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How Sky has improved its CX by focusing on outcome over output to bridge the Experience Gap

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan April 11, 2024
Priyesh Ranmal, Head of Digital Disruption and Transformation at Sky, highlights an important shift in organizational mindset that delivers positive results that the CEO will love.


CEOs believe they deliver a superior experience and customers disagree.

A bold statement from Priyesh Ranmal, Head of Digital Disruption and Transformation at Sky, who argues that CEOs talk a good game, but run into problems: 

They want to be customer-centric. ‘We're going to create great experiences, we're going to be product-led’, and that's good and they have that vision. But ultimately CEOs have different people to answer to. Where they've got to answer to is the board, the share price, the big bonuses. They care about experiences, but they're also governed by different rules, which sometimes dilutes the message going down [the organization]…the CEO should be creating visions, creating these purposes which translate through to every single person, every single point in your delivery, in your design, in your experience that you're creating. And if that vision isn't spread, the gap starts to grow.

The gap in question here is the Experience Gap, as defined by Qualtrics some years ago. That definition posits data as being divided into two classes - operational and experience, Ranmal noted at the recent Beat the Benchmark digital marketing event hosted by Contentsquare: 

Operational Data is all about the things that happen in the past, what's happened. Experience is all about the things that are going to happen and are happening now. They're kind of the obvious things. Data is a massive thing, but if you don't leverage those two things, you're not going to create a great experience. But there's more to that. There are intricate pieces around how a business operates. If you don't do these extra things, you start to make that gap even bigger.

Bridging the gap

Bridging the Experience Gap is one of Ranmal’s roles within Sky: 

Effectively, what I do is I look at end-to-end experiences for our customers. So whether it starts on digital, in the call center, or they come over to the IVR, or they come over to the advisor or the engineer, I will look at the end-to-end process and understand how that translates to our customers. Can we make that better?

That means understanding the customer, he added: 

What does every organization dream of? We want to know what our customers do. We want to understand how they do it. And we want to bring them all together…We can sell more, we can resolve more queries, we can get better brand connections. We can create more loyalty and advocacy, all great stuff. So that's why data is a massive power to make these things happen.

But organizations run into what Ranmal called “the data conundrum”: 

Ten years ago, what happened? The big buzzword was Big Data. ‘Big Consultancy’ comes in and says, 'You guys need to leverage the big data in your business. It's all there. Why don't you use it?' So we all went away and looked at our Big Data. We started to look at CDPs (Customer Data Platforms) and all these types of things and Data Lakes. How do we start to collect these data points? The years matured, we had some great SaaS analytic tools come along and tried to sell their tool to someone in the grey blazer and a blue jumper. So we bought that. 

We took it and we started to look at those insights and it started to power the way we move forward with our organization and do things better for our customers. The problem is, if you don't action those insights, if you don't think about your vision that you want for your customers, then the Experience Gap starts to grow. It gets bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger. That's what's key about it. It's about actioning those insights.

This in turn leads to the important concept of pursuing outcome rather than output, he advised, changing the mindset of your business: 

You're not about thinking about what you're going to build. It's about the outcomes that you're going to create, to start to become a product-led company rather than a product-output company. So all the thinking around your product managers saying, 'Well, you've got to do this by a certain time' goes out the window. The CEO’s 'We've got to hit these targets', goes out the window. Those things start to dissolve and the gap starts to close for experience because you're doing better things for your customers eventually. 

What you want to be doing is building value for your customers, thinking about the lifecycle of the project and the outcome. You want to be true to your vision, rather than creating half-baked solutions and getting it straight out there. That's not gonna make anyone win. You want to be broader. You want to think about the bigger cause that you want to create and have for your customers and how you develop a solution and how it accelerates your business, rather than fixed timelines. fixed periods of work scope. That doesn't get anyone anywhere today. It worked back in 1989, but not now.

In practice

OK, so that’s the theory; how does that translate into action at Sky? The company is not just a provider of satellite dishes for TVs these days, said Ranmal: 

We're no longer that business anymore. We try to move forward. We're trying to understand what our customers want. We want to integrate with their their lifestyles. What are their needs when they're in their home?

Ranmal cited the practical example of the way that Sky engages with customers who are moving home and need to get their broadband account moved with them. This used to be something that had to be handled by calling in to an advisor and jumping through various hoops. Over an eight week discovery period, Sky worked with Contentsquare and Optimizely to look at data that would provide insight into what customers wanted, not least around upselling faster broadband products: 

We started to experiment on the app to say,  ‘Here is the broadband journey, here is where you can upgrade to now discover the speeds you could get'. So we experimented like that. This all came from the data.

What the data showed was "massive drop off" at stages of the customer journey here: 

Where did these guys drop off to? Do they leave the site?…You're leveraging that data and the information and all the technology you have in the business to make that a little bit better for your customer. And that makes it ultimately product-led, because at that point, we understood that actually a lot of people want to upgrade their broadband.

All of this has delivered positive metrics around the broadband business, he added, with 24-hour calls answered down  by 30% and  24-hour calls specifically tagged with the Broadband Home Move intent reduced by 60% :

Calling in is very expensive for an organization like sky so dropping that by 30% is amazing. Average handling time has gone down by 15%. So the customers that do call in, they've already understood and they've seen what they can have. The conversation becomes a lot smaller, so that's a massive saving. What was a 45 minute journey when a customer calls through to an advisor, we've got it down to about seven minutes average lead on digital. So that's a massive win, right? A massive, massive win.

And the good news: 

The CEO likes those numbers.

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