Ziad Elbatal, Vice President of Customer Experience at Saudi Telecom, speaks about STC’s migration towards digitalization across customer care channels. He also talks about STC’s “Voice of Customer Platform” for listening to customers, soft skills training for staff, social media sentiment analysis and services for customers with special needs.
Q: Saudi Telecom is a leading Telecommunications company in the Middle East. What key customer-centric factors have contributed towards growth?
Ziad Elbatal: At STC, we’ve enhanced our data analytics capabilities to make our operations more customer-centric. We run hundreds of targeted individual customized campaigns to meet customers’ needs. On the loyalty front, we’ve won many awards for our loyalty program “Qitaf”, the largest loyalty program in the region. High-end customers enjoy special treatment, where we deployed special centers to support these customers 24/7. Similarly, we introduced further segmented centers to serve female and expat segments. Finally, we deployed a “voice of customer platform” last year that allows us to listen to our customers upon their interaction with us at each touchpoint.
Q: What customer support channels do you have available and which of these channels is most popular and most commonly used by your customers?
Ziad Elbatal: We offer different self-service channels: Mobile application, portal, interactive robotic SMS, IVR, self-service machines, vending machines, and e-store. As for conventional channels, we have physical stores for males and females, in addition to the several segmented contact centers. The most successful digital channel is the interactive or robotic SMS, followed by mobile application.
Q: STC has recently won an award for ‘Outstanding Self-Service Customer Experience’ for its innovative self-service features. Can you tell us more about these features and in your opinion, how are self-service technologies transforming Customer Experience?
Ziad Elbatal: We are proud to announce that we’ve reached a high level of digitalization and self-service where 87% of our customers’ interactions occur on non-assisted channels. Customer satisfaction results show higher values when measured using digital self-service channels, hence the decision to convert more customers to digital platforms. The secret of success is to make sure that self-service channels cover most of the needed services, are always updated, are more reliable than conventional channels, and easy to use.
Q: What are your processes for measuring Customer Satisfaction with your services?
Ziad Elbatal: We have a full fledge “voice of customer platform” measuring: Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Effort Score (CES), Agents performance, and sentiment analysis from social media. The type of surveys carried out are primarily transactional surveys upon the completion of an interaction at each touchpoint (stores, call center, mobile application, 900 interactive, e-care). Secondly, we conduct relational surveys on randomly selected customers from all segments. Furthermore, there’s social media sentiment analysis where customer and visitor tweets are categorized and assessed based on sentiment. Finally we conduct product related surveys upon the launch of new products or for strategic ones.
Q: How are you using Social Media platforms to connect with customers, manage complaints and assess customer feedback?
Ziad Elbatal: We have an e-care team dedicated to manage customers’ needs on our STC care twitter account and facebook page, online portal and mobile application posts and live chat. Through the voice of customer platform, we analyze the tweets and comments on social media, categorize them per journey stage and assess their sentiment.
Q: What sort of Customer Service trainings do you have in place for your staff and how frequently do these trainings take place?
Ziad Elbatal: One of the 6 values of STC is Employee First. That’s why we have continuous soft and hard skills training. We have dedicated trainings for newcomers who could be your weakest link in the chain of customer service. To ensure good quality of service, we carry out assessment tests before allowing employees to take responsibilities. We have a large number of front liners; so for better efficiency, we follow the “train the trainers” approach. We’ve introduced knowledge sharing portals and we use internal intranet, screen banners and SMS to ensure immediate communication with agents. Finally, we organize heart-beat sessions at the beginning of every shift where supervisors highlight critical issues, prioritize work and bring their teams on board with updates and briefings.
Q: What services do you have available for customers with special needs?
Ziad Elbatal: We recently deployed special areas and devices in our stores. We also have in our portfolio special offers and packages for them. The diversity and efficiency of all our channels enable people with special needs to choose what is better for them to chat or talk to us, or even interact through self-service channels without human interactions. Our mobile application, MySTC, is blind-friendly as well.
Q: What are your processes for handling customer complaints?
Ziad Elbatal: Customers have a diversity of channels to raise their complaints: Stores, contact center, mobile application, portal, and social media. For customers contacting our agents to raise a complaint, we aim at closing the issue from the first call by empowering our level 1 agents with authorities and online tools. This is reflected in our First Call resolution (FCR) score above 80%. Also, for customers whose complaint needs level 2 support, we have internal SLAs with different departments that we aim to meet.
Q: What new features and services do you plan to introduce in the coming year for an elevated Customer Experience?
Ziad Elbatal: Our main emphasis in the coming years, that would further enhance our customer experience strategy, are: higher digitalization rates, closed-loop feedback to ensure higher customer satisfaction, and Omni channel strategy.
About Ziad Elbatal
Ziad El Batal leads STC’s Customer Experience, Digital Contact Centers and Billing divisions.
Prior to his role at STC, Ziad supported as a top management consultant over 40 large organizations, mainly telecom companies, government institutions, electronics and energy suppliers in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East between 1999 and 2013.