3 Questions to Consider to Improve Your Customer Experience Strategy

Interview with the Director Customer Experience, Launch Management and Investment Roadmap at EE about their customer experience strategy and key recommendations for fellow CX leaders.

Max von Trotha is the Director Customer Experience, Launch Management and Investment Roadmap at telecoms company EE. He is in charge of customer experience for new and existing offers and service interactions, the launch of new propositions and devices as well as the prioritisation and delivery of customer facing investments and change projects.

Prior to this, Von Trotha was leading the post-merger integration of Orange and T-Mobile in the UK. In 2009, he was in charge of managing the stand-alone turnaround of T-Mobile UK, yielding a 3 digit million EBITDA improvement in the same year. In 2005 Von Trotha became Vice President Group Strategy at T-Mobile International. He started his career in management consulting with Arthur D. Little.

In this interview for CX Network, Von Trotha talks about the CX strategy at EE following the merger of Orange and T-Mobile in the UK, the execution of the strategy, and he shares key recommendations for CX leaders to help them drive revenue and

Hi Max, first of all can you tell me what your role as Director Customer Experience, Launch Management and Investment Roadmap entails and what your involvement is with EE’s wider customer experience strategy?

I work for EE, the leading mobile operator in the UK, created in 2010 by the merger of Orange and T-Mobile in the UK. Initially, coming out of a merger situation, our business focus was on integrating our systems and our brand. We then launched a new brand and of course the UK’s first 4G network.

With a focus on delivering one of the fastest mobile networks in the world, the customer experience strategy took something of a back seat at first. But in late 2013 we did a strategy review and concluded that we had to do for service what we had achieved for network – and we put in place a long-term plan to be number one for service in UK telecoms.

That is when my role was created, putting me, among others, in charge of Customer Experience Insights & Measurement, Customer Experience Design & Delivery, Business Excellence and the overall management of our customer experience turnaround strategy and transformation programme.

SEE ALSO: CEM in Telecoms: How to Increase Profitability and Build Brand Value Through Enhanced Customer Experience

Based on your learnings, what recommendations would you give any organisation which wants to build a Customer Experience strategy that drives returns?

I think any organisation which considers to substantially improve its customer’s experience should look at three questions first:

1. Are we really willing to put a lot of time, money, energy and management attention into our CX strategy? Because change will not be easy and it will not be quick.

2. What CX maturity does our organisation have today? Where do we stand? What is needed? Is it about fixing the basics or about leveraging a differentiator, keeping the lead vs competition?

3. Does the leadership team, and specifically the CEO, acknowledge that CX is a truly cross-functional topic? You can’t leave it to the Marketing Director, you can’t leave it to the Customer Service Director. Each one has a role to play: If for example IT cannot provide stable systems, this will not work for your customer. If Finance cannot simplify the billing processes this will also not work for your customers.

In what ways do you measure customer experience at EE, and how does it impact on the wider business strategy?

We have put a lot of focus on our CX target setting approach. We first defined an aspirational long-term target, in our case we said we want to become service leader in our industry. Then we defined a KPI framework with a set of achievable though challenging short- to mid-term targets.

This framework is centred around a mix of Net Promotor Scores (NPS), where we measure the customer satisfaction following an interaction or event with our channels (e.g. Customer Service, Retail, App, web) and the overall relationship NPS per key product category (e.g. PAYG).

In addition, we measure customer complaints volumes and the volume of incoming calls from customers.

We have linked the bonus of all employees to NPS targets. Some teams have to perform against a very specific NPS KPI (e.g. NPS of Sales & Service transactions in retail) whereas other functions are targeted on a blended set of KPIs (e.g. IT function).

We have a weekly meeting with the CEO and most other board members to review the performance and key improvement initiatives for these KPIs.

Measuring Customer Experience is one thing, but have you also worked out what a great customer experience should look like for your customers?

I think it is absolutely critical to define, for internal use only, what a good experience for your customers should look like. Is it about being easy to do business with or about delighting customers? And what does that exactly mean? Make it as specific as possible.

Once the business has a clear understanding and can clearly describe what a great customer experience should look like, it is critical to embed these principles in the processes and culture of the organisation and to benchmark existing customer journeys against it.

Finally, how do you execute your customer experience strategy?

When I look at the work we are doing across the business to deliver against our customer experience strategy, I think it is important to get the balance right between different types of initiatives.

One type of initiative aims at removing specific "pain points" along existing customer journeys. To identify those pain points, customer complaints or NPS survey verbatim are a rich source to identify and prioritise issues.

A second focus area for us was improving how we develop and launch new propositions, so that we do not need to fix them later – which is always more painful than getting it right first time.

Furthermore, we are working on end-to-end process improvements (e.g. how do we manage knowledge so that service levels are consistent for customers no matter which channel they use) and have invested in key enablers (e.g. new IT systems and analytical tools).

Last but not least, I think a cultural change initiative is also key if the customer centricity of the organisation needs to be improved. This can include such simple things such as top management visibility at customer facing teams in retail and customer service.