Having a fantastic product or service at an attractive price point used to be all you needed to win customers and build a successful business. However, in the digital age – where lines between markets are more blurred, more businesses than ever are offering similar products at great prices, and customers are finding they wield the power of unprecedented choice – the business battlefields are being fought on a different front.
Many businesses are touting customer experience as the most important factor driving success in 2018 and beyond. Recent research has found that companies rate customer experience as a more exciting business opportunity than both content marketing and mobile, and more than personalisation and social combined.
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In fact, it’s predicted that, by the year 2020, customer experience will become the key brand differentiator which determines success, overtaking price and product. 86% of consumers presently claim they are happy to pay more for a product or service if it means receiving a superior customer experience.
What Is Customer Experience?
Put simply, customer experience is the way your customers perceive the way your company treats them. Good customer experience can result in many benefits for a business, including improved customer retention, satisfaction, and increased opportunity of further sales opportunities.
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While one should be wary of taking social media comments as providing a representative sample of consumer opinion, one only has to look at some of the feedback and complaints left on mobile providers’ social media feeds to see swathes of people who do not feel they have been receiving a satisfactory customer experience.
In fact, when you look at the worst performing brands according to the Which? 2017 list of best and worst customer service, telecoms companies seem to be quite well represented.
Maybe, then, we should pay closer attention to those social media comments? Maybe the telecoms industry is a little behind the curve when it comes to delivering a great customer experience?
If this is the case, what can telecoms companies do to improve?
What are Telecoms Companies Getting Wrong?
There are a few reasons why telecoms companies are lagging behind when it comes to customer experience.
- Telecoms service involves complex networks of systems, which can make it difficult to get to the bottom of issues such as services outages or dropped calls.
- Many telecoms providers are still using outdated legacy systems which are in desperate need of updating. And those who are updating their systems can face more frustration by juggling old and new programs simultaneously.
- A certain detachment from the end user experience of their products and services and the associated behaviour patterns, which can be difficult to understand.
And further problems are encountered when it comes to trying to investigate the root causes of a negative customer experience.
- Too many OSS/BSS systems working in silos.
- A lack of skilled staff able to analyse and correlate customer and network data.
- The majority of data is being used to innovate rather than looking at present issues.
As you can see, telecoms companies have a mountain to climb when it comes to improving their customer experience. However, there are a few ways they can begin to move down that path.
Reinvestment in Technology
Telecoms companies need to invest in new technology to start moving towards improved customer experience. So important is the need for better and more appropriate technology that it should arguably take precedence over any of the other points which will follow this one.
Outdated legacy computer systems need to go and be replaced by efficient all-in-one software packages to more effectively handle complaints and queries.
In the past, customer service representatives had to use separate programs to look up customer details and carry out data protection checks, run line tests for both landline and broadband issues, book engineer appointments, and handle billing queries. Now all these issues can be handled from a single program capable of managing every aspect of a customer account.
Not only this, but the majority of landline telecoms services in the UK are running on infrastructure which is now over a century old. Therefore, it is important, that the upgrade to newer cable technology, such as fibre optic, continues at a rapid rate. Although, with the speed at which mobile internet technology is developing, the need for physical lines may soon be a thing of the past entirely.
Data is driving so much of business today and any company or industry not employing it to its fullest is missing out on opportunities to improve every avenue of what they do.
Telecoms companies gather billions of records and pieces of data on their clients. However, as well as using this data to develop new innovations, telecoms companies should also be using it to build new models of customer service.
By employing qualified data technicians, telecoms companies can analyse complaints and identify patterns of behaviour. This allows them to predict customer behaviour and frequent pain points and develop processes and systems to better address those issues.
Real-time data correlation engines can automate some of this process. If a call gets cut off, for example, the engine can quickly analyse all the possible reasons for the drop and provide insights into how it happened and what can be done to prevent such an outage occurring in the future. This allows engineers to react quickly and repair problems before they become a networkwide issue, and information can be fed back to customer service representatives, allowing them to inform customers as they call in, increasing their confidence that the issue is in hand.
As you can see, telecoms companies have much to gain by improving the experience they deliver to their customers. By using data and investing in technology, your business can help bring the industry forwards in this regard.
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