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Mining CX conversation gold

By Elizabeth Akass, Editor, Engage Business Media

Sky Spain explains the five steps to encouraging positive and productive internal customer experience conversation, and the challenges this helps to overcome.

In a time when customers have several quality options for their OTT (over the top and internet-based) television services, providers need to think outside of box to stay ahead of the competition. British telecommunications company Sky boasts 24 million customers across seven European countries, with 31,000 total employees. Launched in September 2017, Sky Spain is the newest addition to the Sky Group and provides live paid TV channels and a video on-demand library of season box sets and movies.

Nick Macfarlane, Head of Customer Experience at Sky Spain, introduces the company further: “We have always tried to do things slightly differently and act like a bit of a start-up in the bigger Sky organisation. That’s certainly given me the opportunity to do customer experience in a way that I have always wanted to. It’s been a great journey and we’re learning a lot in a challenging market. It’s a good time to be in OTT television right now.”

Macfarlane continues to explain that he believes the contact centre is the ‘nucleus’ of customer experience. “I have always felt that the people in the contact centre know so much – they have so much information back from customers,” he says. “Often people think that they just deal with the complaints, but I firmly believe that in the contact centres you hear so much more than that. It’s the personable moments and bits of information that your staff who are actually speaking with your customers hear that can give you valuable insight into what your customers think of your business. It’s all about capturing that and turning it into something useful.”

He says that many call listening initiatives and text analytics are done in the contact centre to measure how to effectively improve employee performance. “For me, it’s such a resource – it gives us the ability to tap into and understand what our customers are saying and how they feel. We track emotion, what they like and dislike, what their effort is in using your service. Relaying that back to the whole organisation is really valuable.”

Furthermore, Macfarlane describes the five key elements to ‘mining CX conversation gold’ that he has found in his three and a half years of leading the CX function for Sky Spain. The first is creating a CX conversation culture: “It’s about creating an environment where your front-line staff don’t feel they are pushed on every last second and need to get the calls done as quickly as possible. It’s about encouraging them to see their role as real people helping and advising other real people, and having great human conversations around whatever it may be. That is where you get that rich insight.”

“A CX conversation culture also flows onto how you talk about what your customers say, do, and feel across the rest of the organisation. We have built a very interactive top-level view of all of these pieces of information from these great conversations which allow our whole teams to talk about customer experience. That’s the customer conversation culture that I’m trying to establish.”

The second is checking your assumptions at the door. “Often when we are thinking about customer problems in business, we know our own product too well or we assume too quickly that we know how to fix customer issues. However, if you start listening to the small details and go deep into what your customers are saying you can build a far clearer picture of what is and isn’t going well. This means you can react to the important things and really take a step forward in making their overall experience better.”

The third is that content is king. “This phrase is well-known in the TV and media industries, but I use it in a slightly different context. When giving our many different stakeholders across our organisation this rich customer insight, we have to make it engaging and give them a reason to want to interact with it and read it. You can’t expect them to read or get value from a spreadsheet mined straight out of your CRM system.”

“We very much think of ourselves as the curators, or the publishers, of customer experience content. With that in mind, everything that we send out looks beautiful and is targeted at a specific audience with key headlines that make them want to read it.” He says that in CX one cannot just be the ‘postman’ and deliver the content without being part of it. “We need to make sure people get it, they want to interact with it, and they’ll do something with it.”

The fourth element is to keep it human: “There’s a lot of talk about customer experience and what it means. It often means different things to different organisations, or even different people within an organisation, you have to be able to explain that,” he says. “It goes back to real people understanding real people’s thoughts on what you’re trying to do, and really just trying to make their lives better when they interact with your service. We try to put a human touch on everything we do.” Macfarlane notes that this includes incorporating photos and quotes from his team in customer surveys to progress this more personable relationship.

The final point is to keep it simple: “We use a very simple four step model, which is: Listen, Interpret, Act, and Monitor. We’ve set ourselves a target this year of 15 insights being actioned and monitored, which therefore demonstrates real value off the back of our CX work.” He says that this has been a success and ensured that these goals are achieved.

Additionally, Macfarlane discusses that the biggest challenge Sky Spain faces today in regards to customer engagement is ensuring it is providing the content that everyone is talking about, as most customers choose between a Sky, Netflix, or Amazon Prime subscription based on the content provided readily on each service. He says: “Big shows are what people come to and stay on your platform for.”

Macfarlane emphasises further the importance of building and maintaining a human relationship with customers to overcome this challenge. He highlights Sky Spain’s most recent marketing campaign, ‘La Buena TV’ as a success story in this effort. “This positioned us as the TV service you can trust, the one that’s got your back, the one that offers you total transparency and tries to make your life easier,” he says. “This makes people want to stay with you because they like and trust you. We want to provide a range of shows on our one platform so our customers don’t feel the need to look elsewhere, and enable our customers to dip in and out when they want to because they feel they can.”

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