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The voice of customers. A new platform provides customer feedback in real time

Customer feedback is essential for Deutsche Telekom to continuously develop products, services and service quality. A new platform asks all customers for their feedback every time they come into contact with Deutsche Telekom.

“Thank you for your quick help and the great service,” Ms D. is very pleased and awards top marks in the customer survey. The sales agent gets in touch with her by phone after one or two days, thanks her for her feedback and finishes the call jovially, saying: “Please do get in touch with me if there is anything I can do for you.” This dialogue demonstrates customer centricity and a new way of dealing with customer feedback. The Center Strategic Projects (CSP), together with the European Division of Deutsche Telekom AG, has taken customer surveys to a new level. A modern, digital “Voice of Our Customers” platform was introduced for this purpose.

Giving customers a voice

Individual customer experiences offer great learning potential for service staff as well as for those responsible for products or processes. They make us more aware of service gaps, process disruptions or product flaws. This is why they should not get lost in the aggregated data. The new platform gives as many customers as possible an individual voice.

Service technician talks to the customer couple on the doorstep

The goal is to have an even more complete picture of the customer.

Collecting customer feedback is nothing new for Deutsche Telekom: Today, the European Telekom branches do this particularly with regard to individual contacts (transactions), such as when a customer makes a purchase in a shop, when a technician visits a customer or when a service employee talks to a customer. In the future, however, the goal is to have an even more complete picture of the customer: Digital channels, such as websites or the service app, interactions with employees or bots in chats. Especially entire customer journeys will become more important, such as the purchasing process: gathering information, ordering, receiving delivery and activating the product. In addition, customers will also be asked about their experiences without any specific interaction - for example, because they have been Deutsche Telekom customers for a long time or have a specific product for which Telekom would like to obtain customer feedback.

An important element of these feedback processes is a survey that is sent to customers following an interaction with Deutsche Telekom. They are surveyed via SMS, an online survey or the service app itself. In the future, customers will also be able to provide feedback via informal video messages. Especially for younger people, this is the preferred method of contact, as they are used to it through their experiences with social media and video chats.

It is not just about collecting data, it is about helping customers

The aggregated feedback creates a database with valuable insights into customer satisfaction and product or service quality. Since the platform works in near-real time, the data is immediately available to every single employee at Deutsche Telekom; no matter whether they are board members, product managers or service employees. They can see all the latest information in special dashboards and are thus always up to date on what is currently driving customers – in other words, they always have their finger on the pulse of the customer.

The new platform democratizes data, all employees can hear the voice of customers and better understand their experiences. But it is not just about that. An important aspect of the new platform is also the ability to deduce specific actions to improve the customer experience. These actions start with callbacks, where trained service staff try to better understand and, if possible, solve customers' problems. It is important that the insights gained from the calls are documented, so that they do not end up somewhere in a drawer: The service employees should talk about the customer feedback in regular team meetings and reflect on what they themselves can contribute to satisfy customers. Service managers also have a responsibility in this regard. One-on-one coaching sessions between team leaders and service employees enable an individual development process that also takes the customer feedback the employee receives into account.

Headset on the desk

Those responsible for products or processes are expected to stay close to customers.

Good or bad customer feedback is part of this process. If a customer gives negative feedback on an interaction, an alarm is triggered and immediately forwarded to the responsible service employee. This person then contacts the customer within 48 hours, asks about the reasons for his or her dissatisfaction and tries to find a solution. They then document and analyse the conversation. The feedback concept stipulates that each employee calls at least two dissatisfied customers per week and then analyses the different conversations. This does not only apply to operational service staff: top executives as well as those responsible for products or processes are also expected to stay close to customers via these calls and hear their feedback first-hand. This is the only way to create a new way of thinking and action that puts the customer at the centre of everything the teams do.

Feedback improves products and processes

In cases where a service employee cannot help a customer even after a callback is made because the problem is a structural one, the documented insights from the callback are used as a starting point for a “root cause analysis”. In this case, product and process managers will compare these insights with other data (e.g. network quality, the version number of the customer's router) to determine the reasons for his or her dissatisfaction. If this is the case, the customer benefits from improved products or processes.

In addition, the platform can automatically analyse and categorize customer feedback. Automatic text recognition technology (text analytics), for example, helps to identify customers who are willing to switch. Further applications of advanced analytics also make it possible to predict the churn probability. The integration of social media, such as Facebook, is also planned for the future as it is a great source for customer feedback. People who are dissatisfied react there in a much more spontaneous and straightforward manner than in a survey.

The “Voice of Our Customer” platform will even allow customers to collaborate on future innovations. They can suggest new products, additional services or certain functions in Deutsche Telekom's software and hardware. This enables a development process that is based on the actual needs of the customer - an important aspect of customer-centric companies.

Customer centricity in the digital age

The new platform gives all employees a comprehensive picture of our customers’ opinion and satisfaction. It enables them to take immediate action, thereby showing customers that employees are keen to serve them. This is the basis for real, lived customer centricity in the digital age. “This shows that the customer experience is a key part of the new EU strategy,” says Melanie Güse, Head of Customer Experience in Telekom Europe. “And since our joint project is about feedback: thank you very much to the CSP team for their excellent support.”