Excellence in customer experience provides an opportunity for differentiation, part 2.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

The customer journey is full of opportunities to deliver a better experience, but telecoms continues to perform badly and fails to take advantage of them. Mobile subscribers need better experiences, from onboarding to upgrade – and mobile providers need the systems to deliver them.

Recently, we highlighted research from the Institute of Customer Service that ranked performance in customer service across different sectors. It made uncomfortable reading for the telecoms industry, as the report found that this was the worst performing sector. Although there has been some improvement, even the gains were less than in other fields.

The Institute identified six focus areas that it believes will “help organisations develop customer experience strategies that deliver sustained performance and generate loyalty and recommendation”. In the second part of this series, let’s zoom in on the first three of these.

  1. Making experiences easier
  2. Preventing problems at source
  3. Consistency across channels (especially phone and email)
How can experiences be made easier? Well, for a start, it should be easy to buy a service, whether sold online or via a retail outlet, getting the product into the hands of the customer should be a painless, trouble-free process. If there are checks to be made, then they need to be performed swiftly and without unnecessary barriers. Once a customer has been gained, how are they served new offers and promotions to extend and enhance their experience? It’s a never-ending process and it becomes a discipline that must cover all touch points and throughout the lifecycle of a customer.

Mobile service providers need to ensure that they properly plan the customer journey, so that they can deliver a frictionless process. That’s not easy but since customer retention has a high value, it’s essential to properly think through processes to smooth the customer path.

A key part of this must be to prevent problems at source – after all, poor service delivery is often preventable, so even if slips are made, the service provider must rectify them and ensure that any negative events are turned into positives. There’s a lot to be learnt from other sectors here – how many mobile providers offer tokens or rewards when something goes wrong, however minor? But, such practices are often normal and other players have taken steps to empower their employees to make discretionary awards of vouchers and credits without referral to any supervisory authority.

That’s a big step – it means that even while ensuring that there is no repetition of a known problem, there is an increased likelihood that a negative experience can be converted to a positive without losing a customer.  €5 of free credit can go a long way in helping retain a customer – and is a lot less than finding a new one!

But, this also applies to the start of a relationship. Just as mobile service providers need to make experiences easier, preventing problems at source means ensuring a satisfactory (or exemplary) welcome and onboarding programme. Getting customers started should be simple, but it is often not. How you help them to get over this hurdle is crucial, so attention must be paid to the whole onboarding process.

And, it should go without saying – but rarely does – that consistency is essential. Every communication to the customer needs to share the same messages and not provide conflicting information, regardless of whether it’s from a sales agent or whether it’s from an email inviting a service upgrade. This also means that mobile service providers must take steps to ensure the relevance of any communication or offers and they should also consider ways to inform customers of changes to plans and offers.

For example, telling people about price rises is one thing but helping existing customers to choose the best price plan is quite another. All too many providers are happy to leave customers stranded on legacy plans that do not suit their needs – but that risks backfiring if they discover newer pricing! So, the tools to help ensure that customers are given the optimum plans are a vital element of relationship management, for example.

All of this takes thought – and, while some of it depends designing good processes and the people to execute them correctly, there’s much that can be automated, if only the right tools are available. Do your systems give you the flexibility to really help your customers? Can they ensure that offers are tuned to people’s specific needs?

And, there’s more – come back soon for part 3. As ever, if you can’t wait until then, why not get in touch to see how Digitalk Mobile Cloud can help you boost customer experience for your mobile business?
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