My 25 years in the telecom industry have taken me from small startups to global service organizations—with a little bit of everything in between. I’ve worked with just a few customer-facing people and I’ve overseen thousands of employees.
I’ve been a part of legitimately meaningful innovations, and I’ve also been involved in a swing-and-a-miss or two (but never three!).
People, process, and technology
This is not a brag, but simply some context: as an operational leader within these companies, I saw from a strategic level how people, processes, and technology are leveraged.
I saw how they create experiences that can either delight users… or woefully frustrate them. When we stop thinking about what we could make our product, and instead consider things as a user does, we can meet their expectations more squarely.
Then everybody wins!
We don’t win with products, we win with happy customers. But customer expectations are fickle. They change constantly, sometimes seemingly overnight, and sometimes as a slow burn brought on by the accumulation of new experiences.
Customer experience (CX) in the telecom industry is more than another buzzword
About seven years ago, I was leading operations at a global company, and we thought we were really onto something special and innovative. We came up with the idea of a chat application for businesses—very similar to today’s must-have collaboration apps, like Slack or Microsoft Teams.
But despite having built a strong product, that project was one of those big risks that didn’t pay off. Why? Culture.
Businesses hadn’t yet seen the influx of an entire generation of digital-native employees for whom texting was the norm. A lot of people were still catching up to the thought of using email regularly!
Chat didn’t match their experiences or their expectations. It took a while for those experiences to accumulate before the product category became viable.
Market differentiation is not a product
In a 2018 article, Forbes argued that customer experience is the new brand—and I must say I agree quite strongly.
Market differentiation is not a product; it’s the customer experience that delights the consumer of that product.
Take Facebook. It wasn’t launched as a precisely defined brand with a set of values and carefully thought out products to match. Its brand was the experience itself—one that met a cultural need and provided an enjoyable experience (at least, at first…).
This is the case for virtually all digital products today: the experience is the brand. But as technology grows, companies must interact with customers at new and evolving touchpoints.
No longer is the value of your brand in your design, your message or how creatively you communicate. Instead, it is the sum of a person’s experiences at every new touchpoint.
Domino’s understood this well and early—ordering from any device, a pizza delivery tracker, and even filling potholes in your neighborhood so your pizza would be undisturbed on its way. They made the experience better at every touchpoint.
The Forbes article uncovers a shocking (or maybe not-so-shocking) view of the gap between brand self-awareness and customer expectations.
To close that gap requires empathy and real passion. Passion not just for understanding people, but actively and genuinely rooting for them.
I came out of a year-long retirement because Jim (our CEO) and Sam (our President) are exactly the right leaders to drive a company focused on success via CX, and the foundations of excellent people and technology are clearly well in place.
We understand that if we can identify processes and technologies that benefit our customers and our people and company, everyone will shine and thrive.
What we’ve been up to
OK, so nobody would check off “once-in-a-century global pandemic” under ideal scenarios for starting a job as COO.
But the opportunities we’ve identified, the progress and empathy we’ve demonstrated, have all been so beautifully illustrative of my belief that Broadvoice can and will be both the leading employer and service provider in this space.
We’ve done a tremendous amount of work to understand where we can make changes to guarantee an excellent customer experience every single time.
Primarily, we’ve found that standardizing the installation and onboarding process leads to smoother experiences and happier customers.
Complete Survey Results
To support this initiative, we’re rolling out TaskRay—a workflow management tool that gives partners and customers a direct view into every step of the onboarding process. TaskRay generates a link that will give stakeholders clear insight while facilitating direct action to resolve any blockers.
TaskRay Order Tracking
Standardizing the experience in this way also allows us to work more flexibly when we need to. Even with the coronavirus making uncertainty the norm, we’ve been able to support customers in emergency scenarios with two-day expediting of service installations for businesses in desperate need.
We wouldn’t have been able to step up for people if we hadn’t done the hard work. I’m proud that we have, and I can’t wait to see what more will come of it.
Our company has also cancelled or deferred upward of one million dollars for customers, to support them in these dire financial times. I’m quite proud of that, too.
And we’re investing heavily in you all as well. The more knowledgeable and experienced each of us becomes, the more confidently we can act on our values and deliver a great experience for the people we partner with.
We’ve already seen a tremendous leap in customer satisfaction scores during what may be the most trying period of our lifetimes.
I can only imagine what good is to come as we continue to find new ways that technologies like AI and voice recognition, along with insightful process optimizations, will help our organization—and everyone who’s a part of it—to shine.