Your Voice has Changed, Socially Speaking (Part 2) by Robert Lamb, Practice Director, Contact Center Consulting Services, AT&T

December 7, 2012

Best Practices for Interacting with Your Customers via Social Media

Social media provides a unique opportunity to gain insight into and influence public opinion in a changing climate.  Your current and prospective customers are likely talking about your products and services and those of your competitors on social media.

Gaining Insight & Knowledge…

Companies are realizing social media provides an opportunity to develop a competitive differentiator as social media provides insight into your customers’ and prospects’ perception of your company’s products and services.  You get the opportunity to listen into unfiltered opinions that are better than any focus group can provide.  This is due to the broader sample and insight from customers you want to influence at the time you want to influence them.

This gives you a great insight to identify symptoms of dissatisfaction or poor performance.  Then you can perform root cause analysis to improve product offerings and services, product bundling improvement or improve internal processes. Use social network mentions as an opportunity to mine an insight to your customer’s mindset.

Social media can be a rich source of knowledge for troubleshooting your own products and services and for generating new ideas.  Scrub this knowledge into trusted “single source” content before publishing it to your website and customer service organizations.

Companies are using their social networks to provide added services that have significantly improved their market share.   One financial institution has developed an online community to give financial advice not only from its employees but from other community members.  The excellence of this advice has become so noteworthy that it is credited as a key differentiator in the double digit market share growth the company has experienced since this initiative.

Social media also gives insight of the customer perception of your competitors too. This gives you opportunity to find competitive advantages for your products against your competition. It also provides an opportunity to identify weaknesses in your company’s offerings to better improve your competitive strategy.

Companies are also finding there’s a financial advantage to using social media and their customer contact strategy as well.  Companies are using social as a way to reduce expense.  They do this by providing proactive information (e.g., alerts to product or billing changes) or instructions (e.g., how do I begin using my new cell phone) that historically would have generated phone calls into the call center, the most expensive method of interaction, often by 20x.

How to Get Started…

What are the first changes a company should adopt?   The first and strongest is to plan before you execute. While every company has a unique combination of value proposition and customer demographics, there are good, universal best practices to incorporate in your social media strategy.  We’ve seen several companies either fail to address social media challenges to their brand or make a half-baked first step only to turn a small win opportunity into a PR failure.  Protect your brand by not ignoring social media’s impact.

Keep in mind that social media mentions are a window into conversation that is not yours, but that you are allowed to eavesdrop into.  Resist the temptation to engage to change perception or correct details.  Social network members prioritize freedom of thought first.  A strong response to a thread in a poorly received manner can deliver quite an undesired and negative reaction.

Pick the media that make sense for your business and prioritize your investments accordingly.  If your intent is to market your products or answer frequently asked questions before they are asked, the focus on “one to many” media such as YouTube or portals may be a good first step, for example.

Consistent Customer Experience…

Make sure your organization has the policies, technology, knowledge, process, and people in place to provide high-speed, high-quality customer service that is required by social media before jumping in. This is a good best practice in all things customer interaction related, but particularly with the visibility of social media in its “one to many” dynamic.

AT&T Consulting suggests as a good first practice to develop your listening skills first. By doing so, you’re able to gain a sense of the tone of the conversation and gather those valuable insights of what customers are saying about you and your competitors in this most open of focus groups. Once you gain a sense of where opportunities lie, you can then consider when to engage.

Once you’re ready to engage, the speed and quality of customer service responses need to be much higher in social media than in traditional channels. A delay in satisfactory responses to mentions in social media can begin to create a mob mentality. This can create many other mentions piling on to a perceived issue that may have been fostering.

The most effective way to ensure consistent service that breeds the desirable customer experience and to minimize risk of negative reaction is to unify social network support with traditional contact centers.  Unify social network support with traditional contact centers. A lack of this approach has created inconsistent and dissatisfying customer experiences and incomplete evaluation of the customer experience.

Brand-aware, customer-focused enterprises should be planning a unified approach to customer contact that includes social media. This allows contact center agents and online community managers to have a full view of traditional and social customer interactions, and customers don’t have to repeat information and recreate context as they go across social and traditional channels.

Ensure that you provide the right level of service across traditional and social channels—for example, a platinum customer should receive platinum service across traditional and social.  Customer loyalty is as important as ever in social media as it is in individual interactions. Be sure your valued customer feels valued.

