Delivering personal experiences that count

Gareth Turpin, Sales Director, O2

I recently spoke at an event run by the CCA as part of its Visionaries series which looks at customer service in the digital age. It gave me the opportunity to pause and reflect on the evolution of customer service since I joined O2.

In my twenty years at the company, I’ve been lucky enough to see, and be part of, the changing dynamics in sales and customer service; the shifting demands of our customers and how they want to interact with us.

Over those years, like many other businesses, we’ve built a strong base of processes, KPIs and policies to keep our customer service engine functioning smoothly. But as with all processes we need to question how they translate to the service being received by each customer personally. Which leads to a core contradiction in the way we work with our customers:

How do we deliver from many to one?

How do we effectively manage an experience for the many that delivers for the one? On the one hand, we’re dealing with customer service at scale and it makes sense to talk about averages to run an efficient business. But on the other, our customers only care about their individual experience, not a global average.

Now that’s not to say we want to make the process less efficient; without a well-functioning customer service organisation there’s no chance of delivering great experiences. But if you focus on the averages it’s impossible to deliver a truly personalised service. Focusing on the absolute means you forget the edge cases.

At O2 we have a purpose that we set out for all our people; make every day better through personal experiences that count. I can say hand on heart that every single person in our front line comes to work trying to deliver that. And it’s my job to help them do that. To make sure our advisers are motivated and that they have the tools to deliver for our customers.

We want to empower our people to take ownership and initiative without breaking the system by incentivising outcomes over business rules and processes. Our advisors are focussed on resolving the customer issue, no matter what it takes. Because ultimately customers will reward the service that truly puts them first.

In order to deepen our understanding of what our customers need and want from us we recently created our Customer Journey function; an atlas at the heart of our system, capturing customer journeys. This ensures we focus on individual journeys instead of inflexible policies and processes.

Mapping out these customer journeys means we better understand what our customers are trying to achieve, what goals they are trying to fulfil and how easy or hard it is for them to actually reach them. Our atlas makes it easier for us to direct customers to the right help quickly, and since its introduction we’ve reduced overall complaints by 13%, and network complaints specifically by 29%.

The challenge for Customer Service when you’re part of a customer centric organisation has always been a world of contradictions. Unfortunately, I don’t have all the answers. But, at O2 we’re always open to hearing from others. If there is anything else you think we could be doing to help, then get in touch and let us know.