The telecom industry is under constant pressure to compete while maintaining very high reliability. If your telecom firm has already achieved high performance, what’s next? The answer lies in pursuing continuous improvement goals to improve performance.
Why Does Continuous Improvement Matter in the Telecom Industry?
Telecom companies, resellers, and retailers are competing fiercely to win new customers. As Fortune reported:
Wireless customers have gotten numerous opportunities to lower their bills over the past few months. During the first quarter [of 2017], T-Mobile eliminated added fees and taxes from its unlimited data plans, and Sprint slashed the price of its unlimited plan to just $90 for up to five lines. Meanwhile, Verizon finally caved from the pressure and debuted its unlimited plan, while AT&T cut the price of its unlimited plan and opened it to all customers—not just its paid TV subscribers.
This means that customers will switch to a different provider at the drop of a hat. If you fail to deliver reliable, high-quality calls and data, your customers will move to other providers. Unlike breakthrough innovations which take years to develop, telecom companies can work on continuous improvement projects right now.
Use These Steps to Build Your Continuous Improvement Process
“The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals” by Sean Covey, Chris McChesney, and Jim Huling informed our approach to continuous improvement.
1. Choose One Continuous Improvement Goal
Pull out a copy of the company’s annual goals. If you are a large firm, customer retention may be high on the list. Resist the temptation to choose multiple goals for continuous improvement because focus is critical for making improvements that last.
Tip: Whenever possible, seek a goal that can be traced directly or indirectly through numbers or statistics. That approach makes it easier to find success.
2. Brainstorm Continuous Improvement Measurement Options
If your telecom company wants to improve customer retention, how will you know if you are succeeding? The answer lies in brainstorming a list of ideas. Here are a few possibilities to get you started:
- Customer Service Wait Times. If customers are kept waiting too long, they are more likely to leave the company.
- Customer Appreciation Tracking. What programs and activities do you have in place to track and reward customers? Some companies, like Virgin Mobile, have reward programs to encourage customer loyalty.
- Problem Resolution Satisfaction. Even with the best people and technology, you will have problems. Measuring your effectiveness at resolving problems may merit a closer look.
- Net Promoter Score. This widely used system is a popular way to measure customer satisfaction in telecom, banking, and other industries.
3. Choose 1 Lead Indicator that Predicts Success
Based on the ideas you generated in the above step, it is time to come up with a few key points to track and measure success. Ultimately, you are seeking to retain a higher percentage of your customers.
However, the percentage of customers retained is only reported after the month or quarter is over. That is why you need to focus on lead indicators: measures that you can control and which predict success.
In the sales context, here is an example of a lead indicator and how it connects to your goal:
- Lead Indicator: number of in-person meetings held with Finance VPs at Fortune 1000 companies
- Goal: sales of finance software upgrades
4. Create a Form to Track Continuous Improvement
With your goal and lead indicator in mind, you can create a process to track continuous improvement progress. Consider creating a form to record your findings. Keep in mind that you will be asking staff to complete the form on a daily or weekly basis. Therefore, it should be simple and easy to complete.
Using a mobile or digital form will make it easier for employees to complete and give you access to data about your progress faster.
Tip: Keep your form to 3-5 questions or less because that amount of information is easy to read on any device, including smart phones.
5. Carry Out a Pilot Test of the Continuous Improvement Process with One Department
Time to test your process!
Meet with one department, preferably one that has direct customer interactions, to review your process and have them use the new form for a few weeks. When these processes are developed by managers, it is easy to lose sight of the pressures that front-line service reps have to manage.
After a few weeks, use a survey or in-person meeting to gather feedback from the department. Consider offering a random draw prize such as a gift card to encourage feedback on the form.
6. Measure Results and Improve the Process
At this stage, you will have a continuous improvement process that is working in the field. If you can show improvement to your ultimate goal (e.g., increasing customer retention by 1% quarter over quarter), it will be easy to win support from other departments.
Use mobile forms to make achieving your goals easier. Learn how to get started.