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.


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.

Is WiFi going to win out over small cells as the best option for offloading?

September 26, 2012


Offloading to WiFi networks is expected to grow 16-fold between 2011 and 2016, according to market research consultancy iGR.  We all know that operators are desperately looking for ways to provide their customers with high-Small Cell & Wi-Fi Offloading Strategiesquality, reliable data whilst relieving congestion on their macro networks, and are looking at either WiFi or small cells to achieve this.


But, considering that WiFi offloading is predominantly driven by users manually choosing a WiFi connection rather than their mobile broadband connection, is this increase really likely to happen?  According to iGR, it will if a move is made to operator-driven offloading in which the mobile operator actively switches 3G or 4G traffic to a WiFi network.  But to make this work, operators need the right equipment in both the network and the handsets.


So how realistic is this 16-fold increase?  And will operators prefer to invest in WiFi rather than small cells?  These key questions are being addressed at the Small Cell and WiFi Offloading Strategies event in December.  Find out the pros and cons of using either small cells or WiFi as a sustainable offloading solution and how you can deploy it quickly and effectively without disrupting your network.


When it’s all about providing seamless connectivity and a great customer experience, where would you put your money: WiFi or small cells?

Small Cell & Wi-Fi Offloading Strategies: 3-5 December 2012.

View the updated Final agenda or request one at

5 Top Tips to Capitalise on Big Data!

September 20, 2012

Big Data Monetisation in Telecoms“In a challenging economic climate with strong price competition, using data to provide a highly personalised customer experience is key to ensuring customer loyalty,” says general manager of customer analytics and interaction at Pitney Bowes Software, Chris Lowther. 

The organisation has released five tips for retailers looking to capitalise on big data and they are 5 top tips that we think can be transferred to any industry – particularly for telecoms operators:

  1. Collect information for the future. You might not be ready to act on a data strategy yet but it is time for all to start preparing for a more personalised future.
  2. Empower employees. Data is not just for the marketing department, but can be used to help staff interact with customers on a daily basis and prevent them from making the same mistake more than once.
  3. Trace your customers’ purchase history.  Collect information about what is purchased, but also collect information about how it was purchased in order to improve customers experience and assist with cross selling.
  4. Win back opt-outs. Employees empowered with data to identify opt-outs can gather valuable information on why the customer opted out, and create new opportunities to reinitiate communication with customers.
  5. Track where customers are shopping. If someone only ever shops online, then sending them a store voucher could be a waste of time and money and is likely to end up in the bin, the report argues.

It is clear that retailers must get their data in order if they want to stay head of the game and it is now dawning on telecoms operators that the same is true for them.  Just how can they source, collect and exploit the valuable data that they need to increase revenues and enhance the customer experience?

Big Data Monetisation in Telecoms: 22-24 January 2013. View the draft agenda.

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.

EU to implement new roaming price caps from July 1st and increase competition

March 29, 2012

Telecoms operators will have to rethink their roaming strategies after the EU announced yesterday that it will implement new roaming pricing caps to ensure that customers are paying fair prices when abroad.

The new pricing structure, which comes into effect from July 1st 2012, sees calls capped at 24p a minute, 8p per text message and 70p per MB of data. The EU is also keen to increase competition within the market with virtual mobile network operators gaining the immediate right to access other operator networks at regulated wholesale prices in order to provide roaming services to their customers.

Neelie KroesNeelie Kroes, the European Commission’s vice president for the Digital Agenda, welcomed the announcement of these new roaming caps, saying: “Consumers are fed up with being ripped off by high roaming charges,” she said. “The new roaming deal gives us a long-term structural solution, with lower prices, more choice and a new smart approach for data and internet browsing.”

It is anticipated that the added competition within the market with aim to bring roaming prices down even further. In addition, as the use of smartphones abroad increases at an exponential rate, from 2014 it is expected that users will only have to pay 17p per MB of data used. Moreover, when customers travel outside of the EU they will now also get a warning if their data bills exceed £50. This is expected to eradicate ‘bill shock’ whereby background applications crunch through data while the user is abroad running up huge phone bills and is welcomed by operators, small businesses and leading consumer advice websites.

However, while operators are welcoming the news announced by the EU yesterday, they could be forgiven for secretly hoping that the addition of increased competition will see the end of pricing caps by 2014. Additionally, with customers allowed the choice of swapping their network while abroad, this will see a huge dent in revenues which the operator will rely on in lieu of higher roaming prices.

So what innovations will we see come to the forefront of the back of these caps as operators aim to drive profitability from roaming? 4G? Mobile Payments? M2M services? Let us know what you think below or on twitter @TelecomsForum.

These ideas, issues, solutions and more will be discussed at Telecoms IQ’s Roaming Strategies in June – just before the roaming caps come into effect. Hear from Europe’s operators, regulators and the European Commission on the impending caps and discuss and exchange innovative ideas in order to maximise profitability.

For more information on Roaming Strategies, visit

Roaming Strategies