Business / technology

Making telcos better since 2006

Bulb Technologies, a digital process automation company

Since 2006, the largest telcos across Europe, including Deutsche Telekom, Telekom Austria, and United groups, have been using Bulb solutions to provide a superior and personalised customer experience across all networks, fixed, mobile and cable and devices.

Bulb’s Digital Experience Suite includes software solutions for customer care process automation, proactive customer experience management, automated problem solving and advanced CEM analytics. Bulb helps to deliver a superior customer experience and reduces customer support costs.

Their headquarters are in Centar Bundek in Zagreb, and we had the chance to ask Izeta Samardžić, their Marketing Manager, a bunch of questions. Read on!

The Bulb was founded in 2006, and at its core, has telco expertise. What inspired the business idea at the time?

Our inspiration came from a desire to transform the way we serve our customers and introduce a new way of working – a world-class customer service experience that is fully digital, customer-centric and cutting-edge for our customers. 

We had the opportunity to experience firsthand how stressful and difficult it was for customer service representatives to help customers resolve their issues. Nowadays, people are more tech-savvy than 15 years ago, and it’s much easier to explain technical things to them. But back then, agents had it tough, and customers grew more annoyed by the minute. 

Imagine your internet connection is down, and you need to send an essential item to the customer for review. Of course, you do not have time to wait for the agent to figure out the problem or how to help you. This is why we created Cempresso. At that time, only a few of us in Bulb Tech, true enthusiasts who wanted to make a difference in the Croatian market and change the way we interacted with support agents. 

We used our knowledge and experience to create an intuitive tool that reinvented the way agents solve service issues and interact with customers. 

It turned out that our product was a complete success—innovative, user-friendly, filled with important information, precisely what both agents and customers need.

How did the telco experience help you with the introduction to new markets like banking and utilities, and what are the similarities? 

Big question. Right now, Bulb has about 70 employees, primarily engineers who come from the telecommunications industry. It’s important to know that 15 years ago, the telecom industry was leading the way in digital transformation and innovation. 

And we were there to see it happen. There is probably no other industry that is as complex and challenging as the telecom industry. 

Large IT landscapes, often legacy systems inherited from smaller providers that have been integrated into the larger telecom group. They also have complex processes, a long list of departments interconnected in every process, a responsibility matrix that changes almost every year, and a complicated service delivery process. 

We had to overcome every challenge that telecommunications brought and find a seamless solution for everyone. And that’s precisely why today we fear no challenge that our potential customers bring to the table.

What were the most significant changes in the customer care programs you witnessed during the last 15 years?

I would say that the biggest change was putting the customer first and realising the importance of providing world-class support to customers. 

The change in mindset within companies has played the biggest role in this. 

Years ago, the role of a customer service representative was underrated; it was seen as a job that required no skill, no ability, no talent. But over time, that general perception changed. 

Companies began to realise that what makes a great company, a great brand, is a great product and the excellent support processes throughout the organisation. It became clear that agents were the industry’s hidden gems, and for this role, you needed to have a range of excellent skills – from communication skills, empathy, sales skills to strong technical skills. 

It became critical to differentiate premium support from the average to bring customers to you. Companies today look up to brands like Netflix, Uber, and Amazon, and that’s great. Customers love that. 

That ‘you matter to us’ concept, the whole customer-centric buzzword. Of course, there’s still a lot of work to be done to achieve the best support, but the most important thing is that it’s happening.

Building better relationships with customers can shape better products. If you could pin-point the most sensitive part of the customer care cycle, what would that be? 

I believe that every part of the Customer Care Journey is the most sensitive. Whether you are a premium brand or a budget brand, customers expect and want premium support. The fact is that customers can move to another provider as soon as their contract expires, so it’s essential to give them a reason not to leave. 

I always try to think of what would be a reason for me to cancel a contract. And the answer is always that if I cannot rely on a quick resolution to a problem and availability of service. I do not need fancy gifts and promotional materials or even a billing discount. 

That’s why we have focused on simplifying the most complex process that causes significant inconvenience for both customers and agents. 

Think about it: Would you leave your provider if you knew the customer service representative would help you quickly and without trying five different solutions to your problem? 

Or if you did not have to call customer service to solve a technical problem, you could instead use a digital tool to help yourself 24/7? I wouldn’t.

Can you describe for an average user what Cempresso does? 

Cempresso is a tool that transforms complex business processes, usually disconnected and managed through many standalone applications, into a simplified and workflow-driven process managed through one screen, no matter how many departments and instances are in it. 

