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Customer experience is not a concept, it is the company’s reality perceived by its customers

18 Oct 2021

Michel Macia, Customer Experience Director at Orange Romania: “The success of a CX integration in a company’s DNA is based on synergy and collective work focusing on customer view, a real challenge

The success of a CX integration in a company’s DNA is based on synergy and collective work focusing on customer view, a real challenge

Organizations must embrace the permanence of these changes and take advantage of the opportunities they bring. There is more scope to engage with customers in an innovative and personal way and the reward for doing so is clear. Not only will it help companies to retain existing customers, but also to attract dissatisfied consumers from competing brands. People are more likely to increase their spending (19%) once the pandemic subsides than to reduce spending (10%). So, for organizations that can get their customer experience right there is business to be won, how’s the latest study commissioned  by SAS, the leader of data analytics to discover how consumer preferences and behaviors in the CEMEA region (Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, Middle East and Africa) have changed due to the pandemic and how this differs between regions.

How is Orange reaping the opportunities of staying closer to customers during pandemic? What are the main CX challenges during this pandemic and how is Orange Romania wining with a coherent customer experience management strategy? Read more in an interview with Michel Macia, Customer  Experience Director

What is the role of Customer Experience (CX) in the overall strategy of the company? How important it is for the performance of the company in today’s environment?

From my point of view, the role of the customer experience  can be summarized into three main aspects, as follows:

  1. Competitive advantage, because it helps the company to detach itself in the minds and hearts of the customers, and in the same time not all the intricacies of CX can be identified and copied easily by competitors;
  2. Brand perception accelerator, considering the fact that it helps boost what the brand stands for by presenting how the company’s values are put in practice. CX is not a concept, it is the company’s reality perceived by its customers.
  3. Cost optimization opportunity, because when we are analyzing ways to improve customers experiences, we can identify also customer pain points that impact company’s costs. By resolving those pain points we reduce costs and improve satisfaction, while gaining support from Internal stakeholders that better understand this benefit.

Another key aspect to be considered is that CX is encompassing customers’ spirit, because the possibility to differentiate through price is very limited in time or inexistent for some companies. Today’s customer is searching for value for money and is ready to pay if he perceives the value received.

Today’s customer is searching for value for money and is ready to pay if he perceives the value received.

At Orange, we are embedding customer experience into several areas, the most important are:

  1. Brand – the reasons why our clients recommend us impact brand awareness and we strive for a stable performance.
  2. Strategy - CX is one backbone of Orange’s overall strategy. It is the basic language that we use to communicate within the company. In the same time, we have a key positioning to be customer focused at the overall level of the company.
  3. Operating model – we have a shared responsibility in Orange and we are happy to have a CX Extended Team, with experts transversally present in all areas of the company (Marketing, Customer Service, Sales, Technical, Strategy, Quality). In the same time, we communicate extensively internally on the importance of this competitive advantage and the role everyone can play in improving it.
  4. Internal services – we provide design and assessment services for anticipation and improvement of our processes, business rules, procedures and customer communication in interactions. We involve different business units, because at the end of the day we are perceived as one CX team. Also, we always look at and include our frontline employees’ experience mirroring with customer interactions and journeys.

From the perspective of the main contribution of the CX Team, the recurrent aspects and activities we cover in our daily work are: performance management (CX KPIs evolution), CX methods (assessment & design of customer and frontline employees’ journeys with focus on experience improvement and anticipation of reactions and associated response elements), customer feedback loop to contribute with CX overview (e.g. customers’ communication, employees’ training, processes), CX projects roadmap (as contributors and initiators).

What are the main CX challenges during this pandemic?

