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How to put the customer experience first in five easy steps

How to put the customer experience first in five easy steps

The Australian telecommunications industry fielded an extraordinary 158,652 new complaints in 2012-13. This is almost five times higher than the number received by the Financial Ombudsman Service during the same period.

It seems the race to have something different, to offer the hottest products, to lower call rates and increase data offers has seen the industry fail to place the same focus on customer service.

In the past, customers were not able to measure and compare services before they signed a partnership with any objectivity. However, thanks to the new customer experience metric known as net promoter score (NPS), customers can now make informed choices.

Consumers now consider the customer experience to be a key point in their decision-making process, simply because companies which do it well are able to prove it, rather than just speaking about it, during the tender process. NPS started as an internal customer experience measure but it’s becoming more common to see it referred to publicly.

Five years ago, when most business telco providers were focused on selling products and packages, Macquarie Telecom decided to invest in improving our customer experience to make that our competitive advantage.

We started this journey by looking outside our industry and into the NPS methodology for inspiration. The metric allows a company to ask its customers arguably the most important feedback question: “Would you recommend us?”

It was a risk at the time, but a choice that has paid off.

Today we have one of the strongest business NPS scores in the Australian telecommunications industry, with an average score that sits comfortably above 30. (The telco industry norm is thought to be about zero.)

My advice to those who, like me, believe the customer experience should be at the centre of business strategy and leadership is:


1. Understand the customer journey

How do your customers approach your business? What is their experience like when they’re talking to you? Do they get bounced around or does someone take ownership of the problem?

At Macquarie Telecom we created the Customer Corridor, a strategy that gives responsibility and accountability for each section of the customer journey to an executive who must drive the issue management process from start to finish. Our NPS is measured across each section and actions are taken to improve customer experience where required, based on real-time data.


2. Be open to feedback

Your people know your business incredibly well. They also know what your customers want as they’re your frontline, day to day. Creating an environment where staff can give feedback and where different teams can work together to develop solutions will help eradicate recurring issues.

3. Involve the entire team

At Macquarie Telecom we hold weekly “not on my watch” meetings where all executives, sales, and support staff attend to hear any issue a customer may be facing, large or small, and come up with a resolution pathway to ensure it is resolved quickly and effectively.

4. Report in real time

Real-time reporting at different touch points in the organisation allows you to monitor feedback and adjust actions almost instantly to ensure the changes you make flow through to the customer and to the greater organisation. It’s also the strongest link in making the NPS system work for you.

This is in contrast to the annual customer feedback survey that companies have been sending out for decades, which give businesses limited ability to make improvements.


5. Learn from others

When changing our customer process, we looked to the journeys of others who were already successful in this space. We engaged world leaders in people management and customer care, the Ritz-Carlton, to train our staff in the same way they teach their staff. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice or take from the positive experiences of others.

*Original Article by David Tudehope: