This division serves as a primary interface to customers and provides end to end ‘in life’ support of the services,” Rao explains. “It is, in fact, an extension of support beyond the network services. The service management function provides an overarching cover to create a unique and differentiated customer experience. Our Customer Service Management executives have full knowledge of, and are advocates of the accounts they represent. Everything a customer may need, from service levels, upgrades to IMACD (Installation, Move, Add, Change, Disposal) requests are picked up by this dedicated and highly skilled team. They are also responsible for service improvement programmes that give our customers immense benefit where they most require it.
“Although disruptive technologies do not emerge every day, we are continuously finding new solutions and implementations to enhance value to our customers, some of it based on the feedback from the service management teams that are in touch with the everyday needs of the customers they serve. This is one more part of adding value for the customers we deal with.”
Adding Value at the Baseline
“For us, adding value for our customers is at the core of every day’s activities, which is why service management is so important. A quick turnaround for IMACDs, and MTTR (Mean Time to Repair) should there be any service disruptions are considered basic hygiene parameters. “In order to determine how we are meeting and creating customer experience in the marketplace, we have various measuring mechanisms in place,” reveals Rao. “The first of these is the direct customer feedback we receive after every event or transaction (installation, service restoration and reviews). We have made great strides in this area. This Transaction Feedback (TF) is continuously analysed and we take note of the things we have done well, and the ones we need to improve at. For the items that are scored low or receive a poor rating, the customer is invariably called by a senior leadership member of the organisation and remedial actions are taken.
Over the past few years, we have managed to raise the bar of our service level substantially to where we feel we are performing well, although there is always room for improvement. “The second measure is an interim (mid-year) customer satisfaction survey which is administered in-house and the final measurement is undertaken through a full CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) survey administered by an independent external agency. Based on these measures and the feedback obtained, a customised customer health index is created which enables us to predict with reasonable accuracy, the type of future engagement with the customer. If the Index shows any negative sign, remediation is initiated immediately.
“In that sense, the members of our service management team are really more like technical-account managers than mere relationship managers. Therefore, we regard the team as a valuable asset in terms of human capital, with a set of multiple skills to deliver networking services across all three areas. Part of the service management responsibility also includes customer education and empowerment to ensure a better mutual experience. “Our latest rating from our customers in terms of overall satisfaction with our response rate was 83%. As far as customer communication is concerned, our rating is a very comfortable 98%. We therefore know that our team is reaching our customers in a professional effective and highly committed way,” notes Rao.
Intelligence at Both Ends
“We are now at a stage where networks have become intelligent and complex entities are managed by robust OSS platforms. The present day network necessitates a broad-spectrum of capability and skills for our staff, with IP becoming an integral part of every technology. This coupled with a various customer segments - small and large enterprises, and SOHO - puts a different level of demand on customer services. “We are comfortable about where we stand in the global telecom marketplace when it comes to benchmarking our service against global standards,” Rao says. “We have seen improvements in the stability of the network, which has also helped with service levels - our MTTRs are now below 3 hour levels, our service feasibility turnaround times are now 2 days. These significant improvements reliably inform us that these were transformational initiatives.” Rao says there is always room for improvement and that one of the areas Neotel has identified where their efforts will be extended is the development of the skills base and scalable operations.
“As a company, we believe that the skills base in the country needs to be further developed in order to reduce the dependence on suppliers. To this end, we are running training programmes so as to create our own skills base that will render sustainability of our services on all fronts. Single supplier dependencies are being eased to ensure right levels of business continuity. “Another area that is a challenge for us is the number of regulations and obtaining the necessary approvals for speedily rolling out infrastructure. We have to continue putting pressure on the relevant authorities to improve their processes, and we should also be looking far more closely as a country, at the sharing of infrastructure. Many markets globally have opened up and all over the world things are being done faster. All of this, of course, has to be done while ensuring affordable services and raising service quality for the end user’s benefit – both of which are focus areas for Neotel as we continue to differentiate on customer experience.”
Service Satisfaction is Growing
Neotel is the first converged telecoms operator in the country, with its own fibre optic network in the main metropolitan areas.
The total fibre optic network already covers 15 000 km
Products are unique and often use a combination of telecom services
Neotel’s customers give their service a resounding ‘A’ for satisfaction.
Neotel's Network Support Adds Value
“Neotel is a pioneer in the field of convergence with its state of the art, next-generation telecom network, having stepped outside the existing framework seven years ago, and is now providing a real alternative to the infrastructure on which all of the country’s voice and data communication used to be conveyed,” says Chalapathi Rao, the company’s Chief Network and Customer Services Officer (CNCSO).
“All our technologies provide for rapid deployment and real-time enhancement of a variety of services. This creates a product suite that provides a wide choice to our customers and our endeavour has always been to create ‘on-demand availability’ of services. “The Network and Customer Services Division has three distinct functions, namely Network Design and Engineering and Build, Customer Service (assurance and delivery), and the flagship service management functions.
by Ilse Ferreira