To simplify it even further, imagine you want a new service from your service provider. With Cempresso, you can fill out an online service request form and then forward your request to, for example, a back-office person who will check and confirm that you have entered all relevant data and uploaded all required documents. 

After that, the same request automatically goes to the CRM system and completes the activation and triggers new service delivery tasks – delivery of a new mobile phone, delivery of contract documents and onboarding brochures to the customer, call from the welcome team to personally greet you since you have become a new customer of the company. 

The list of possible use cases is quite long, but the main goal is to reduce complexity on the customer side, avoiding visiting the branch, calling customer service, sending copies of documents to different departments, and having to depend on working hours to solve a problem you might have. Then on the company side it minimises paperwork, reduces the number of applications needed, and enables Machine2Machine interactions to speed up the process, reducing manual inputs to the systems.

Surely we have a great product that can help citizens and change the way they think about Croatian local government, and hopefully, we will get a chance to demonstrate it to decision-makers.

Are there any similar brands to yours, and if yes, what are your key differentiators? 

There are similar brands worldwide, but in Southeast Europe, we are the market leader and have maintained this position since our inception. 

Our product portfolio is exactly what makes Cempresso the only platform you will ever need. Our strategy has always been to offer a well-rounded portfolio that allows companies to provide excellent reactive care, then leverage our analytics stack for root cause analysis and remediation definition, and finally move to world-class proactive care. 

That’s the big picture behind our story, which we know works thanks to feedback from our customers. We try to support all stakeholders in this process: Customers, Agents, Back Office, Technical Department, Business Analysts, Finance Department, Digital Transformation, Network Operations and Management, External Technical Support, Wholesale, etc. 

Over the years, we have grown and built long-term relationships with our clients, and we are especially proud of it. One thing has not changed since day one – we help them evolve and transform by finding the best solution for their needs. 

Thanks to our in-depth expertise and integration capabilities, we can respond to all the demands placed on us. Therefore, our customers trust us and why we are their provider of choice when it comes to automation and digitalisation.

You recently secured an investment worth 7 million euros thanks to a strategic partnership. What does it mean for your immediate and upcoming plans? 

We believe that the result of this strategic collaboration will significantly accelerate Bulb’s development. 

We have gained a good reputation on the regional market as a company providing advanced and reliable software solutions from the CEM segment in the past reporting period. 

In addition to further funding development activities, this partnership gives us access to international markets as well as direct access to over 260 existing customers in 58 global markets where M+ Group operates. Our goal is for Bulb to become a strong international software company leading in the areas of process digitalisation and user experience management.

If you could point out a few major client implementation milestones, what would they be? (Your biggest project achievements). 

This is a tough one, simply because we delivered so many awesome projects throughout the years that it is almost impossible to choose one or two to describe here. 

All our projects have in common, I must say, that they were crucial in delivering benefits defined in digital transformation plans. 

To put it simply, most companies aim to reduce cost, enhance efficiency, deflect calls from customer service, and boost customer experience and retention. Usually, to achieve all of these things, you need a few projects, not only one. The beauty of Cempresso is that it delivers all of them in one go. 

How does it work?

Imagine Cempresso like an octopus placed into a company’s existing IT landscape that leverages all systems you already have in place, analyses the data from these systems and summarises important data for the agent. 

After this, Cempresso guides the agent through the troubleshooting process with a step-by-step workflow to the resolution. 

This way, a company doesn’t have to spend weeks training their agents since they only have to learn one application and follow the workflow. 

Additionally, Cempresso ensures that every agent performs the exact steps to assure a unified process throughout the company. 

Its multichannel feature lets you use various channels to deflect calls and empower your customers with innovative solutions such as digital technicians available 24/7. 

That one sounds interesting!

My parents are close to 70, they don’t understand technology at all, but they always want to have Internet and TV. While they used their previous provider, they kept calling me for every single thing that did not work. And then I called the Telecom customer service, and we played this faulty phone game. 

I explained it to them how my dad explained it to me, the agent was confused since he did not know what to do, and this lasted for hours just to ‘figure out’ what ‘might’ be the problem. 

Now they are using another provider that has a self-service application enriched with Cempresso troubleshooting tools. So now, whenever there is a problem, my parents call me, I simply log in to the app and do my own troubleshooting. 

90% of the time, I can fix it on my own, and the remaining 10% when it is not solvable remotely, due to the severity of the problem, I report a ticket and either an agent or technician solves it as soon as possible. The beauty of it is that I don’t have to explain anything because Cempresso keeps all logs in history, and everyone can read it if needed. 

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