The need for speed in customer experience

In 1966 Simon & Garfunkel released the 59th Street Bridge Song in which they told us: “Slow down, you move too fast, You got to make the morning last.” This prophetic warning about the frenetic pace of modern life still rings true in an always-connected, always-on world and, as a lifestyle commentary, is still valid.

The challenge is that communications service providers (CSPs) often still move at the same groovy pace they did in the 60s; while their customers are living at the digital speed (of light) of the 20s. This mismatch of expectations creates frustrating anomalies in the customer experience.

We’re quick to tell customers that they’ll save oodles of time with our new digital networks – “movie downloads will decrease from 7 minutes to less than 10 seconds”. We’re hugely excited about deploying automated technologies such as AI, chatbots, voice-enabled service etc to deliver faster service. But we still expect customers to wait on hold for extended periods to talk to human customer service agents. (see Australians wasting millions hanging on telephone) Want to make a change to your package? If you’re lucky that will be applied at the next billing cycle (in three weeks); if not it will be the following cycle (in 5-7 weeks). Broadband gone down? We’ll get an engineer out to fix that in the next 48 hours (or so). ‘Of course we want to improve the experience – we just need to complete our digital transformation first’…

Critical parts of the experience don’t match the speed of our networks or digital expectations of our customers. Automating poor processes doesn’t improve them. Change is too slow.

No-one can afford to wait 24 months for things to get better. So the key question you should be thinking about is: how can I deliver more customer-tangible improvements in the next 12 months? Note I said customer-tangible. I have no doubt you can change a lot of things, but it isn’t just about organisation-centric goals, it’s absolutely essential that change improves things for the customer in a way they can actually perceive. And anything that starts with ‘transformation’ isn’t going to cut it in the race to meet New Normal customer expectations.