How NBN has failed the customer – our advice to the CEO

by | Jan 7, 2018

In an interview last week on ABC Radio National, NBN’s CEO, Bill Morrow, implied that the NBN’s 25% customer dissatisfaction score was acceptable. In an age where customer centricity is currency, this message of mediocrity is staggering. While NBN may argue that they are a wholesaler and not responsible for the end- consumer, the reality is that he NBN has lost sight of and marginalised Australian customers when the customer should be at the very centre of everything it does.

A quick scan of today’s marketplace will show that successful corporates, governments and start-ups can easily outperform their counterparts by doing one thing – being relentless about customer-focus. Customer-centricity sets the vision for the entire organisation, and all internal processes, culture and customer interactions can be aligned  toward the end goal of delighting the customer.

What the nation heard from the NBN CEO is an unacceptable attitude for a public service provider to take. It is an abdication of the responsibility to provide customer satisfaction as a 101 fundamental. NBN customers are being poorly served, but what we hear from NBN, the government and the telcos is blame shifting. NBN blames the telcos, the telcos blame NBN, and everyone blames the government.

In our view, the responsibility sits fairly and squarely with NBN. They have lost sight of the customer as the end user of the service. The telcos are simply the NBN’s channel to the customer. Passing the blame for a poor experience onto the channel is a weak position to take. Can you imagine Amazon blaming poor customer experience on one of its suppliers? Of course not. Because Amazon takes responsibility for the end-to-end delivery of the service it provides to customers. And the success of that approach speaks for itself.

This is our advice to the CEO of NBN, Bill Morrow:
  1. Place the customer at the heart of all that your organisation does.
  2. Empathise with your customer around their experience. Get out of the office and go and talk to customers about their expectations, experiences and issues. As a leader you should actually go and sit down with customers yourself. Understand the pain of the 25% (these are the ones you know of, there are doubtless many others who are dissatisfied but have not complained).
  3. Reform the culture of NBN – make it responsive not defensive, and engaged not detached from the customers’ needs. The user of your service is your customer, your responsibility, and will define your success (or failure).
  4. If the channel delivering the service is inadequate, change the channel.
  5. Set up a customer-centric task force to map out each and every user experience in a journey map, and relentlessly pursue the pain points until they are remedied.
  6. Use Design Thinking as your modus operandi. Make empathy the tool you use to define the problems you need to solve, ideate on those problems, and follow through by developing prototypes to offer customers for their response.
  7. Use Lean Startup thinking to validate or invalidate the assumptions underlying the NBN business model.
  8. Show leadership and set the bar high. Insist on excellence and don’t accept mediocrity.

In our work with corporate and government clients we support them to reorientate their vision, and their internal structure and strategy, so that they are organised around the customer and the customers’ journeys and experiences. Design Thinking is one of the tools we use to deliver this reorientation. It begins with diving deep into the world of the customer, empathising with the customer’s needs, pains and gains and closely observing the customer’s behaviour.

What we call Strategy from the Outside-In is the process of making our client’s goals align with the customer’s view of the world. We then employ the Lean Start-up methodology to test the assumption that the customer will want to buy the products and services that the organisation is developing.

Mr Morrow, we believe you have an opportunity to salvage the NBN and deliver a national broadband network that will delight the customer and empower Australia’s innovation agenda. We’d be delighted to help you realise this vision.

Want to learn more about driving customer centricity through your organisation? Get in touch.

About Jeffrey Tobias

Managing Director, The Strategy Group

Jeffrey’s career in innovation and the application of information technology has spanned the worlds of academia, big and small business, government and research. His leadership, clarity of thought, creativity and drive have generated cutting edge advances and successes in business. Jeffrey is an accomplished strategist with years of commercial and business experience. During his career, Dr Tobias has incubated and grown a medium sized business to $100m in revenue, participated in public service policy formulation, led the Smart Internet Technology CRC as CEO, sought venture funding and managed funds, built vertical markets in the healthcare and retail spaces, and used his entrepreneurial skills to start, grow and successfully sell a number of commercial operations. His most recent role was leading the global Innovations Practice for IBSG, Cisco Inc’s executive consulting arm. Dr Tobias is also an adjunct faculty member at the AGSM UNSW, and at the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Sydney.

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Managing Director, The Strategy Group

Jeffrey’s career in innovation and the application of information technology has spanned the worlds of academia, big and small business, government and research. His leadership, clarity of thought, creativity and drive have generated cutting edge advances and successes in business. Jeffrey is an accomplished strategist with years of commercial and business experience. During his career, Dr Tobias has incubated and grown a medium sized business to $100m in revenue, participated in public service policy formulation, led the Smart Internet Technology CRC as CEO, sought venture funding and managed funds, built vertical markets in the healthcare and retail spaces, and used his entrepreneurial skills to start, grow and successfully sell a number of commercial operations. His most recent role was leading the global Innovations Practice for IBSG, Cisco Inc’s executive consulting arm. Dr Tobias is also an adjunct faculty member at the AGSM UNSW, and at the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Sydney.

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