Bringing to light the aspects of the Broadband Order Fulfilment process that not only delivers an innovative and cost reducing model, but also provides a progressive and de-risked approach to operations
Impact of Broadband Trends on Fulfilment Process
In less than a decade, the world of information and communication technologies has turned on its head. Internet is integral to people’s personal and business lives delivering a wide range of information, communication and entertainment services. Nearly three billion people are connected to the internet and the collective time spent online clocked 35 billion hours a month in 2014. This is further rising to create an explosion in the number of concurrent users. Robust connectivity and high speed is on every broadband customer’s list of wants. The ever expanding consumer base and the demand for applications that require high-bandwidth such as video and gaming is mounting up pressure on broadband service providers. Customers want uninterrupted connectivity with no compromise to service quality. It’s everywhere, telcos are quadrupling their efforts to satisfy and retain customers by increasing the availability and quality of broadband connectivity.
The other dimensions adding to the challenges of telcos include portability that makes customers vulnerable to switch service providers, Average Revenue Per Customer (ARPU) which continues to be a key success parameter, digitization which is fueling the shift in customer preference from voice to increased data consumption, fiber based services and wireless connectivity that are phasing out DSL to become the new normal. It’s not hard to imagine how colossal the bandwidth consumption is going to be. With all these shifts steering the future of Broadband, Customer Satisfaction can be a tough one to master. The key to be operationally ready in the midst of this fluidity lies in a telco’s ability to extract intelligence from the data generated across processes and to use this intelligence to re-engineer processes in a way that delivers desired outcomes.
The fulfilment process, responsible for providing customers with their requested products in a timely and accurate manner is an essential entity of the broadband business. If managed well, it has the highest potential to influence Customer Satisfaction. It comprises of smaller steps such as order capture and validation, processing, service validation, provisioning of resources, configuration, testing and error handling. A slip at any step can lead to a dissatisfied customer, and the associated fear for the telco is ‘churn’.
A Relook at the Regular Fulfilment Process and the Need for Change
The Fulfilment process has a huge impact on the brand image of any telco company. Winning the customer’s trust is half the battle won. Effective requirements management along with a proactive connect go a long way to build the customer’s confidence and the telco’s brand! The real objective of the Fulfilment process should be to build customer loyalty. This comes with seamless error free service, repeated consistently.
A Fulfilment process is often defunct for reasons such as slow and traditional methods of capturing information, unstructured information flow, usage of legacy system that lack mistake proofing or have excessive human intervention, making the process vulnerable to errors. Inaccuracies in end-to-end process outlook have a direct bearing on customer experience, cost optimization and cash flow (revenue management).
Possiblities of Slippage in a Broadband Fulfilment Process
A globally spread broadband Fulfilment process needs standardization, reduced people dependency, visibility into order processing, precision and access to timely information for being successful with a well-defined escalation matrix. Absence of these parameters will result in a fragmented process with no sync between the sub-processes impacting delivery of service. While the telco struggles to get its act together, the customer on the other hand has zero tolerance and zero patience for a delayed order delivery and is likely to churn. However, the good thing about the Fulfilment cycle in Broadband is that it is fairly shorter that the enterprise product Fulfilment cycle (example: MPLS). The possible workaround in this short cycle may seem insignificant at the face of it, but if delved deeper, has the ability to turn the tables to boost customer satisfaction. The one big question that telcos would like a solution for – How do we serve and retain customers in a way that we constantly reduce cost to serve while improving our accuracy and timeliness of service?
The answer lies in bridging the gap that exists between customer needs for broadband that are qualified in terms of speed, simplicity, flexibility, readiness for scale, and the telco’s ability to meet this need, which is a function of their ability to customize offerings on the fly, agility in provisioning them quickly, accurately and a sense for predicting the changing needs of the customer.
