|Topic:||Redefining service and customer experience|
|Title:||CEO of Cable & Wireless Europe, Asia and US|
|Organisation:||Cable & Wireless|
Jim Marsh is the CEO of Cable & Wireless Europe, Asia and US, joining the company as a result of the acquisition of Energis in the UK, where he served as the Business Development Director. Previously, Jim Marsh was the Chief Operating Officer at Atos KPMG Consulting and oversaw the consulting business across all industry sectors. Prior to becoming a partner at KPMG in 1997, he was head of strategic planning at Boots the Chemists. Jim Marsh is a qualified chartered accountant specialising in corporate finance and recovery.
The evolution of the communications industry gives customers a wealth of technologies to choose from, but what the customer really wants is excellent service. Given convergence, open standards and the increased competition, customers can pick from a host of suppliers. The telecom carrier’s biggest challenge is to track, understand and meet the customer’s shifting requirements. So re-designing the organisation into a proactive customer-centric company and putting all the company’s energy into developing deeper, more productive, relationships with customers is vital.
The communications industry is evolving. Convergence has brought a wealth of opportunity for growth and development and a plethora of technologies is now available to customers. But what is it that the customer actually wants? Indeed, what is the single most important factor for major international customers? Put simply, it is excellent service. More than ever before, customers are demanding vastly improved service levels from their telecommunications providers. For the telecoms carrier – already facing considerable challenges with the consolidation of companies, convergence of technologies and the widespread battle to increase market share and reduce customer churn – the biggest hurdle is in first understanding and then meeting (and even exceeding!) individual customer requirements every hour of every day. The gauntlet is being thrown down. Let the customer experience revolution begin… The customer comes first In the past few years, the telecoms industry has moved at a rapid pace. Customers now have options they didn’t have before – both in terms of the technology on offer and the choice of who supplies it. Broadband services and IP networks are available to support advanced next-generation communications and, with convergence rapidly gaining momentum, customers are looking for an array of products that can send and receive information from anywhere and at anytime. Indeed, convergence of technology has also led to the convergence of industries. Fixed operators now compete with mobile operators and service providers. The distinction between fixed and mobile worlds has blurred and the division between IT and the network is shifting. Open standards and international networks have led to increased competition from both global players and local markets. Customers can pick from a whole host of suppliers offering a wide spectrum of services and solutions. So, in the current climate, how can telecommunications providers best meet customer demands? As a matter of fact, the real question should be how can they afford not to find a way to deliver excellent service and customer experience? Quite simply, if we don’t meet the demands of our customers, we deserve to lose them. It’s no longer acceptable to just tick the boxes set out in a service level agreement and say ‘job done’. In the new world, it’s essential that telecoms operators understand and anticipate both the current and future priorities and needs of major customers and meet these needs. A consistent customer experience There is much talk in the industry of delivering value to customers – but what does it actually mean? We believe that value is not defined by lowest cost but comes from the ability to help customers develop their businesses – for example, through new channels to market or better ways of working. To address this, there is a need to build customer-focused teams to match the needs of specific customer segments. Providing consistency to customers with specific points of contact to develop a greater insight into customers’ businesses, and ensuring that we understand how our services are used to support business critical applications, will ultimately provide a better service. It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it There are three questions that are uppermost in a customer’s mind when purchasing a new communications solution: will it increase business efficiency?; will it deliver cost savings benefits?; and, lastly, will it allow new ways of working or open up new channels to market? Over the years, telecoms companies have delivered – and continue to deliver – a baffling array of solutions to delight customers. Actually, all this vast back catalogue does is bog them down and over-complicate things. What telecoms companies need to do is listen to customers and then design their businesses to address these needs. At some companies, that is exactly what has been done. They chose to exit some markets, and also product lines, that were no longer relevant to their customer base. It sounds drastic but by doing this, they can align both their human resources and capital resources according to customer needs, giving them the ability to design and implement innovative solutions that actually add value to the customer’s business. In addition, a supplier needs to offer the skills and experience to deliver consistently high service levels and have a team in place that understands their business needs. For example, customers are facing increasingly complex technology choices and, in many cases, wish to upgrade their technology from Frame Relay and ATM-based services to IP-based services. Extensive experience of such migrations – coupled with a clear understanding of each customer’s individual needs – means that customer risk can be mitigated during a transition. Global reach, local mindset International customers expect a global service. Conversations with customers reveal that scale, financial strength and global reach are important. To deliver what a customer requires to implement its international strategy, significant investment is required. Asia is a key growth market, especially in key locations such as India – where the focus is on business process outsourcing and off-shoring – and China, where the focus is on manufacturing. Both countries are experiencing double digit annual GDP growth. Customers want both a global provider who understands their needs throughout geographically diverse regions, as well as one that can execute on a local basis. A detailed understanding of the local business environment is essential to meet customers’ business priorities, so recruiting and retaining local leading talent is vital. Building deeper long-term customer relationships The industry has changed and continues to do so. Despite the challenges this brings, there are real, very significant opportunities to refresh the way to do things for customers. We believe that focusing on delivering a consistent, reliable and responsive service to customers will prove a differentiator in this highly competitive marketplace. So shaping the organisation into a proactive customer-centric company and throwing all the company’s energy into developing deeper and stronger relationships with customers is vital. Ultimately, the path to success is about delivering the vastly improved service levels customers desire and deserve – and about re-writing the rules of customer experience to ensure that in today’s fast-paced business environment customers benefit from the supplier’s understanding of their businesses.