Building a telecoms CRM system? It's a breeze...

Toni Sekinah, research analyst and features editor, DataIQ

For James Breeze, the outgoing head of marketing operations at O2, presenting at the DataIQ Summit provided an opportunity properly to reflect on his achievements and those of his teams. He offered words of wisdom, advice and showed examples of how analytics can be used to benefit the customer and the business, and how to place analytics in a human context.

The mission statement of Breeze’s team is: “Utilise best in class capability to enable, efficiently and effectively, the most relevant and engaging customer conversations.”

Five people using their mobile phonesFor Breeze, such a statement is important because it acts as a beacon so that everybody knows what they are striving for. He said a statement can be used as a guiding light to make sure the whole team is moving in the same direction toward “delivering great conversations that will deliver good customer experiences and deliver the KPIs the business expects.”

There are many such conversations. Breeze said that his team is responsible for sending out half a billion outbound messages a year to O2’s customers, 25 million in total, and added that they are all highly targeted and personalised.

O2’s communications haven’t always been highly targeted and personalised. In 2014, the company did some research on the drop-off rate of new mobile sim customers and found that 60% of were leaving within the first three months. Breeze played a video that documented this case study and stated that O2 realised that it needed to “dial it down and simplify things.”

"We used insight and analytics to deliver a better experience."

They refreshed the customer welcome journey and increased its length from 30 days to 90. The messages in the first month focused on explaining the value of the sim while the messages of the subsequent months centred on getting the customer’s email address and informing them of hooks and goodies that would hopefully mean they would stay. “This was an example of using insight and analytics to deliver a better experience. It was about doing less and getting better outcomes for us and the customer. Now we’re all about sending the right messages at the right times,” said Breeze.

In the course of his eight and a half years at O2, Breeze also found out that it was important to have open and transparent communication with customer-facing staff. Sometimes, the humans actioning the insight can feel left out as Breeze said that “there is a tendency to let the clever analytics to its own thing.” They were being asked to communicate with customers with the assistance of a real-time, next-best-action engine. However, there was a drop-off in engagement and so Breeze and his team spoke to the agents to find out what the problem was. The agents said that they didn’t have confidence to ‘talk to the customer about priority [reward programme]’ as the next conversation just because the black box said to do so. They wanted more context.

Mobile phone with Google Play screen and earphonesSo Breeze and his team presented a view of why the black box made each suggestion that it did. “We said ‘We know they digitally engage. We know they’ve browsed online assets for priority. For all these reasons, this is the top next conversation’,“ he explained.

By giving the agents that extra context , they were much happier to have those conversations, and were able to use some of that context to manage the conversation and make them less cold.

In addition to these successes, Breeze has also learnt some lessons about corporate culture, one of those being around the nature of legacy businesses. He also said that legacy businesses will have legacy technology. Businesses of any size will have invested in the past and there is a vested interest in existing solutions. “Sometimes that can limit our ambition going forward,” he advised.

On the flip side, he also advised against going all out on acquiring shiny new technology tools as they might not live up to the hype but still have their uses; attracting funds and engendering workplace  cohesion.

"Shiny toys can be useful to attract funding and unite the business."

“Over my eight and a half years at O2 I’ve bought a few shiny toys that haven’t worked out exactly how they were expected. At the same time they can be very useful to attract funding and unite the business.” By pointing out the pros and cons, Breeze seemed to be advocating a middle ground for technology.

Working in a collaborative way also seems to be an important strategy for Breeze. He said that businesses that are distinctly siloed can have different departments that can sometimes work against each other. “That can limit our ability to deliver on a truly joined up omnichannel digital experience,” he said.

Breeze also said that when taking a retrospective view it is always important to look reflect and recognise the good work that has been done in the past in the landscape of constantly changing personnel and structure of big businesses. “Don’t be afraid of packaging up the good stuff you’ve done and selling it to new people because they aren’t aware and they can see new value in old things. That’s a powerful lesson I’ve learnt,” he said.

"You're amazing at some things. You can share that."

With a nod to the great potential for networking amongst the data leaders and practitioners in the audience, Breeze’s final piece of advice was to get advice and counsel from others. “Seek the experience of other companies and partners. You’re amazing at some things you don’t realise that no one else is. You can share that with other businesses and other sectors that are at different stages. I would encourage you to take advantage of that.”  


Knowledge-based content manager, DataIQ
Toni is the senior features editor responsible for the origination of DataIQ's interviews, articles and blogs.