State of the New, Improved Fulfilment Process
Each telco or service provider is free to adopt their own approach to best manage their Fulfilment process. So, what is that one best path to take? If a telco decides to find a service provider to manage this process, how do they ensure that the service provider will deliver desired results? Business Process Framework eTOM , published by TM Forum defines a model for the telecommunication industry that describes the business processes for service providers, defines key elements and suggests the best mode of interaction. Following the eTOM guidelines for managing the Fulfillment process has its own unique benefits – however it is important to know that eTOM gives service providers the framework but not the whole nine yards; it isn’t a plug and play situation. This skeletal draft, topped with best practices accrued by the service provider is an ideal mix for guaranteeing results for broadband fulfilment operations. Customers’ operational nuances need to be configured in the framework, they need to be given the option to negotiate on bandwidth requirement and add-on services and customizations required in the broadband service. A thing to note is that customers are not going to compromise on lead time for receiving the services. Provisioning the service timely and accurately is key and hence the need for being able to accommodate customization quickly is paramount.
Tenets of a Successful Fulfilment Process
The below sequence of events are the true tenets of a successful Fulfilment process. If powered with robust end-to-end design principles, technology platforms and key performance criteria, it has the potential to make a stark difference.
The core solution can be designed to not only deliver an innovative and cost effective model but can also provide a progressive and de-risked approach to operations through rationalization and automation leading to best-in class delivery capabilities.
Making this new Fulfilment Process Design Work for You
With the kind of unpleasant surprises that any average Fulfilment process can throw at you, it pays to have a crisp and tight framework to get through; a framework that is end-to-end and not a piece meal approach to drive ownership and accountability with well-defined process and system architecture. Three entities that need to function flawlessly and intertwine in harmony are Customer, Process and People
Applying 6-Sigma methods to a single step in the process chain does not guarantee customer satisfaction and on-time delivery. Efficiency improvement must make a holistic impact across the process lifecycle. It calls for Process Standardization to reduce processing hindrances with alignment of staff goals to business objectives of the telco and standardization of roles and responsibilities to improve process efficiency and ensure success through a predictable service.
It helps to have a best-in-class process framework for efficiency improvement that reduces redundancies while driving end-to-end order orchestration. Efficiency and cost can have a synergic equation and all automation, Lean, and cost improvement methods should strive to balance this equation to reduce cost per order.
A single version of truth in real time facilitates decision making process and expediting the actions there on. A technology solution driven fulfilment platform not only eliminates manual efforts (through Robotics), it also supports real time tracking of queues, jeopardy management, alerts – triggers for proactive escalations and maintains dashboards that report end-to-end order and vendor performance, and analytics intelligence for insights that help manage escalations and other predictive actions go a long way in ensuring transparency and visibility for the telco with single version of truth.
Benefits of a Standardized Broadband Fulfilment process
‘Eyes on the ball’ in any Fulfilment process must result in ‘Improved CSAT’. While most telcos end up with defining process KPIs as their way of measuring success, a seasoned service provider exhibits their expertise by connecting process KPIs to Business KPIs and articulating the impact at every step. Maintaining the correlation on an ongoing basis and communicating this with the client is what spells true success.
Evaluating a Service Provider for your Broadband Fulfilment Process
Managing the service provider in a controlled environment is critical for a telco’s success. While signing up for such an engagement it is likely that a telco will worry about capex that will be over and above the existing opex incurred on running the Broadband Fulfilment process. A smart service provider should be able to service with the leanest capex, one that evens out across the contract tenure and shows upfront benefits in form of higher efficiencies, leaner and harmonized operating models.
A telco should consider evaluating a service provider’s Fulfilment capabilities on a few factors such as global presence, understanding of end-to-end process outlook, international industry standards followed to run your operations and customer service, commercially well supported technology platforms, proven business innovation, high-end Quality practices and domain expertise. Predict customer needs, retaining customers, reduce customer churn, re-engineer processes to drive seamless provisioning and address customer demands by reducing cost to serve are the credentials that a telco needs to be rated on. FASTER, BETTER and CHEAPER to become the new mantra and predictability, flexibility and consistency to become the differentiation tenets. No matter what mountains a telco may move to service the customer there mustn’t be a whiff of it. Allow Customer Satisfaction metrics to talk for themselves!