Last year, as the pandemic confinement was in full deployment, we identified 5 main areas we concentrated our efforts on, in order to accordingly manage our customers expectations in this very trying period:

  1. Show empathy and humanity, that we mostly conveyed through recommendations related to customer communication, especially by being proactive in addressing our clients’ questions and concerns.
  2. Ask less and listen more, we tried to listen more what our customers were saying in all channels in order to gather more actionable insights. This way we found out that customers were going back to essentials, like what I need in my house: access to basic services (internet/TV access, SIM replacement, device change). Also, we noticed the change in behavior related to bill payment, as distance transactions were taking off.
  3. Quick and agile in changes through considering likely and possible changes to customer needs and journeys and by adapting existing or introducing new processes consistent with the new normal.
  4. Focus on key relationship metrics, as we paid more attention to what we could do to keep our customers happy in the near term and vigilant on front liners stress in treating the customers contacts.
  5. Redefine CX approach, by reviewing experiences we were delivering and proposing actions.

Now after more than one year since the start of the pandemic, we are keeping our eyes on the following topics:

  • The need to keep brand value in the eyes of our customers
  • Be ready to rearrange strategy on the go as times can change even more unexpectedly than before
  • Change operating model with the implication that new subjects, where customer experience is key, will appear. One very good example is the need to have a better customer knowledge (CX in Big Data)
  • Be prepared to prioritize the assessments and execute in an agile mode in order to adapt to current circumstances
  • Anticipate customers reactions in key strategic projects and design wished customer journeys

How are you supporting the marketing function and projects in your organization?

Orange’s CX Team is contributing to all major projects of the company, our key focus and responsibilities being on: design & assessment of customer journeys, set up and monitoring of CX KPIs, ensuring the link between CX, Operational Marketing (Go to Market) and Customer Voice (Research), offering support to product managers, with a specific focus on Digital for which acceleration is strategic.  

At the same time, we anticipate and we prepare for the future and, in the case of CX, the next level of evolution is customer relationship experience. This means we are opening the door to include in the CX KPIs an overview of customers’ emotional perceptions, because as we all know our decisions are less influenced by our rational selves and more by our emotional selves. In this extensive exercise we are considering the value this approach is bringing to our customers, the relationship attributes the company will concentrate on to deliver its best and differentiate in customers’ eyes, the strategy we can apply to deploy this in all channels (with a specific focus on Digital), and the services we should address (e.g. human capital changes, adapting customer communication).

How is your marketing background helping you sustain and deliver long term and sustainable value as a CX leader?

My experience was built on marketing of services, an area where you have to be inventive and highly productive. That made me very aware of the need to look for, understand and envision customer experience and customer needs that are at the foundation of a business, no matter the industry.

I started in Marketing B2C working on Customer Base Management and Invoice services, then I switched to Services Marketing for B2B customers, to come back to B2C for Operational Marketing. In 38 years of experience, I also worked in IT, Customer Services and Sales and three years in processes (Business Processes Management).

So, I would say I like to open doors, liaise with a lot of people with very diverse backgrounds and from different areas and help them connect the dots to bring forward the best possible customer experience.

Could you share any thoughts about your working experience so far in Romania?

Romania is the sixth country I have worked in as most of my working life has been so far spent outside France. I enjoy working here because I like the human relationship part, the collective working approach and the people’s dedication to customer experience. The diversity of experiences had here has been very interesting and I was impressed by the difference in between urban and rural universes. It is not an obstacle, but an advantage in terms of cultural diversity. In the same time, I see the services level in Romania has a lot of potential to be further developed in a lot of industries.

 

Diana Rada-Puiu

Diana Rada-Puiu este Projects Coordinator in cadrul Raiffeisen Bank Romania. In ultimii 8 ani a coordonat implementarea de proiecte cu impact asupra experientei clientilor si campanii locale de marketing si comunicare.

Portalul Marketing Focus a fost lansat de Institutul de Marketing  cu scopul de a aduce un plus de informatie, idei si resurse de marketing atat profesionistilor de marketing, cat si celorlalti actori si departamente implicate in livrarea performantei de marketing: comunicare si relatii publice, resurse umane, IT, financiar,  relatii cu clientii si nu in ultimul rand management. 

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