We’ve prepared something special today - a customer service talk with Dariusz Korczykowski and Jan Ekiel. What’s in?
self-service support as a part of a strategy
implementing of customer service systems
development and maintenance of customer service system
Have a nice watch!
Prefer reading? Check the transcription below.
Jan: Hello, I'm Jan Ekiel. Today we are at the headquarters of Liki Mobile Solutions. Behind me, you can see we have Christmas time. At Liki, we have Christmas time every day! Today with me is the guru of telecommunications services and customer solutions - Dariusz Korczykowski.
Dariusz: Hi, I’m Darek Korczykowski. I have 25 years of experience in telco business and I started with customer service solutions, but the last ten years it's digital solutions like customer support tool - an application at T-mobile and Orange company.
Jan: Okay, today's topic is customer care solutions. If you can explain to us what is the core activity of customer care app in big service companies?
Dariusz: Big companies have a lot of customers, so they probably have a lot of problems, especially in telecoms where the offer is very complex and customers can have some problems with the offers with the bills, with services, et cetera, et cetera. Companies have a lot of calls or emails or questions from customers and companies try to find solutions for that. For example, digital solutions like mobile applications.
Jan: Very often we talk about traditional companies which have traditional communication channels with customers, clients. Usually in salons, info lines and just now also in Internet and mobile applications. We talk about multichannel communication. May you explain why it is important for these traditional companies to serve services by customer service teams in all these channels?
Dariusz: Customers like to meet people, for example in salons or on calls. But companies try to cut costs and find the solution and turn these customers' questions into digital channels like application or selfcare on the web. So they improve all these options and try to give them as first choice solutions. Basically, it's a cheaper option than regular customer service with agents stationery in salons or in call centers.
Jan: It's cheaper. But I think it is also useful. If you talk about users of mobile phones, I think it's most natural for them to use the phone and mobile app for managing mobile services.
Dariusz: Exactly. Now it's useful for probably most people. Everybody has a smartphone. The second thing when we are talking about mobile applications, you have customers who can be constantly logged in to the application and availibl customer communications. You have constant contact with them. You can give them information before he tries to ask about something. You can prepare personalized offers or personalized information about their bills, their problems, et cetera, et cetera.
Strategy for launching customer service apps
Jan: You explained that customers like to contact people. But what is the strategy for launching a mobile app? I think it's not only cutting off the cost because the first step is the most natural use case of mobile apps is maintenance for customers. But what kind of benefits and strategy do you have when you plan to launch a mobile app for the help of customers?
Dariusz: I think when we started with the application 30 years ago, it was also the kind of brand information that the brand is modern, has an application. Modern companies have applications. But I think now it's something mandatory. I think a lot of people like to solve their problems themselves so they do it via digital channels like the web or application. And I think the application is much better. You have a smartphone in your pocket and you can check anything anytime or the company can give you information when they want to give you for customer relationships.
Services for customer support tool
Jan: And I think it's also more useful to click on a mobile app and check your current balance and switch off/switch on some additional services.
Dariusz: Of course, this is a challenge for the company to build easy processes, user-friendly processes. They have to think about how to change the offer to be very easy to manage to be very useful for customers.
Jan: It is very useful also during vacation when we land in some different countries. Very often we forget about the change of international service offer and it's very useful to change it in a mobile app, not lose time for a call.
Dariusz: Exactly. And of course, during those years the situation changed. Also, we started with basic information like data consumption or call consumption, or invoice status. During the years we add additional options to customer support apps like online payment, management of additional services, managing your personal data et cetera et cetera. And recently we built solutions for easy prolongation of your contract, easy way to upsell or cross-sell additional products for customers. That is the thing which a few years ago was available only in shops or on infolines.
Jan: I also think about the point of view of the telecom company. For example, Orange has more than 15 million customers on mobile services, and to help this big group of people the company needs sometimes a few thousand workers on infolines. It's very hard work to support customers in the configuration of their phones and for the configuration of the services. For the answer to questions about this. This is really hard work and a very big cost for companies. What kind of impact has mobile apps and also webpage had in this area?
Dariusz: All these solutions try to minimize the volume of calls, the volume of chats, or the volume of emails to the company. When we started 20 years ago, 25 years ago, there weren't any IBRs in the beginning. The next step was basically IBR after that another solution like USSD codes or management via text messages. Now digital is very important and minimization, of course, is really very important. And we do this every day. We have millions of sessions in the app and we cut a lot of probably unnecessary calls because when customers have to call and ask basic questions like how many minutes I have or when I have to pay my bill. Answers to this question should be available in just 1 second.
Jan: if we compare services in a few areas because just now we are talking about telecoms. But here it is more complicated - share of the cars. Because the telecoms have mobile services, Internet access program services very often TV services or IPTV. This is a lot of service options and how long you spend time on the design or plan launch of this application. All services were available in the app from the first day of the solution?
Dariusz: No, when we started years ago there were only the basics and you can check only the most important information. Also, the account of customers was much more basic than now because customers can have a lot of products, a lot of options, and a lot of services. And in the beginning, the solutions mostly get information per one MSDN and you have to change accounts to check another MSDN data. Now, when you log in to the application, you can see all your products, all your billing accounts, all your services. And of course, when you implement such a solution, you have to prepare projects. You have to check with customers, do some surveys, you have to get feedback from them and you have to constantly improve the service. You have to check customer opinion on markets. You have to provide additional deep dive surveys and you have to check what they want, how they use the application, have to monitor what option they choose, what they do, or what they don't do because maybe they don't understand how to do something. Of course, also, there is a place for education for informing them that you have a new option, or when customers have a problem with doing something with the information, kind of tips or suggest how you can do this via this option or another. It's hundreds of thousands of hours of studies.
