Sim­ple is bet­ter: How to make in­ter­net cus­tomers happy

East African Business Week - - BUSINESS DIGEST - stuff.co.nz

Have you ever con­tacted a cus­tomer call cen­tre and been trans­ferred to per­son, af­ter per­son, af­ter per­son…? When the busi­ness is a provider for a wide range of com­plex prod­ucts, per­haps you just as­sume that the per­son you speak to first won’t have the knowl­edge to an­swer all your ques­tions. But what if there’s a bet­ter way? That’s how Stuff Fi­bre’s Chief of Mar­ket­ing & Cus­tomer, Rob Ti­hanyi, thinks thanks to his 20+ years work­ing in and dis­rupt­ing the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence space. Ti­hanyi places em­pha­sis on ‘ex­pe­ri­ence’ as a mod­ern term - with a merg­ing of the func­tions be­tween mar­ket­ing and cus­tomer ser­vice over the years, driven by a change in the way cus­tomers value busi­nesses. “No busi­ness ever sets out with the de­sire to give their cus­tomers pain,” Ti­hanyi cred­its. “But the funny thing in the busi­ness of com­plex tech­nol­ogy is a lot of ef­fort - and po­ten­tially cost - is of­ten re­quired on be­half of the provider. “What I’ve seen so many times is busi­nesses mak­ing com­pro­mises with a cus­tomer’s ex­pe­ri­ence so that they fit their busi­ness out­comes. “These gains are short-term and while the changes may be minor they’re of­ten in­cre­men­tal, with the ef­fect of shift­ing the ef­fort from the busi­ness to the cus­tomer.” That’s where the phone hot po­tato comes in. Some­where along the line it be­comes too dif­fi­cult to train a front­line staff mem­ber to know every­thing a cus­tomer might need, and eas­ier to de­part­men­talise - thereby shift­ing ef­fort to the cus­tomer, who must fol­low the maze of in­for­ma­tion in­stead. “In some telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions or­gan­i­sa­tions the num­ber of prod­ucts they carry can be in the thou­sands. “That’s an im­pos­si­bly dif­fi­cult po­si­tion to be in when think­ing about how to cre­ate the best cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence you can, and some­thing that I and the rest of the Stuff Fi­bre lead­er­ship team saw as a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity when we first started con­cep­tu­al­is­ing the busi­ness,” says Ti­hanyi. Stuff Fi­bre pro­vides one prod­uct (with some cus­tomis­able add-ons), and that’s very de­lib­er­ate. As a provider of ul­tra-fast broad­band, the team of in­dus­try vet­er­ans en­tered into the highly reg­u­lated in­dus­try with a sin­gle­minded fo­cus: make it eas­ier for Ki­wis to en­joy bet­ter in­ter­net. “The beauty of cre­at­ing Stuff Fi­bre has been the free­dom we’ve been af­forded from not be­ing con­strained by the com­pli­ca­tions of a large telco. It’s fair to say we’ve all rel­ished the speed with which we’ve been able to move as a start-up, and this free­dom in speed and sim­plic­ity is what we want to share with Ki­wis,” says Ti­hanyi. “In de­sign­ing Stuff Fi­bre we con­sid­ered all the things peo­ple love and hate about deal­ing with their in­ter­net ser­vice providers. “If we could elim­i­nate one more field a cus­tomer needed to en­ter, one more click to take, we did. “Every­thing was about re­duc­ing the cus­tomer ef­fort in­volved in get­ting good in­ter­net - and shoul­der­ing that at our end,” Ti­hanyi ex­plains. Their phi­los­o­phy of sim­plic­ity is car­ried through in a cus­tomer’s ex­pe­ri­ence af­ter sign up. The de­ci­sion not to of­fer fixed term con­tracts means cus­tomers have less to do to get signed up and they still have the free­dom to get their in­ter­net some­where else - or turn the ser­vice on and off - at any time if that’s what they want too. Stuff Fi­bre has been open to cus­tomers for just two months, and so far Ti­hanyi’s ap­proach has been keep­ing cus­tomers happy. “The take-home mes­sage is that to­day, be­ing nice to peo­ple isn’t enough for a busi­ness to make their cus­tomers stay. Peo­ple are more ed­u­cated and aware of their op­tions than ever be­fore. “For them to stick with you, you’ve got to be nice - but also give them the best ser­vice you can in the way that’s as easy as pos­si­ble.” And on that note, Ti­hanyi says: “The free­dom is with Ki­wis to make their next move.”

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