How telecoms firms should select their CX tech partners

CX Network speaks with Gautam Borah, vice-president of customer operations at Vodafone Idea Ltd. India, who offers his advice to decision-makers within the telecoms space on how to select customer experience (CX) technology vendors and why businesses should trust their own decision-making mechanisms

Ben Watts

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Customer experience management technology

Gautam Borah knows only too well the perils facing telecoms companies when it comes to selecting CX technology vendors.

 Speaking exclusively to CX Network, Vodafone Idea Ltd.’s India’s vice-president of customer operations advises telecoms decision-makers to ensure they do not fit their businesses into a technology – “it has to be the other way around”.

 “Don't fit your business into the technology,” Borah remarks. “Instead, define the metrics, create an operating model and make sure the employees responsible possess the right skill set and a digital mind set.”

CXN Live: Customer Experience for Telecoms

Join on the April 14 and 15, 2020 as we examine how telecom operators can increase customer engagement and stickiness, lower overheads and maximise profits in a crowded market.

 In qualifying his advice, Borah cites a prior experience from an earlier assignment where his company had to select a solution for recording calls, with the ability to handle a large volume of approximately 50 million calls a month.

 “For this, we set out a criteria consisting of three abilities,” he explains. The first point of this criteria related to the ability of each solution to handle a huge volume and select the right sample size.

 The second ability focused on the type of analytics built around the solution. On this, Borah asked if the solution would provide the right insights into the customer, such as picking up certain terms that could point toward the potential for churn.

 The third – and most important point – says Borah, was that it linked to a business metric and that it is pertinent to the current business model and economic climate within which the business operates.

“We selected a metric which was repeat calls and looked at how many times the customer is calling you back to enquire about the same problem,” he remarks. “Because that focused on number of calls, it was a direct business metric.”

 Trust your own business sense

 Using the criteria, his company was able to compile a shortlist of three vendors which it placed into the proof-of-concept (POC) phase, all while continuing to be open with its potential partners.

 “We told them to carry out the POC for three months and outlined the criteria we were going to use,” Borah notes.

 The two remaining vendors on the shortlist were placed in parallel, but separate locations, with the results after three months helping the organization to select its preferred vendor.

 Borah’s leading piece of advice for any decision-maker is to make sure you are not looking to implement a technology because you have been influenced by a competitor’s decision. 

 “I call it ‘being influenced by neighbors’,” he says. “It’s as if a neighbor has bought a car, so you also want to buy a car – when you don't need it!”

 Instead, Borah advises that rather than fitting your business to a technological solution, you should assess the kind of solution you require at a specific stage in the customer lifecycle.

Enforcing a decision-making strategy

Discussing decision-making throughout the telecoms industry, Borah believes there are four stakeholders that should be involved in any CX investment decision-making process.

 “The first is the functional owner – the CX leader – because this person knows the requirements,” he remarks. “The second is the IT team, because they know how to implement the solution, the third is the CFO and [in some cases] the fourth is the CEO depending on the quantum of investment.”

 To ensure the process works and in order to refine it, Borah says the functional owner must be responsible for shortlisting any vendors and their solutions, before involving IT who will provide validation for a solution by ensuring it works. At this stage, any unviable solutions can be discounted, refining the shortlist.

 Following the POC, a business case should be made, which is shared with the CEO / CFO or a committee that takes final business decisions, who can then assign budget.

 “Selecting a technology vendor is a journey comprising many hurdles,” Borah notes. “Especially so in the highly competitive and high-volume telecoms vertical.

 “Select the wrong vendor and your competition stands to gain,” he warns. “Pick the right partner and the results can lead to an increase in market share.”

To hear more from Borah and other leading CX practitioners tune into CXN Live: APAC Online 2020 this March.

Photo by Shane Aldendorff from Pexels

CXN Live: Customer Experience for Telecoms

Join on the April 14 and 15, 2020 as we examine how telecom operators can increase customer engagement and stickiness, lower overheads and maximise profits in a crowded market.


Gautam Borah
Author and Speaker, Vice President Customer Operation
Vodafone Idea Ltd