Advanced analytics is transforming the process of innovation. But what is the level of awareness and management of the process? I caught up with Ioannis Tsiliras, Consumer CRM and Channel Management Director at OTE-COSMOTE, to discuss innovation, real-time requirements and customer contact.
What is your most recent experience of innovation?
Our most recent innovation is in the customer experience area. We are using technology to industrialize quality assurance in product development as a way to manage customer relationships when things go wrong. We have developed a new collaboration app with a partner, which has been successfully tested by 300 employees of our company. And this group now is our primary friendly user test population that helps us develop programs and services in the best possible way, so when they reach customers they work perfectly. This is a very big step, given the complexity of the telecommunications industry throughout both the mobile and fixed business.
What have you learned from the process?
I think, first of all, we have realized that if you really want to be innovative in a non core competence area, you might need to partner with a company that knows that field better than you. We found that collaborating with external organizations that are very good at a particular area is a critical aspect of accelerating and adopting innovation. It has also helped us to think about other aspects of the way we do things, and not just technical issues.
In a way, the collaboration app was the easy part. We realized that there is more that we could do to really transform the relationship we have with our customers. For example implement and operate an integrated set of business processes enabled by technology that focus on customer experience management (customer experience design, feedback collection, assuring the quality of the final product etc.).
How does this fit with the idea of the customer journey?
A few years ago, we realized that customer contact was moving from the physical to the digital space. This meant that traditional campaign and contact management tools would not really work in the future. Consumers expect a seamless experience from both digital and physical channels. We, therefore, wanted to be able to steer the interaction in the absence of physical contact.
To do this we had to develop some new technologies to meet our developing needs. So, for example, we implemented a new-generation contextual marketing platform that operates our direct marketing campaigns. This helped us to link big data analytics with real-time channel orchestration. We can now steer customer contact from any channel and deliver a much more personalized customer journey.
Do you think that the need to meet requirements helps or hinders innovation?
I think timing, in general, is the critical aspect of customer relationships. If you can provide the right message and the right content at the right moment, then you are most likely to have an impact. Real-time is therefore really important. Although it doesn't always work to be there every single second, , just knowing that this is important helps us to improve what we do.
We need to become more relevant with every customer contact. Real-time creates a mindset of having one precious chance not to be wasted. It’s like meeting the love of your life: You still need to know what to say to make the right impact. If you say the wrong thing, that's it, you've lost your chance. This is what we need to do as companies when we interact with our customers.
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How does this work in practice? How do you get everyone behind the ‘one chance’ concept?
I think this boils down to how organizations work. Telecoms, to a big extent, suffer from silos and hierarchies. Big companies are like supertankers; they're very difficult to steer. Our primary business is to connect households and people to a network, so we sell connectivity. Our organization is built to do this. However, analytics and personalization or network optimization need speed and flexibility. And those are not easy to achieve with the current organizational setup. We have, therefore, created a new soft agile setup. The data analysts sit with the campaign managers, the product managers, or the process owners. This means they understand the process and the flows and are able to improve what’s happening.
Can you give me an example of this?
We have developed a customer experience index to give us a daily mood score for each customer, available across every channel. So say a customer had no internet access for a couple of days and made five calls to the call centre trying to sort it out. That would feed directly to the contextual marketing platform. While that case is open, this customer would not be contacted for sales purposes and we would make a recovery contact, to apologize. If the customer contacts us in the next 30 days, say by going into a shop, the staff there would know about the bad experience. They could then do whatever was necessary to recover that customer’s experience.
This practice combines technology with customer experience policies and campaigns. It can only work when big data analysts, campaign managers, process owners, shop owners and so on all come together, decide what needs to happen and actually do it.