How Liberty Global Is ‘Living Up’ To Cross-Industry Competition

Rhona Bradshaw, VP of customer experience transformation at Liberty Global, has a key role in a company experiencing its own fundamental shift: evolving its legacy infrastructure to compete with a host of digital-native competitors.

How Liberty Global Is ‘Living Up’ To Cross-Industry Competition

by CMO by Adobe EMEA Staff

Posted on 07-23-2018

Rhona Bradshaw, VP of customer experience transformation at Liberty Global, has a key role in a company experiencing its own fundamental shift: evolving its legacy infrastructure to compete with a host of digital-native competitors. Working with Liberty Global regional brands UPC Ireland and Virgin Media since 2006, she made the move to the international TV and broadband holding company last year.

Tasked with a wide-ranging remit to transform digital experiences for company employees and consumers over a five-year period, Bradshaw said she is enjoying her strategic focus. She told how the company’s full-circle programme Atlas is encouraging agile thinking and a new pace of change. Can you give us some background on the company and your role?

Bradshaw: We have more than 13 different companies across Europe, with 26,000 employees serving around 26 million customers. You would know us more by our local brands, such as Virgin Media in the U.K., Telenet in Belgium, or Unitymedia in Germany.

Essentially, my role is to help the business transform the type of experiences we offer–how we think about the end customer and how they feel about the way they interact with us. I’m trying to drive digital conversations, interactions, and transactions so that we can be a lot more 21st century and engage with people in a way that will make them want to continue engaging with us. How has the way you engage with customers changed?

Bradshaw: What we’re finding is that all of our customers are becoming a lot more digitally savvy. They’re interacting through devices like their mobiles and tablets more frequently. They’re expecting us as a business to offer them experiences and interactions that live up to those that they’re having with other brands. We see ourselves as that kind of an aggregator of choice for customers, so whether it’s the content that you can access through our set-top boxes like Netflix, for example, or whether it’s just the connectivity that you use in your devices to access other brands that you engage with, we see that as being the ultimate end-to-end experience for our customer. You alluded to cross-vertical competition. How do you deal with that?

Bradshaw: I think it’s one of the major challenges for our business and in the wider industry. Customers don’t necessarily compare us to the same brands or the same companies that do what we do. For them, the Ubers, the Amazons, or anybody that they’re interacting with on a day-to-day basis is the comparator that you have to live up to. People don’t necessarily think about the fact that in the UK, for example, Sky is our natural competitor. If they’re able to order something on Amazon and get it the next day, they don’t understand why they can’t do the same thing with Virgin Media, our UK business. These digital native companies have really transformed expectations of experience. They’re the leaders in this space, and they’re the ones that we’re trying to catch up with and learn from. And how willing are your customers to trade data for those great experiences?

Bradshaw: I think there is a little bit of a misnomer that people don’t necessarily want personalisation because of the data trade that comes with it. What we’ve found is that actually, when 80% of people come online, they want to have that personalised experience. Those that have a personalised experience when they come back to us are much more likely to convert than those who have returned and not seen any sort of recognition that they’ve been there before. We see a range of about 10% to 15% higher conversion when we personalise something versus actually when we just keep a vanilla message out there. That’s super important for us to know. It illustrates the importance of respecting the customer’s data, but also being able to use it in the most effective way to enhance their experiences. I understand that you’re undergoing a wide-reaching digital transformation programme. What does that involve?

Bradshaw: We refer to it internally as Atlas, and it’s all about transforming our customer experience and transforming our business so that we can meet the needs of our customers. More importantly, though, it’s about embedding that pace of change in our operations so that we can live up to the type of competition coming our way. It’s founded on three core pillars: technology, experience, and culture.

The technology piece is all about having a single stack, a single architecture that allows us to do more and to do it faster. The experience pillar is about making sure that we think about the art of the possible, the type of utopian experiences that people want to have with us, whether it’s using the latest tech or just having a seamless end-to-end experience when they start in one channel and decide to finish in another. The culture element concerns our operating model and the principles that we hold closest. It also looks at the skill set of the future and the type of people that we need in our organisation to create sustainable change.

We want to create an ecosystem that allows us to connect all three elements, and we see the cultural aspect as being the underpinning piece across the whole thing. So how do you go about trying to create that cultural change?

Bradshaw: We’re trying to think about different ways that we can encourage people to be a little bit more agile in their thinking when they’re involved in problem solving or planning. There’s no pill that you can take to fix this; it takes time and requires patience. My colleagues and I need to do an awful lot of influencing. It will involve lots of small proofs of concepts along the way, trying to demonstrate the power or the validity of change and how it can be positive. It’s about having a north star or a vision that you can commit to that will help you stay on course, while recognising that sometimes you have to deviate when unexpected things happen.

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