Don’t go chasing waterfalls, be Agile

Telcos are often large, complex organisations where change doesn’t happen easily. However, the landscape is shifting; customer needs are rapidly evolving, driven by new technologies and the broader digital revolution. As a result, Telco businesses need to be able to respond quickly and effectively to get ahead of the customer expectation curve. So how can Agile enable you to stay ahead of the game?

A 30 second introduction to Agile

Today Agile is known as a software development methodology, but it is more than this. It is a project management methodology, which emerged from the manufacturing industry, and has been widely adopted in software production during the late 90s. It has since transformed software development and is now being applied across all business areas to deliver change.

Agile is built around the ‘Build, Measure, Learn’ cycle – putting the emphasis on the time it takes to move through that cycle. Agile states that the quicker you can build and release a product, measure its success, and learn for the next iteration, the faster you can build the products and services that meet their needs. This rapid, iterative cycle allows teams to reduce waste, adapt to changing needs, focussing teams’ value-producing practices, as they work on the immediate priority for the customer.

Remaining Agile in a changing landscape is crucial to staying ahead

Telcos exist in dynamic, changing landscapes, and seismic events such as Brexit can drastically impact business priorities. The key to success in today’s world may not be how accurately you can deliver against your 5-year plan but how quickly you can adapt to shifting goalposts. ‘Box’, a leading software company[1], recently announced that with the long-term outlook currently an unknown, strategy should focus on ‘winning individual battles rather than the war.’ Agile allows businesses to manage and respond quickly to this uncertainty, stay ahead of the competition and win the battles.

A way to kick-start customer service transformation

Customer service is a key battlefield for Telcos. They are no longer simply providers of mobile and fixed networks. With Quad play, single providers now offer combined mobile, broadband, TV/content and fixed line services. With this growing complexity comes more opportunities for error and poor customer experiences, while the digital revolution has driven customer expectations up across the board. These two factors have created a perfect storm.

The perfect storm has resulted in customer service becoming a bugbear for most Telco businesses. Customers now expect a consistent customer experience across all the channels they use, whether over the phone, via social media or in shops. A McKinsey & Company study[2] of 27,000 consumers found that a consistent customer experience increases customer satisfaction, builds trust and boosts loyalty. In order to attract new customers and keep their current ones, Telcos are finding that they constantly need to respond and react to their customers’ evolving demands. Agile will allow them to do this.

One of the UK’s largest Telcos is currently working on a number of initiatives to improve customer satisfaction and wider service perception. Agile methodologies are now central to their customer transformation programmes. Teams collate requests from customers, prioritise and rapidly ‘white board’ improvements using rapid prototyping to test new ideas and designs. Solutions, which can be an app update, a new customer pathway, or even as small as a different greeting, are built quickly and tested immediately. Success can then be measured through customer activity and feedback and the team learns whether or not the change has been successful. This approach has allowed them to identify and respond to problems faster, and make continuous iterations to their customer service. The team has leveraged Agile and can quickly respond to new priorities without affecting the productivity of the team. It also ensures teams are always working on the current priority from a customer service perspective.

Stay agile, stay ahead and win

Telco businesses are starting to use Agile to transform how their business operates, allowing them to learn, build and measure faster. Its applications range from developing digital customer portals to designing routers that can be posted through letterboxes. Now Agile needs to be more widely adopted across the business, as it will be a key winning tactic on the customer service battleground. It will allow you to rapidly iterate and improve the customer service experience; and the sum of battles won, will enable you to win the war.

[1] https://www.boxuk.com/insight/blog-posts/two-months-post-brexit-why-we-need-agile-now-more-than-ever

[2] http://www.mckinsey.com/industries/retail/our-insights/the-three-cs-of-customer-satisfaction-consistency-consistency-consistency

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