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Foxtel on Keeping Transformation Projects on Track and Customers at the Centre

Foxtel’s mission is straightforward: make it easier for people to watch the TV they love. To achieve that mission, they’re focusing on improving customer experiences – which maybe isn’t quite as straightforward. It has required a large, cross-functional transformation project in a complex business, within a disruptive industry, partially during a public health crisis that heightened customer needs and expectations.

So how have they done it? 

Adam King, Group Director of Customer, Marketing, Audience Enablement and Corporate Technology, and Jason Smith, Director of Service and Agent Experience, share how they never let a big plan get in the way of making the sometimes small – but meaningful – steps that improve customer experience day by day. Here they share three key pieces of advice for achieving customer-focused digital transformation.

1. Stay focused but flexible

“Most big programs struggle with rigidity,” says Adam King. “You go in with the best intentions, thinking you know where you’re going to end up in 18 months. But the last 18 months has shown us that’s probably not the most prudent approach.”

“So you need something that can be agile in terms of what you’re building as well as agile in the way that you work.”

Best laid plans are all very well, but as we’ve seen over recent months, the real test for a company is what they can do when those plans get turned upside down.

For Foxtel, that meant a surge in people streaming shows from home at all hours of the day and an increase in associated support requests. “We can’t control what time of the day they might be on,” says Jason. “And when things go wrong, we need to be able to offer really strong real-time digital solutions.” The recent State of Service report shows Foxtel is not alone, with 81% of service decision makers accelerating digital initiatives due to the pandemic. Those initiatives are no longer just ‘nice to have’ – they are now a necessity. 

Part of getting that all important flexibility and agility right is embracing it as a mindset. Often we become wedded to the idea that we have our strategy laid out and everything has to be in place before we can get started. Sometimes, you just have to get started and snap up some quick wins. 

“We have a longer term strategy for implementing Salesforce,” says Jason. “But rather than wait to be able to do everything all at once, we started last year to pick off some of the key opportunities that could help us build a foundation. We were looking for where those immediate quick win opportunities could be and how we could start getting our agents and customers used to the platform. We’ve started to build on that, and then we’ll rapidly scale in 2022.”

2. Make the marathon a series of sprints

The transformation from legacy systems to a single platform for seamless, integrated omni-channel experience is no mean feat. As Adam says, it’s a project that not only involves delivering a newly customer-centric service experience, “it’s also about making sure we’ve got a very clear sales journey, and retention and reacquisition journey. It’s about the entire life cycle of the customer.”

So how do you approach eating that elephant? How do you get started with that level of transformation?

“You have to break it down into manageable chunks, which enables the team to be very focused on their objectives and aligns nicely with that agile sprint-based approach. It gets you to success a little quicker.”

For Foxtel, that means using the lessons of their start-up Stream Motion business to inform the transformation of the established Foxtel side of the business. “We have this body of case studies, examples, references, things that have been successful or not so successful – it’s a learning platform that we can use to help in our decision-making around the digital transformation of the Foxtel business.”

Yes, every big project means looking forward to some form of end goal in the future, and Foxtel are focused on what that future looks like for their customer. But getting there doesn’t happen in one big stride. It’s a marathon broken down into sprints – sprints that can change direction as needed.

3. Let customer needs determine implementation priorities

“Our focus is always on the customer and figuring out how to deliver a really great premium experience to our Foxtel subscribers,” says Adam.

It’s a focus that informs every aspect of the business including decision making around priorities. “How do you prioritise the functions you want to put in place?” says Adam. “For example, if you want to implement a bot you have to look at what job that bot does. What is the value it adds compared to the complexity involved in implementation?”

According to the State of Service report, 88% of service teams say the pandemic exposed tech gaps in their organisation. Those gaps can rarely be closed overnight.

“So how do you pick which jobs to accelerate so you can deliver improvements to efficiencies and customer experience, but not lose sight of dealing with the bigger, more complex jobs? This is always going to involve some hard questions about what you choose not to unpack right away.”

At Foxtel, implementation of messaging and social capabilities, for example, very quickly became a priority for fast implementation. They had not only experienced an increase in the volume of interactions but also in the complexity of the customer use cases. Introducing social and messaging tools took less than ten weeks and made the agents’ days easier within a couple of months with customers responding to a more efficient conversation and an overall more seamless experience. 

A comprehensive digital overhaul of customer experience is a major project – big enough to get lost in. Find your way and stay the course with careful prioritisation (and always with the customers’ most urgent needs in mind), a flexible approach in a shifting landscape, and a willingness to go for small wins while keeping the bigger picture afloat.

For more insights into changing service trends, download the State of Service report.

Derek Laney

Derek Laney is Head of Solutions and Product Marketing, Asia Pacific at Salesforce. He tweets @derektweets.

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