Our client, a U.S. telecom, cable, and Internet provider, was seeking to improve customer satisfaction ratings where they ranked low in an already low-ranked industry. The need to improve their customers’ experience was gaining urgency due to the rise of competitive disrupters such as satellite TV and streaming providers like Hulu and Netflix.
The company’s poor customer satisfaction levels, measured by Net Promoter Score (NPS), were leaving them more vulnerable to external competition and churn was on the rise. While they knew that they were not performing, they were not confident in their understanding of their customers’ specific pain points. In addition, the company faced the internal pressures of a very margin-driven business. The steps to improve customer satisfaction would have to be undertaken with a limited budget. They tapped CMG for a solution that would balance the need to improve their customer satisfaction, by measuring NPS, while protecting margins.
When working with clients on customer experience, we go to the source. That means we conduct in-depth customer interviews, travel with installation reps, listen to customer calls, and audit marketing, sales, and operations. Sometimes the problems in customer experience can be traced to a policy or culture that only indirectly works with customers. We like to say that customer experience is rooted in the very DNA of a company.
Our approach to the solution was to find a balance that would have an impact on NPS while addressing financial concerns. To make the most of the solution, our goals were threefold:
- Investigate and understand the root cause of customer dissatisfaction and identify specific pain points
- Understand potential treatments for the causes of dissatisfaction
- Prioritize treatments to address pain points based on cost/benefit assessment
Our investigation into this company’s customer experiences revealed a number of challenges that could be addressed with improved understanding, operations, and treatment of the customer.
There was a delicate balance with this project. The company required both improvement in customer satisfaction and margin protection. In this light, CMG recommended a three-phase approach weighted toward in-depth investigation to identify the specific areas of dissatisfaction. By addressing the most acute pain points, incremental improvements in customer satisfaction should have a high impact. The phases were as follows:
1. Customer analysis & sample market profiling
The team put together a program of quantitative and qualitative investigation. They analyzed subscriber and satisfaction survey data and conducted interviews with employees across the organization. The goal was to identify key insights into drivers of customer dissatisfaction. Based on this research, CMG developed potential treatments to individually or collectively address the drivers of low scores in customer satisfaction.
2: Pilot program development
Based on this careful research, the team designed a number of test-and-learn trial programs to improve customer experience. The implementation planning involved development of a playbook of critical operational activities to guide in-market tests and understand keys to success.
3: Launch & test treatments
They launched a treatment to establish the company’s “empathetic frontline.” In a small region, CMG trained technicians to improve their customer interactions. Technicians had their daily service quotas reduced to allow them to spend more time with customers and walk them carefully through steps to install services or fix problems. This short 4-week trial was then measured for its impact on NPS.
The upfront research by the client and CMG identified key areas ripe for improvement. With client input, CMG prioritized a high-impact treatment that also protected revenue. The program trial was designed to address the quality of technician visits for both installing the service, and for service calls. The trial, which lasted just four weeks, resulted in a 7% increase in the company’s NPS ratings. The company also gained significant insights into other areas with potential for meaningful improvement.
- Prioritize Internet service – customer satisfaction scores were tied tightly to the customer’s perception of Internet speed and reliability.
- Develop an empathetic frontline – responsiveness to customer problems is almost directly correlated to overall satisfaction, sympathy with subscribers’ frustration is often as important as issue resolution.
- Build on a strong start – research revealed that customers start out satisfied but shift over time. Protecting a positive foundation with ongoing customer touch points will help reinforce a positive perception and loyalty over time.
- Manage internal customer misconceptions – educating employees about their customers can be a factor in improving service delivery. For example, despite an internal belief that urban customers were more demanding, there was no quantitative difference between rural and high-density areas.
The goal was to improve our client’s Net Promoter Score while controlling expenses. CMG’s trial program improved the company’s NPS rating by 7% after just a four-week trial period.”