To merge the traditional and the social together effectively and efficiently, AT&T recommends developing a holistic plan for customer contact using experienced resources, such as AT&T Consulting. Holistic strategies for customer contact should include social media to maximize opportunity while minimizing risk.

Read Robert’s official blog post at:

Robert Lamb will be speaking at Customer Experience Management in Telecoms Global Summit 2013.

View the Final Agenda for the conference.

If you would like to receive more information about the event, or secure your place, or if you have any questions, please write to us at and we will be happy to help.


Smart Businesses Support Smartphone Customer Contact by Robert Lamb, Practice Director, Contact Center Consulting Services, AT&T

December 7, 2012

Best Practices for Developing a Contact Center Strategy

You’ve picked up one of the hot smartphones and loaded it with all the cool apps.  Now, you’re using one of those apps to book a hotel room.  You’ve authenticated with your preferred guest number, entered your trip destination and dates, and targeted a short list of fun properties. However, you can’t find the amenities list to decide which hotel best suits you.  So, you abandon the app and phone the call center.  Here’s the end result:

  • You’re now less satisfied as a customer because you’ve lost all of the authentication and contextual data as the process for booking the hotel starts over.
  • You taught yourself to use the most expensive method of contact (phone call to live agent) both for this time and in future.
  • Your image of the hotel chain is lessened by the poor experience from the cool smartphone app that you wanted to use but took you longer anyway.

Or worse – you decided to try a competitor hotel’s smartphone app to book your room. A 2011 Harris Interactive study found that 63% of all online adults surveyed said they would be less likely to buy from the same company via other purchase channels if they experienced a problem conducting a mobile transaction.

Soaring Smartphone Use Brings Customer Service Issues to Forefront

As consumers, more of us are using smartphones to handle tasks more efficiently—and the number of users continues to grow. Nielsen estimates that 44% of Americans use smartphones today (and over 50% in some other developed countries).

Business is driving smartphone adoption, especially in the retail space where mobile shopping is soaring. RSR Research found that 92% of B2C winners (retailers who outperform their peers in year-over-year sales growth) have decided that consumers are using mobile as part of their shopping experience and they need to be there.  Projecting that into the future, Tealeaf Technologies suggests that mobile devices will become the No. 1 medium for digital commerce by 2015. That’s why it is disturbing that so many adult smartphone users (84% in the U.S., according to a recent Harris study) reported problems with mobile transactions.

Apps to the Rescue – Customer Service within Smartphone Apps

A proactive and potentially more satisfying solution to this dilemma is to make customer service resources available within the smartphone app.  This function effectively links mobility to customer service in the channel the customer chose, increasing customer satisfaction. Remember, you chose to use that app as your preference for a reason, and making that interaction into a satisfying one honors your choice.

When you, as a customer, feel your desires are valued by the company you want to do business with, you get a stronger impression that your business is valued, which encourages customer loyalty.  And, since the cost-per-contact is lower in the app than for a call to the contact center, keeping the customer in the mobility channel also reduces customer service operating expenses.

Leading contact center technologies have developed and are enhancing capabilities that provide that link of mobility to customer service.  Functionally, ranges from opening a chat window in the app for customers to connect with a live contact center agent to enabling a voice conversation within the app that brings the context and customer data as a screen pop to the agent.

Options for Deployment – Start with Strategy

There are many choices for how businesses can deploy app-based customer service based on cost to procure and deploy, meeting the specific customer contact requirements of the business, and finding interaction with the best-suited contact center resources that are integrated both into the smartphone app and the host environment.

In our experience at AT&T Consulting, we find that the most actionable and accurate way for businesses to sort through these choices and find the solution that works best is with a comprehensive contact center strategy. A contact center strategy provides definitive and custom recommendations and a cost/benefit analysis that aligns with your business objectives and customer preferences.

Read Robert’s official blog post at:

Robert Lamb will be speaking at Customer Experience Management in Telecoms Global Summit 2013.

View the Final Agenda for the conference.

If you would like to receive more information about the event, or secure your place, or if you have any questions, please write to us at and we will be happy to help.

