PLDT Chief Revenue Officer and Smart Communications President and CEO Alfredo S. Panlilio says providing world-class customer experience is the best way to serve the new generation of Filipino consumers.
“Today’s customers will compare their experience of your service, not only with your competitors, but with other services in the world–whether it’s a booking app or a banking app,” said Panlilio, pointing out that Filipino consumers expect customer experience that is at par with best-in-class global companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Google.
“At the end of the day, we would like to make sure that our customer engagement is good, and that our customers are responding positively to the kind of experience that we deliver,” Panlilio added, in an interview with Maulik Parekh of The Futureproof Leader podcast.
Returning to PLDT and Smart in 2019, Panlilio identified three areas that are key to the companies’ success. “We have to be excellent in three things: Operational efficiency, innovation and customer experience,” Panlilio said.
However, Panlilio emphasized the importance of customer experience. “We have to be world-class in at least one aspect, and that is customer experience. Our North Star is the customer,” Panlilio said.
Asked about his vision for PLDT and Smart in the next ten years, Panlilio said that the focus should ultimately be in improving within the company. “We need to improve ourselves first, beat our personal best and keep getting better and stronger. This is the only way to beat competition – be the best in the industry and serve our customers better than anyone else,” he said.
“By 2030, we hope to continue being the leader in customer experience. We also ought to be more digital by then, with a platform in place that makes it easy for our customers to engage with us whenever they need us. Technology is driving us there, especially 5G. We hope to make customer engagement seamless and simple–this is the only way we can continue to be top-of-mind for our customers,” he said.
Pioneer in 5G
Panlilio said that PLDT and Smart’s target in the next three years is to further ramp-up nationwide coverage for 5G.
“Last year, we made the bold decision to accelerate 5G, and I’m glad we did that,” he said, underscoring how using 5G-ready equipment in Smart’s 4G rollout has helped make the 5G rollout easier and more efficient.
As of May, Smart has fired up more than 3,000 5G sites across the country and is currently the Philippines’ fastest and widest 5G network.
“It is important for us to expand 5G coverage. Today, we are launching 5G data subscription packages. We launched Unli 5G. We are encouraging our customers to upgrade to Smart 5G-certified handsets, so that they can experience and maximize our 5G network,” he said.
Since 2019, Panlilio has been rallying PLDT and Smart employees behind his vision of putting customer experience first.
“I think everybody has embraced that idea that we really need to serve our customers. We do have some issues; we must improve our customer care. We must get out of these silos and hyper-collaborate across all teams to make it happen. There are still a lot of processes that we need to streamline,” he said, adding that this ‘two-way street’ involves making sure that people are empowered and held accountable at the same time.
Panlilio also highlighted the role of leaders like him in mentoring and coaching their people. “I think we should allow people to speak up, allow people to give their inputs. We should allow people to fail – fail fast and learn. It is another effective way to do better,” he said.
With a lot of these measures already working out, from hyper-collaboration to espousing the same mindset, Panlilio aims to bring back the passion and confidence among PLDT and Smart employees: “I want to rekindle that passion, that confidence that we can do it, with the energy and the synergy among people to work together again and be number one again, particularly in Wireless. We are almost there.”