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Press Release -- April 15th, 2011
Source: GDS International

Customer still king for telcos, says industry leader

Why telcos must learn from customer experience success stories in the banking and airline industries in order to succeed.

International telecoms companies have been surprisingly resilient in the face of the global economic crisis. Nonetheless, operators must reshape their businesses and put the customer first in order to retain customer loyalty and brand trust, according to at least one industry expert.

“The customer is king, more so than they’ve ever been before,” says Michael Lawrey, Executive Director of Network and Technology at Melbourne-headquartered telecoms and media giant Telstra, before adding that his industry could take lessons from the way in which banks and the airlines have approached the thorny issue of customer experience.

“If you have a look at customer service, the reward programs and the way they get customers to stick to their brand, I think there’s a lot the telco industry could learn from those industries,” he says. For example, in recent years airlines have improved their websites to facilitate ticket changing, cancellations, rebooking, alternative payment options, frequent flyer redemptions and online shopping; meanwhile, virtually all large air carriers have comprehensive loyalty or frequent flyer programs.

More importantly, they also have the IT systems in place to support them. Indeed, it is the use of advanced customer analytics and segmentation in both the banking and airline industries that enables in-depth analysis of trends and consumer behaviour data, which in turn can yield information leading to more sophisticated and individualised marketing contacts with customers as part of a comprehensive CRM program.

The telecoms sector could certainly benefit from such analytics in order to better identify customer opportunities. “Whether it’s analysis of customer payloads or forecasting money trends, these industries have done a great job at using analytics,” says Lawrey. “Rather than try and reinvent it for ourselves, I think we need to pick up some of the types of business analytics used successfully elsewhere and wash them through our own industry. Everything we do has to have the customer in mind; if we fail there, then I think we’re a failed cause as a provider.”

He believes that as customer expectations change, telcos need to develop different methodologies for delivering services in order to keep up. Why? “Because things today move at a much faster pace,” he explains. “If you’re truly going to move in a media, application-driven environment, you’re talking about development timescales of days and weeks rather than months and years, so the delivery methodologies have to be very agile.”

And while the 90-day delivery cycles preached by current agile delivery methodologies form a good starting point, Lawrey feels telcos need to develop an “agile-on-steroids” approach in order to move fast enough to meet new customer expectations. “We can’t have business as a slave to IT,” he says. “That’s got to stop. If we can change our mindset and our methodology around that, and extend that way of thinking to our strategic alliance partners and our suppliers so that we can speed our product development and delivery timescales even further, I think this industry is going to be very exciting.”

Developing a more customer-centric enterprise is just one of the topics up for discussion at upcoming Next Generation Telecoms Summit APAC 2011, which takes place from 20-22 September at the Amara Sanctuary on Sentosa Island, Singapore. This closed-door summit, hosted by GDS International, will feature some of the leading voices in the technology management sector, including Michael Lawrey, Executive Director of Technology and Networks at Telstra;

Priyanka Undugodage, VP Technology at Dialog Telecom; and Akbar Boghani, GM for IT Strategy at Vodafone Essar.

Alongside consideration of the telco customer experience, other key topics for discussion include embracing the cloud opportunity; delivering mobile rich internet applications that your business or customer needs; how to improve response times to changing market scenarios; and disruptive technologies in the telco environment

Next Generation Telecoms Summit APAC 2011is an exclusive C-level event reserved for 100 participants that includes expert workshops, facilitated roundtables, peer-to-peer networks and co-ordinated meetings.

For more information, visit

GDS International is a leading business-to-business events company. We offer financial, healthcare, IT service management, telecoms and oil and gas summits for senior executives throughout the Asia Pacific, Africa, China, Europe, North America and Russia markets. Our value proposition is simple: we deliver real results. And we’re very good at it. <

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