'Digitisation can be a threat as well as an ally' – Optus

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 9 November 2016

Telecommunications businesses have been robbed of their walled garden position, with apps such as WhatsApp and Skype commoditising the price for calls and texts.

Optus has felt the full force of the digital world, with head of customer experience in the CX innovations labs at Optus, Charles Weiser, admitting the business hasn’t fully adapted to the new world order just yet.

“Our job used to be to sell products. Now, we have to create an always on, 24/7 experience. This change is unprecedented because there’s no working structure for that - there’s no single customer journey anymore,” Weiser said at an IAA Thought Leadership Forum yesterday.

“It’s more about creating environments where we are a trusted advisor in a digitally global world which is something we haven’t done before.

“Doing that at scale with 10 million customers is a challenge we’re just now coming into.”

Weiser was on a panel with executives from Ipsos, Lida, Adobe and Audible on why the role of customer experience is increasingly important to brands.

iaa panelThe panel at the IAA event in Sydney

“Telcos are legacy businesses in a shrinking market selling things people no longer want,” he said.

When it comes to customer experience, Weiser admitted that Optus has more to do in the space.

“We’re a lot of engineers, we’re a lot of technocrats, but we’re not really about customer service as yet but our hearts are in the right place.

“On the technology side where a lot of things are out of control, we need predictions when there’s mass service disruptions or when storms are going to happen.

“Our challenge is to use our predictive analytics and we’re doing that with AI around where storms are and the usage of our networks – to gear up to be proactive.

As for the future of telco businesses, Weiser questioned their life span as smartphones continue to grow into their own “mini networks”. He noted that digitisation is a threat to Optus, as much as it as an ally.

“I am blown away at the pace technology is moving. Are we going to need banks? Will we need telcos or grocery stores?

“We don’t compare ourselves to other telcos. We compare ourselves to what our customers compare us to, like Amazon and Netflix. Businesses that are highly personalised and always moving – that’s the gold standard.”

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