5 Steps to Increasing Your Net Promoter Score by Robert Lamb, Practice Director, Contact Center Consulting Services, AT&T

December 7, 2012
5 Steps to Increasing Your Net Promoter ScoresNow more than ever, businesses are trying to gain strong enough favor with their customers for them to share their positive experience with their friends. As a consumer, you’ve likely noticed the prevalence of offers on the back of your receipt, by a QR code or by a sign in the store asking you to complete a customer satisfaction survey after a transaction — and for good reason.  Today’s customers have a broader knowledge of businesses and their competitors. Turning customers into evangelists by creating brand promoters is a key factor in the acquisition of new customers. In fact, 90 percent of potential customers trust peer advice when making a buying decision; by comparison, only 14 percent of consumers trust media or print ads.The Net Promoter Score (NPS) was developed by Fred Reichheld, Bain & Company and Satmetrix as an engagement metric to quantify customer satisfaction and thereby the inclination to share their opinion. Following a sales or support interaction, surveyed customers are asked whether they would recommend a product or service, using a scale from 1–10. Customer response scores are segmented into three groups:

  • Promoters (score 9–10): considered to be loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and referring others, fueling growth
  • Passives (score 7–8): satisfied but unenthusiastic customers vulnerable to competitive offerings
  • Detractors (score 0–6): unhappy customers who can damage brand image and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth
5 Steps to nurture Promoters through successful interactions

Step 1 – The first step toward developing a Promoter is to create a positive experience for your customer.  Achieving customer satisfaction is particularly important during interactions with your contact center, since it is the formal point of customer-to-vendor interactions.  Human nature shows that if we are pleasantly satisfied, our desire will increase to repeat the activity. For business, this means two things, both requiring significant planning and careful research before execution:

    1. Understand the expectations of the customer
    2. Prepare to meet or exceed those expectations consistently

Step 2 – A positive experience must be delivered consistently to create predictability. When customers expect a positive experience, by nature, humans want to do it again. When customers predict the positive experience, since human nature leads us to repeat satisfying activities, customers will begin to develop loyalty.

Step 3 – Profitability begins in the third year of the customer and vendor relationship lifecycle, because margin in the first two years of the customer relationship only recoups customer acquisition costs. To mature customer relationships to profitability in these times of peer influence, businesses need to create a loyalty into and beyond the third year of the relationship. When customer relationships become profitable, corporate energy is created to continue down the positive path of customer acquisition and growth for the enterprise.

Step 4 – When businesses establish loyalty with heightened satisfaction in customer-to-vendor relationships to the point of sharing that experience with their friends, Promoters are developed.  Just ask customers of customer centric organizations like Harley-Davidson or Southwest Airlines to try a competing brand, and you’ll often see an enthusiastic response of loyalty. Customers pleased to the point of excitement with having their expectations exceeded want to share their enthusiasm, particularly in the social media enabled world.

Step 5 – A key element in ensuring customer satisfaction is to honor the customer’s choices.  Since first impressions are impactful and lasting, the most notable of choices to honor is to respect the manner in which the customer chose to converse in the first place. In today’s smartphone ubiquitous, time-starved society, customers desire and expect conversations in the manner of their convenience and within increasing expectations of speed the completion.

Practically speaking, if a customer wants assistance within a smartphone application, businesses need to be prepared to deliver a positive experience contained within the smartphone app. To do this, contact centers need to be equipped both operationally and technologically to provide a consistent experience throughout all of the projected channels their customers desire.

Preparing for multi-channel access is a significant task considering the varying expectations and technologies required to deliver a consistent experience across multiple channels. Contact center vendors offer many technology choices, not all of which will achieve the goals intended. Significant cost items such as labor and process development can also make or break the success of developing a positively consistent customer experience.  I have seen careful planning and budgeting with experienced talent go a long way to ensuring that results satisfy the enterprise and its customers — while staying within budget.

Read Robert’s official blog post at:

Robert Lamb will be speaking at Customer Experience Management in Telecoms Global Summit 2013.

View the Final Agenda for the conference.

If you would like to receive more information about the event, or secure your place, or if you have any questions, please write to us at and we will be happy to help.

BIG DATA: Are you ready to take action?

November 22, 2012

Big Data Monetisation in TelecomsWe all know that telecoms operators are sitting on vast amounts of data and information.  The key now is that they tap into this potential goldmine of data and turn it into a strategic asset that can propel their business forwards, most crucially driving revenues.

At a recent conference, leading strategist Von McConnell, from the US giant Sprint said.There’s a $260 billion advertising industry out there just trying to get at this data.″


With most operators appearing unequipped to successfully exploit their data assets they seem a long way from being able to capitalise on the emerging era of Big Data and take advantage of this new billion dollar industry.


