This part of the article series discusses the sales & marketing process problems (within telecos), recommended solutions, Agile and Lean Kaizen process improvement strategy to bring telecos marketing & sales up to speed, excel …
Continuing on the SWOT analysis (from part 1), market research highlights few main problems with the sales and marketing processes within telecos namely-
- OTT (over- the- top) players are growing quickly in comparison with traditional fixed and mobile communication services.
- Many years of M&A (mergers and acquisition) have left telecos with disjointed systems that rely on outdated processes.
- 77% of C-level executives from telecos state employee skill-gaps as a hindrance to driving digital transformation.
- Decentralized customer data.
- In-sufficient customer loyalty and appreciation for telecom products & services.
- Sloppy customer care.
- Lack of system updates for fully complying to GDPR and other regulations.
- Not seeing problems from a customer’s perspective.
There are practical challenges to new ways of working- for example- how to reconcile the agile approach with long budget or approval cycles?
‘There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things’
Change especially cultural change doesn’t happen without C-suite buy-in and active use of role models. And it doesn’t really take hold until it is executed at the smallest unit possible to daily operation.
To drive the required radical shift in the way work gets done as well as in a teleco’s technology foundation, buy-in to the program must come from the top. The power of C-level presence and engagement on platforms such as company town halls, internal social portals and even key meetings of the cross-functional teams can’t be overstated. Active championing of progress and learnings/ failures helps to motivate employees to join the journey. Once the transformation is underway C-level buy-in also extends to empowering teams. Without it, agile decision-making cannot happen.
Also, a mind-set change that profit isn’t really profit unless telecos take into account future investment demands and necessary returns to make investments sustainable and stable overtime.
I recommend 9 front solution for making telecos sales and marketing process improvement goal into reality:
1. Build right teams: Choosing the right core team members is crucial. They need to be advocates who exhibit energy, strong curiosity, pragmatism and entrepreneurial spirit within the teams. Moving some of the organization’s best resources into agile squads can be challenging, but it is key to ensuring ownership on subsequent levels, including education and participation in the design and execution stages.
2. Employee training & Anchor hires: The transformation towards next-generation customer engagement requires deep digital talent for a set of new roles such as data architects, marketing and digital advertising specialist. Existing staff probably won’t be able to perform all roles, so training and external recruitment will ne needed. External recruiting will require anchor hires i.e. hire one developer and his/her colleagues will follow.
3. Recruitment process redesign: New recruitment processes via digital networking events, dedicated recruiting days etc. to attract the right prospects. The approach of recruiting itself can also help build a brand and bring in the best people. The types of talent telecos need are attracted to forward-thinking companies, so recruiting culture matters. Having the right company representatives give the right talks at the right types of conferences at which talent can be found is one such method. Moreover, this also improves the hiring manager’s career aspirations and goals. Involving key team members in the entire hiring process is another must-do. This method can ensure that recruiters are completely on board with the goal of transformation and can effectively convey that message.
Note: Transitions on this level almost always require some external support in the beginning. But as the capabilities become cores of the business model, those roles should be converted to internal ones in a six-to-nine months time frame to ensure the new culture is embedded and a lower cost base achieved.
4. Multi-disciplinary teams: Traditional telecos tend to be highly siloed, often marketing and sales team working separately. This results in slow processes and low customer centricity, which is no longer sustainable. While it can take weeks and many back-and-forth handoffs to do something like put together a new discount campaign, working across functions in multidisciplinary teams can shorten the time to market for a new campaign to just days. This plus agile working methods is what accelerates digital customer engagement and can increase revenues by as much as 16%.
To achieve this faster, targeted and dynamic approach, multidisciplinary teams need to bring together the consumer-functions and IT groups to ensure the latter isn’t left behind. Together, they should focus on ambitious, short-term minimum viable products that follow a data-driven test and learn methodology. A Design Thinking approach, Agile project management and empowered product developers to take appropriate decisions, facilitates fast-prototyping.
