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.

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.

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.

Mobily and STC launch first commercial LTE networks in the Middle East

September 14, 2011

Saudi Telecom Company (STC) and Mobily have become the first operators in the Middle East to commercially deploy LTE networks.

The operators, which announced the deployment within a day of each other, have said that their LTE networks will be double the speed of the previous 3G networks and is designed around the growth in mobile data, not voice calls.

Saudi Arabia’s mobile phone penetration is the third highest in the world at 188% with the majority crunching through a vast amount of mobile data, making the migration to LTE an integral move for both of the operators who, between them, account for 80% of Saudi’s mobile subscribers.

LTE Deployment Strategies

Speaking ahead of the launch, Said Jamil bin Abdullah Al-Melhem, president of STC, commented: ‘The company continues its pioneering role, and its ongoing quest to provide the most services and the latest and highest international standards. And today [STC] offers the latest mobile communication networks, 4G LTE. The information revolution is coming and to provide a quantum leap in the speed of data transfer – wherever the client – to reach to top speeds of 100Mbps’.

Mobily confirmed on launch yesterday that their LTE coverage will exceed 32 cities and towns in Saudi Arabia by mid October including the capital Riyadh, which represents 85% of the most populated areas.

STC will be speaking about their commercial LTE deployment and Telecoms IQ’s LTE Deployment Strategies conference taking place in London in November. If you would like to view the full speaker line up and secure your place, please visit the event website.