efficient and productive competitive weapon.

A great example of this trend is a recent move by Telefónica, one of the largest telecoms groups in the world, to prioritize customer experience measures within a broad IT transformation initiative.  The Madrid-based group has made mobile workforce management the second technology piece to be selected out of more than a dozen technology elements involved in the transformation initiative. Telefónica announced on April 10th, that it will deploy TOA Technologies’ mobile workforce management solution across its footprint in Latin America and Europe.


Turning antagonists into advocates

Serving 315 million customers across 24 countries, Telefónica is seeking greater visibility into the performance of contactors installing and repairing equipment in homes, so it can better gauge customers’ satisfaction with those appointments. This is important because a visit by a service engineer might be the only personal contact the customer has with their telco for months. Instead of thinking of engineers in the field as a cost center, telcos need to see them as building a pipeline for new business.

Just as we grumble to friends and colleagues about the inconvenience of waiting hours for a technician to arrive, we will also talk about surprisingly good experiences. Technicians that are prompt, efficient and polite will turn previously agnostic or antagonistic customers into advocates. And their employers’ will gain market share.

Arriving on-time, every time

By deploying TOA Technologies’ mobile workforce management solution, Telefónica is aiming to improve the accuracy of its appointment scheduling and, thereby, increase the number of on-time arrivals at customers’ homes. TOA’s solution uses time-based performance pattern recognition and predictive analytics to personalize the workday for each employee in the field – in other words, the contractor’s schedule will reflect the time they typically take to complete each kind of task. This personalization helps to ensure that the technician will arrive at each appointment with the right information and, crucially, on time.

The net result is a service provider can reduce conventional four-to-eight hour service windows to 60 minutes or less with 96% accuracy. For a consumer, having to wait at home for an hour, rather than a day, represents a massive improvement in their experience.

Greater efficiency, higher productivity

As well as enabling Telefónica to increase revenue and build lasting relationships with customers, TOA’s mobile workforce management solution will help the group cut costs – another high priority across the telecoms industry.  By improving operational efficiency and workforce productivity, TOA’s solutions can reduce the miles driven per appointment by 40%, increase the daily job completion rate by almost 50% and cut overtime by 75%.

Fast and flexible

At the start of the procurement process, Telefónica was looking for an on-premises workforce management solution with an option for it to be delivered as software-as-a-service (SaaS). During the selection process, Telefónica recognized the ability of SaaS to scale quickly and made a cloud-based solution a priority. The first operating company to deploy, in Brazil, is on course to go live later this year. Enrique Blanco, global CTO for Telefónica, says he selected TOA’s cloud-based solution partly because “it is able to scale to our global needs and meet our goals for fast deployment.” In a rapidly changing market, operational agility is now clearly a must for telcos.

When the industry gathers in Nice next month for the TM Forum, the themes I have identified in this post – customer experience, cost-cutting and cloud – will be much discussed.  And telcos won’t just be paying lip-service to these concepts. Telefónica’s strategy suggests telcos now recognize the flexibility and agility of cloud-based solutions, while continuing to make operational efficiency a high priority. But, for me, the most important takeaway is this: Telcos plan to make customer experience king.