CEO Blog: Building a Culture of Excellence

When it comes down to choosing a service provider, there are many things to consider – from product features and technology platforms to contract terms and pricing. But at the end of the day, what does it all really boil down to? At Telia Carrier, after many years spent asking our customers for feedback, we have learnt that the single most important differentiator in the connectivity business is actually the overall customer experience.

In a commoditized market, once you look past our advanced technology and extensive network reach, what sets us apart from our competitors is really how much our customers enjoy working with us. In a recent survey, we discovered that only half of enterprise business leaders felt they had a great customer experience from their network providers. This is a fairly disheartening revelation, alluding to the fact that while CX may seem simple, it can be hard to get right. Great CX starts with a strong company culture, the humility to realize that your customers are more important than you and a relentless drive to do things better.

How do we measure ourselves?

At Telia Carrier, we believe that the difference between us and other providers lies in the way we simplify connectivity for our customers – in more than 120 countries. The numbers speak for themselves: our most recent Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 44, for 2020, reflects our obsession with understanding how our customers perceive us. ‘Culture and Attitude’ scored highest when compared to other companies, followed by ‘Action Oriented and Responsiveness’ (close to 80 percent of customer tickets are resolved during the first call). We were also best-in-class for Network Quality.

Improvements to our NPS score, as well as as reduction in Mean Time to Resolution (MTTR) and increased First Call Resolution (FCR) rates, are important parameters in the pursuit of continuous improvement. When we first conducted a comprehensive NPS survey in 2012, our score was 17. By acting on customer feedback and asking them directly what improvements they would like to see, we have seen consistent NPS improvement ever since. Despite the challenges of 2020, we have still managed to deliver strong performance overall.

How do we address CX?

Sales, delivery, and incident resolution processes are the primary factors that move the needle when it comes to improving customer experience, so we started there.

In the sales process, one of our key priorities was to allow customers to interact with us on their own terms. Customers can opt for self-service through our online portal, but if they want to engage with our solutions team, we also have service managers available to help them.

For many telcos, service delivery is where customer experience begins to falter. We’ve structured our delivery organization by customer segment, allowing us to respond to the specific business needs of different verticals. And this continues long after service implementation, when dedicated delivery coordinators strive to understand individual customer needs, before working to optimize lead times and logistics. Once services are live, we offer customers full visibility of their ongoing deliveries, service performance, usage statistics as well as planned works – either through our web portal or service APIs.

When incidents happen, as they inevitably do in all networks, we take full ownership of a problem. To ensure the fastest possible resolution times, Telia Carrier empowers its Customer Support Representatives (CSRs) – of whom more than 90% are university graduates in technology, with extensive training and the best issue-resolution tools – including a self-learning, AI-based troubleshooting system. This allows them to quickly identify the cause of a problem and identify the best solution to resolve it. Empowered and highly skilled CSRs are also better equipped to help customers at the first point of contact.

It is about the people

Ultimately, successful CX is built on a culture that promotes a sense of ownership for everyone in the organization. From the bottom up, employees are encouraged to take customer experience into their own hands – because at the end of the day, CX is all about people. Customers want real relationships with real people who value them, understand their goals and concerns, and can respond quickly, clearly and honestly.

And that honesty extends to prospective clients. If we are not the right fit, we will let them know. We don’t oversell our abilities but believe that it’s far better to stay true to our capabilities. We avoid simply focusing on short-term gains at the expense of long-lasting and rewarding relationships.

In our company, customer empathy and communication are a key part of our recruitment process. Customer satisfaction is celebrated and key CX metrics, together with individual performance measurements, are tied directly to incentive targets. This ensures the entire organization is consistently aligned to our core values and culture.

What impact did the pandemic have on CX?

The societal importance of connectivity has never been clearer. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated to us that people can work virtually anywhere and feel empowered while doing so. Our own teams went the extra mile, without us having to even ask them and giving us an enormous sense of pride in the process.

In many ways, the pandemic exposed the true meaning of leadership – both good and bad. It’s even clearer now how important good management, consistency and empowerment are for a great customer experience, and ultimately, a successful company. If your employees feel proud to get up and start work in the morning, they will share it with your customers.

Customer excellence is at the heart of everything we do, and we want to share our knowledge and experience with everyone. We recently published a new CX guide – providing you with the questions we think you should be asking your connectivity partners. Hopefully, this will help build a future where CX in our industry is no longer a differentiator, but rather a commodity.

By Staffan Göjeryd, CEO, Telia Carrier