Three ways SingTel is serving a segment of one

Grace Tang, Director, Customer Experience Assurance, SingTel
Grace Tang, Director, Customer Experience Assurance, SingTel at SAS Forum Singapore.

At the recent SAS Forum Singapore (where we also heard from DBS Bank and their analytical transformation journey), Grace Tang, the Director, Customer Experience Assurance at SingTel talked in depth about the telco’s need to do things differently in the consumer operations space. Operating in a complex environment involving smartphones, complicated product bundling (like TV, fibre, apps), evolving customer expectations and a variety of interaction spaces, eg social media, call centre etc, SingTel has begun a journey towards serving the segment of one.

It is a major transformation, as you can imagine and one that's ongoing. SingTel's call centres receive over a million calls monthly, and the business analytics team went through a structured categorisation approach where calls were tagged and the insights then shared across the departments.  “We need to know our customers better, not just to sell to them differently, but also to service them differently” said Tang. For instance, perhaps the call centre are getting too many calls for explanations on pricing. This knowledge would be routed to the billing department to review the analysis and determine that the bill is too complicated to understand. This is the bigger picture, but how does SingTel use this knowledge to recognise a customer's unique requirements? Here are three ways to personalise customer engagement or as Grace calls it 'marketing to a segment of one'.

1 – Knowing your customers

As always with a customer intelligence project, knowing your customers is vital. Who are our customers? Why are they contacting us? What are the actions we can take to prevent them from calling? As Tang explained, “We want them to come into our shops to purchase more, or tell us they’re happy with our services”. Again through analysis, SingTel know that there are network problems, perhaps the call centre is receiving a lot of calls about drop outs, and this is taken to network operations for speedy resolution. Now they understand why customers are contacting them. The next stage is to anticipate the need, for example, the customer who travels a lot needs the right roaming package. Identify and make the offer – it’s cheaper for customer and will eliminate the issue of ‘bill shock’.

2 - Serving the sophisticated customer

Have you ever phoned a call centre and suffered through the service agent’s script, fast becoming frustrated with their inability to deviate from the matrix and actually answer your question? I think you can tell that I have! I consider myself tech-savvy enough to be a danger to the standard call centre service agent – I’m impatient and I want my call escalated immediately because I’ve already done standard trouble shooting – reboot, check the battery, power source etc. SingTel recognised this customer service gap and, using sophisticated data mining and analysis, can categorise a customer's calls and automatically route to the right agent who can actually help. It’s the automatic routing that makes it smart and powerful. It's interesting to note that during their project, operational inefficiencies were surfaced, like lots of call transfers, and the root causes were analysed to determine problems, eg system, skills, product complexity. By reducing the number of calls transferred to below 9%, SingTel is proving they know their customer.

3 – Iterative improvements

The customer journey doesn’t start at the call centre however. Building a 360º view of the customer involves more than the marketing interactions - it's all customer interactions from multiple data sources. Every touchpoint including in store, via digital channels, even installation, is captured. That feedback all goes into the data warehouse. SingTel used SAS data mining tools to learn what was already known about the customers, and develop strategies to deploy. It is an “obscene amount of data”, said Tang. To add to the complexity, the data is cross functional, relating to sales, product development, customer service and so on. By listening to the data's stories, SingTel could determine how they were performing. How are we doing? What is the wait time at the shops? How many complaints have we had? How many sales? At the contact level the questions became even more granular – how many repeated calls? Were they different issues or the same issues? This led to the implementation of the SMS feedback poll – a realtime interaction where the customer could rate their service on a basic 1-5 scale. A simple feedback mechanism certainly, but it didn’t stop there. Ratings are of course tracked and related back to the improvement cycle, for instance, do customers who gave a 5 stay longer? Spend more?

SingTel is at the pointy end of leveraging their intelligence to deliver a truly personalised customer experience. They are moving from reducing, or even eliminating, customer pain points, and on to the much more lucrative stage of ‘wowing’ the customer … delighting them even.

Question ::
Is your telco or bank delighting you? Tell us about personalised customer experiences you've received recently in the comments below.



About Author

Marnie Davey


Marnie Davey is an expert in digital marketing strategy, management and execution. Since joining SAS in 2009, she has worked with country marketing teams across the region to lead digital marketing initiatives and social media programs across the Information Management, Risk and Customer Intelligence disciplines. Marnie has over 15 years’ experience in global website management, campaign planning and implementation and content marketing. She has an undergraduate degree in Internet Theory and postgraduate qualifications in Technology Management and Internet Marketing & Communications. Follow me on Twitter


  1. Charu Shankar on

    great post Marnie telling the pioneering story of Singtel...Grace Tang's vision was inspiring to read!!

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