Continuous development of customer service app
Jan: I understand this is a very big job for the delivery of mobile apps for managing this many services, and you spend a lot of years - year by year, step by step - at the new solutions and support for new services. But the services are not the same every year. Everything changes, receiving new features, receiving changes in the costs, and how is it possible to manage the changing requests in these applications?
Dariusz: Of course, you have to think about your application as part of the environment in the company. Development has to be connected to customer needs or to your vision, how this application should be. But on the other hand, when a company provides some projects, some new offers, new options. You have to include those projects, those needs into application also. So you have a few lines of new requests, of a new requirement for the development of an application. And of course, you have to choose which is important now, which you have to do now or what you can postpone very often in the software development world, we are talking about continuous integration, continuous delivery. But in this case, in real-time management of business services, we can say about continuous development services.
Jan: Exactly, it's continuous development and you have to be a few steps ahead and think, what won't you do next year or next month? You have to prepare your roadmap. Sometimes you have to change your priorities. But of course, this is a big schedule.
Jan: This work will never end. It is not a project, but more. It's a process.
Dariusz: Exactly. It's strange, but it's not a simple project like we start in January and finish in December. There is a list of projects when every year you start in January and finish in December and still, you have to think about the next implementations, new developments, customer data, etc.
Jan: Sometimes business owners, business managers ask me about cost. The cost of this process is quite big to be a software development team and work with them. But still, we spend this money and invest it in mobile apps, because we expect that the economy will cover the costs of application development, we expect benefits in this area. Invest in mobile apps but cut the huge cost of after-sales services. But the question of the product manager is about the impact of larger new solutions, mobile applications, and generation of additional costs with questions about this mobile application. Because if customers install this mobile app on their phone and they will have problems with this application or if it will be not useful, they can generate the number of calls on infoline and the cost of infoline will still increase. Do you have a special process for the integration of call center workers with software development teams?
Dariusz: I think the most important thing you have to remember is how you implement the options. So when you start with something which is a very basic solution, probably the number of customers will not be very huge. So the list of problems or volume of calls will not be huge after that. When your product is more mature and you have more and more customers. Probably the next version will have only a few percent of new options than the core of the application. So the probability that these new options will generate a big problem is rather impossible. On the other hand, you have two test applications, and testing and checking everything a few times is very important. When you have test teams. When you have people who are prepared who have tested data for testing, you can prepare an application, launch it on the market without probable problems.
Benefits and customer satisfaction
And the second thing, the benefits of application is not only the cost-cutting in customer service but also the income from Upsell or cross-sell made an application in a digital way.
Jan: It is very interesting because I think just now all telecom operators have their own mobile applications. But in Orange, you have your own shop in great customer service apps.
Dariusz: Of course, you have a shop. You have personalized offers for each customer, so we give a proper offer to the proper customer and the chance that he will buy it or turn on the service. It's much higher than regular advertisements on the web with information to everybody. We should think about customer service software applications, not only the customer care solution but also the sales solution. So the application became something like an old company in your smartphone. You can do everything.
Jan: Talking about personalization and dedicated offers. It is very interesting. It is not the same offer for all customers. Do you use artificial intelligence solutions behind the application?
Dariusz: Of course, we try to implement new options. AI is a very prospective solution, so we try to do this. Of course, it's probably the beginning of this way, but I'm 100% convinced that AI solutions for customer service tool for not only for suggesting to customers what they should buy, but also how to help them solve their problems with the future.
The future of customer service apps
Jan: How do you see the customer relations between people and companies in the future?
Dariusz: Don't want to really understand what the offer is, how it works. I think people are lazy. We are lazy, so they need easy offers, easy solutions, easy options to manage this solution, these offers. I think they will wait for information from the company about what is important, they will wait for important messages. Companies and small businesses, I think, will try to predict what problems customers can have or what product they want to buy or they want to sell exactly to a particular person. I think this is the way, we have to collect customer feedback.
Jan: I know they are companies and services where all relation between client and customer company is online, refusing web or mobile application like new mobile service. But in this traditional business, like in Orange, I think it's my point of view. It's not possible to resign from real relations in salons.
Dariusz I don't know. We will see it in the future, but I think digitalization is really very important, really important for customers and customer satisfaction. We have new habits. People like to do things themselves on their smartphones. I think if they have reliable information in a better customer service app or on the web, they want to call and ask and ensure it from the customer agent if this is true or not, you have to build a service which customers can trust. So when you do something like that, I think it's possible to move or to push customers from the existing way of service or sales into digital in the best customer service apps.
Jan: How many books do you have in your home?
Dariusz: More than a thousand.
Jan: I know that you are a book geek. What is the last one?
Dariusz: I don't remember exactly because I bought a few and now we have Christmas time and I bought some gifts and also some books for myself. But I think it's a book about our history, something like that new approach to Polish history.
Jan: Usually when I buy some books for this, they are books that I want to read and I hope people will give me a chance. Thank you very much for your time and the talk about the customer service solution. I hope we will meet again to talk about this continuous development of mobile applications and quality assurance
Dariusz: Thank you. Thank you very much.