Customers Take Your Business Personally – So Make It Personal!


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Few customer experiences are as renowned as the world-famous Disney Parks, which employ over 130,000 employees to serve over 140 million guests a year. Sure, it’s not a digital customer experience, but producing consistent and great experiences in the physical world are surely even harder than in the virtual sphere. Thus, how can it be that mobile operators (who know far more personal stuff about their customers than Disney does) are unable to serve customers properly even when it comes to the simple basics? As the latest Temkin Group ( and UKCSI ( research shows, year after year telecoms deliver lower customer satisfaction than most other industries.

So what can telecoms learn from Disney and apply to the digital telecommunication experience?

Disney shows that we need to aim for a segment of one– which is to say the individual customer – in a way that both makes the experience feel personal for every customer and yet is deliverable on a mass scale. The baseline experience is the same for everyone, but – for example – having your favourite Disney character come up and congratulate when you celebrate your birthday in the park is, particularly for young visitors and their families, something magical. They do this even in Windsor Legoland, so how is it that your operator doesn’t even drop you an SMS on the day?

Personalisation and a real focus on the customer experience are challenging, however, we need to accept that it’s worth the effort.

Various research shows that increases in customer satisfaction and loyalty are worth billions to customer-facing industries. Forrester’s research shows that an increase of just one point on the Customer Experience index (CXi) metrics could be worth $278m to Communications Service Providers and $84m to Internet Service Providers (

Forresters Customer Experience Index Online Survey, 2016, US Consumers
Forresters Customer Experience Index Online Survey, 2016, US Consumers

Clearly, service providers need to understand and serve their customers on an individual level. And as importantly, they need the technical capability that will help them turn data and insights into highly personalised and contextual customer service, adapting to changing customer needs while optimising both customer experience and business outcomes.

For this, new technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be key ( We argue that many companies are misguided in their efforts to apply AI to the customer-facing front-end when it is not yet capable of effectively replacing human-to-human interaction. But AI backed up with advanced analytics and intelligent data processing can prepare everything in the back office that will allow the digital or human front line to serve the customer in a personalised way. Chatbots and similar automated interfaces can already deliver some of this to the customer but will fail if the right data is not available at the right time and if supporting systems are insufficiently adaptive to translate it into a personalised customer experience.

In the digital age, customers take business personally and are all too ready to express their emotional engagement, good or (even more so) bad to the world through social media, with sometimes devastating results. Telcos need to be equally committed to how they engage with customers (

What do you think your company or other companies you are familiar with should do to personalise your experience with them? Join the discussion!

Janne Ohtonen, Ph.D.
Dr Janne Ohtonen, Director of Customer Experience Management, has dedicated his life to making this world a better place to all customers. He fights against bad customer experiences, ensuring that companies serving their customers are not only profitable but also enjoyable to do business with for a long time.


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