Imagine A New Sheriff In Town

As we renew or reinvent ourselves for 2015, I wanted to share a case of “imagine if” with you and combine it with the narrative of an American frontier town out West, trying to find a new Sheriff – a Wyatt Earp.  In this case the town is a legacy European communications firm and Wyatt and his brothers are the new managers – the change agents.

management
Is your new management posse driving change?

Here is a positive word upfront.  This operator has had some success in rolling outs broadband internet and IPTV products to residential and business clients to replace its dwindling copper install base.  But they are behind the curve on the wireless penetration side due to the number of smaller, agile MVNOs and two other multi-national operators with a high density of brick-and-mortar stores, excellent brand recognition and support infrastructure.  Having more than a handful of brands certainly did not make this any easier for our CSP.   To make matters even more challenging, price pressure is increasingly squeezing all operators in this market.  The ones able to offset the high-cost Capex for spectrum acquisitions and upgrades with lower-cost Opex for running the network and maximizing subscriber profitability, will set themselves up for success (see one of my earlier posts around the same phenomenon in banking).

Not only did they run every single brand on a separate CRM and billing application (including all the various operational and analytical packages), they also ran nearly every customer-facing-service (CFS) within a brand the same dysfunctional way.  In the end, they had over 60 CRM and the same number of billing applications across all copper, fiber, IPTV, SIM-only, mobile residential and business brands.  Granted, this may be a quite excessive example; but nevertheless, it is relevant for many other legacy operators.

As a consequence, their projections indicate they incur over €600,000 annually in maintaining duplicate customer records (ignoring duplicate base product/offer records for now) due to excessive hardware, software and IT operations.  Moreover, they have to stomach about the same amount for ongoing data quality efforts in IT and the business areas across their broadband and multi-play service segments.

Here are some more consequences they projected:

  • €18.3 million in call center productivity improvement
  • €790,000 improvement in profit due to reduced churn
  • €2.3 million reduction in customer acquisition cost
  • And if you include the fixing of duplicate and conflicting product information, add another €7.3 million in profit via billing error and discount reduction (which is inline with our findings from a prior telco engagement)

Despite major business areas not having contributed to the investigation and improvements being often on the conservative side, they projected a 14:1 return ratio between overall benefit amount and total project cost.

Coming back to the “imagine if” aspect now, one would ask how this behemoth of an organization can be fixed.  Well, it will take years but without management (in this case new managers busting through the door), this organization has the chance to become the next Rocky Mountain mining ghost town.

Busting into the cafeteria with new ideas & looking good while doing it?
Busting into the cafeteria with new ideas & looking good while doing it?

The good news is that this operator is seeing some management changes now.  The new folks have a clear understanding that business-as-usual won’t do going forward and that centralization of customer insight (which includes some data elements) has its distinct advantages.  They will tackle new customer analytics, order management, operational data integration (network) and next-best-action use cases incrementally. They know they are in the data, not just the communication business.  They realize they have to show a rapid succession of quick wins rather than make the organization wait a year or more for first results.  They have fairly humble initial requirements to get going as a result.

You can equate this to the new Sheriff not going after the whole organization of the three, corrupt cattle barons, but just the foreman of one of them for starters.  With little cost involved, the Sheriff acquires some first-hand knowledge plus he sends a message, which will likely persuade others to be more cooperative going forward.

What do you think? Is new management the only way to implement drastic changes around customer experience, profitability or at least understanding?

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