Since impact can be achieved by even a small team, the proven approach is to start with select proof-of-concept use cases, followed by a rapid rollout to wider organization.
The multidisciplinary teams must have end-to-end ownership mind-set. Rather than waiting for orders or permission to act or submit long change request documents, teams should be empowered to take responsibility and get their work done.
5. Strong flexible technical foundation: To succeed in digital customer engagement, the agile processes and mind-set must be complemented by a strong technical foundation that will increase execution power and channel reach, as well as enable new cases. Failure to resource effectively and invest upfront can leave teams without the tools and technology required to unlock next-generation opportunities, such as personalization at scale.
Unlocking these use cases will require four elements to work together effectively – data, decision-making, design and distribution. Using Lean’s ’pull’ methodology will minimize the wait to build technology sophistication and digital maturity. Regardless of technology maturity, telecos can and should invest in technology enablers e.g. Google analytics, Tag Manager, Onsite AIS testing etc. to drive growth in marketing and digital sales.
6. Overcome inflexible legacy systems: Shun duplicative layers of approval and restrictions on open-source tools. Also, traditional players lack the basic technology needed to achieve encouraging results rapidly. This includes tracking basic marketing tools and flexible IT to allow for better customer flows. Getting the technology foundation implemented quickly is critical to managing the low flexibility of legacy systems many of which are partially disjointed as a result of years of industry M&A.
7. Corral data early: Customer data in telecos are usually found spread throughout the enterprise and have not been centralized in a single repository where they can be made available across channels. Developing a plan that priorities use cases and build a single source of customer insights for these use cases is critical. As the number of use cases expand, the data platform should continuously add more data signals as required. This will empower marketing activities and enable a consistent customer communication across digital and physical channels.
8. Update data protection compliance to regulations: The complexity of privacy assessments and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) require extensive analysis that can cause delays. At an early stage, companies need to identify areas that will handle personal data and assess whether these areas are affected by the GDPR or other integrity requirements. Furthermore, they need to define ways to use available data not covered by these restrictions.
9. Make Lean Kaizen a daily habit: Lean Kaizen is a method of improvement that involves a continuous process in order to get rid of excess waste involved in a process. Kaizen is the foundation of lean methods of production and focuses largely on reducing, or completely eliminating waste, increasing productivity and attaining continuous improvement relating to an organization’s methods.
Lean Kaizen incorporates Kaizen’s ideal of continuous improvement and focuses on making and applying small changes for a significant amount of time in order to achieve desired results. This method involves all types of employees at different levels within the company and requires complete involvement by all parties in order to allow anyone to speak up regarding problems and ways of improvement.
- Continuous Business Improvement with mastermind Shruti Bhat series- Limitations of Lean Kaizen.
- Continuous Business Improvement with mastermind Shruti Bhat series- Advantages of Lean Kaizen
- Continuous Business Improvement with mastermind Shruti Bhat series- What is Lean Kaizen?
- Continuous Improvement with mastermind Shruti Bhat series: Limitations of Kaizen methodology
- Continuous Improvement with mastermind Shruti Bhat series: Advantages of Kaizen methodology
- Continuous Improvement with mastermind Shruti Bhat series- Kaizen approach
As digital marketing tools and approaches take root in the fast-changing marketplace, telecom players can understand and approach customers in completely new ways. To capture this opportunity, telecos need to undergo a fundamental digital marketing and sales process transformation via Agile and Lean Kaizen. Telecos that don’t embrace this development soon will not only pass up an opportunity to increase market share, they risk losing a major part of existing market share.
Your success in life isn’t based on your ability to simply change. It is based on your ability to change faster than your competition, customers and business …
Learn more on Continuous Improvement for improving Sales & Marketing:
Dr. Shruti Bhat is an award-winning Business Excellence Leader, Global Continuous Improvement Mastermind, Best-selling Author and Speaker. She is Continuous Improvement Advisor to several start-ups, mid-size and growing firms in Canada, USA, India, Africa and Emerging markets. She has authored eight business books and is an invited speaker at several national and international conferences, symposia and workshops.
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