Clearly there are still challenges to overcome, but operators need to act now or they risk being outmanoeuvred by the OTT providers who are poised and ready to take control.  They must move quickly and develop new business models and strategic plans specifically geared towards Big Data – especially with M2M communications on the rise and the volume of data entering into an operator’s business about to explode.

Big Data Monetisation in TelecomsThe question for operators all over the globe is; are you ready to take action?  Or, will you be left as nothing more than a dumb pipe in the emerging era of Big Data?

Come and debate the hottest topic in telecoms our Big Data Monetisation in Telecoms event and make sure you are ready to capitalise on the next big wave in telecoms.


Big Data Monetisation in Telecoms: 22-24 January 2013 – London, UK

Big Data Monetisation in Telecoms: View the Final Agenda.

Big Data Monetisation in Telecoms: Register Now.

LTE continues to thrive across the world

September 17, 2012

LTE Strategies 2012Recent data from the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) shows that 68 operators across  countries have launched commercial LTE services in the last 12 months.

These operators are expected to have 152 commercial LTE services in 65 countries by the end of the year.  This is an expected growth of more than 50% in the next quarter alone!

The GSA report also shows that there are a further 55 operators in 11 countries in the initial stage of negotiation to launch LTE services.

The UK in particular is accelerating its LTE launches and according to EE (the new brand for Everything Everywhere), its new 4G network will cover a third of the UK population by the end of 2012.  Further towns, cities and rural areas, will follow rapidly with 2013 population coverage to reach 70%, with 98% covered by 2014.

It’s clear from this report that LTE has never been a hotter topic for discussion and, as 347 operators in 104 countries commit to commercial LTE network deployments, engage in trials, technology testing or studies, the momentum behind LTE looks set to explode.

LTE Strategies 2012 will focus on developing sustainable LTE business models and network migration strategies that generate revenue profit and growth. View the complimentary FINAL AGENDA for the conference.

An important discount deadline is coming up this Friday, 21 September 2012 (you could save up to €250).

You can book your attendance online or by sending a request to us at

Is your data fuelling growth?

September 12, 2012

Big Data Monetisation In Telecoms

Data has recently been described as the oil that will fuel operators’ future growth (Ovum, 2011), with some operators looking to transform themselves into companies that primarily manage data as well as providing communications services. 

With operators currently under immense pressure to generate revenues and reduce churn in an increasingly competitive market, it is now imperative that they start to use their data to drive revenues.

As OTT players such as Google and Skype eat into revenues, operators are desperate to deliver new, compelling, revenue-generating services without overloading networks and without costs spiralling out of control.  They have to find new ways to manage their operations and their data in order to stimulate revenue growth. 

After conducting research with tier one operators across Europe, the biggest question they are currently asking is: just how do I collate, analyse and exploit the vast amounts of data in my possession?

Using insights from data to create value for the organisation, whether it’s the systematic identification of unused assets, network fault detection or uncovering customer insights, operator’s previously untapped data presents a significant opportunity to increase revenue, optimise costs and reduce churn.  The big question now is, which operators will pioneer this new era of big data and lead the way as they strive to be seen as the best in their field?

Big Data Monetisation In Telecoms – 22-24 January 2013, London. Draft Agenda.

Overcoming the challenges of Number Portability implementation

August 1, 2012

A lot has been made in the news lately of the success of Number Portability in Ghana. A recent report released by the NCA contains details the success of Number Portability in its first year (see below).

Over 370,000 numbers were successfully ported and Ghana is one of the few African nations to have successfully launched the service in the time that was first set out. It is only the second African country, after Kenya, to achieve this, although Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa have also been working on it for some time.
The overall performance and porting time in Ghana compares pretty favourably against other recent Mobile Number Portability implementations such as Kenya, where it could take 48 hours to port your number, and in India, where porting a mobile number could take up to 7 days.

But why is it so difficult for some countries to implement Number Portability in the time taken? Why do some seem to be able to have a smooth and efficient implementation while others don’t? What are the challenges posed by MNP implementation and why do some countries seem to struggle with these issues more than others?
Is it due to the infrastructure, technology and system upgrades that are needed? Is it more of a political issue? Some say that in countries where democracy is still a relatively new introduction, the introduction of Number Portability can often have political connotations. Some countries have a very involved NRA which really drives and steers the whole process, while others don’t.
What are your opinions and what do you think are the toughest challenges posing new countries that will implement Number Portability soon, such as Azerbaijan, Botswana and Costa Rica?

Number Portability Global Summit – 22-24 October 2012, London, UK. View the Full Agenda.