The pandemic has revolutionised the ways that organisations interact with their customers – and TMT businesses have not only done that for their own customers but enabled organisations in other sectors to do so through the use of technology and connectivity services and platforms.
But what are the real learnings of the last eighteen months, and how can TMT businesses continue to build excellent customer experiences as they transform themselves for the future?
Customer Experience Excellence
I was joined by Tim Knight, Partner in Customer Advisory at KPMG in the UK and Andrew Trasler, Director at KPMG in the UK, who were able to shed some fascinating light on this, having authored KPMG’s latest UK Customer Experience Excellence report which benchmarks companies across a wide range of sectors and examines the ways in which they are innovating to put CX at the heart of how to build and maintain performance.
Firstly, it’s clear that businesses in TMT have a lot to be proud of over the last eighteen months. The sector literally kept the world connected and the wheels of business turning. TMT provided the connectivity, data and streaming content that kept us all productive – and sane!
Indeed, there has been a dividend to that. This year’s report (now in its 12th year) finds that telecoms for example have strengthened their CX ratings having, for some years past, been seen in some cases to be ‘sub par’ when it comes to the customer experience.
While TMT is still behind the leading lights of CX – retail, grocery and some financial services – nevertheless there are signs that the experience of the pandemic may have provided a real impetus for putting the customer closer to the heart of decision making.
Connected businesses using data insights
The report highlights that to build great CX, insight really is key. This needs to come from multiple sources: front office behavioural data is clearly critical, but there are other important sources too such as Net Promoter Scores and brand equity reporting. The real trick is not only gathering all this data, but turning it into actual insight, as Tim observed.
“Having strong customer insight is now a strategic necessity,” Tim said. “TMT organisations should be asking themselves three key questions. ‘Do we have an operating model for using insight? Does that model align with our overall business operating model? Is our insight giving us a strategic advantage?’ If the answer to any of those is no, then the next five years are likely to be exceedingly challenging.”
A core concept in providing better CX is to be a connected enterprise. In the words of Andrew words, this means joining the dots so that the back office is providing better insights to support the front office to give better and more timely service to customers. “It’s about breaking down silos so that the business can capture customer insight and feedback and use that to innovate new products and services. These products and services must be brought closer to the organisation’s service centres so that there is better ability to respond to customer needs. It’s about having a more connected business that is built around the customer.” he said.
Clearly, building on the shift to digital that the pandemic has accelerated is a vital component, using it to create seamless customer journeys with the right balance of self-service and human interaction/support is where there is real value to be added. This has become possible through the use of automation and AI and something that consumer and business customers are increasingly happy to do and, indeed, expect.
Platforms and collaboration
Another important feature of the landscape is the rise of platform-based models. What this really means is opening up to allow others to offer services alongside your own business. It’s about collaboration and partnership rather than straight competition – recognising that every business operates not in isolation but in an ecosystem.
It’s a point that Tim underlined when he observed that, with 5G, IoT and edge, innovation will be fundamentally important for TMT businesses – and collaboration through platform-based models can be a powerful way to achieve this.
“We’ve seen some really effective collaborations already, between media and telecoms businesses for example,” he said. “There’s an opportunity through collaboration to become a bigger part of customers’ lives. The key change in mindset is from provider to orchestrator of outstanding products, services and experiences.”
The ESG imperative
There’s another really crucial strand that runs alongside all this too – ESG. Without doubt, ESG concerns around climate change, sustainability, societal value and purpose have become massively more prominent in recent months. COP26 has only accentuated this. So an essential component of customer experience excellence is to recognise and reflect the importance that consumers and stakeholders attach to ESG issues. This has become essential for building and maintaining trust.
It’s something that is especially pronounced amongst younger consumers. KPMG’s research found that over two thirds (68 percent) of those aged under 34 are prepared to pay more for brands that clearly demonstrate their ESG commitments.
In other words, there hasn’t just been a shift in customer behaviours (digital) – but in attitudes too. TMT must embrace this and take the lead. Decarbonisation is a critical piece of this. The decarbonisation journey holds some big challenges as well as opportunities – but it’s one every TMT business should be embarking upon.