It should come as no surprise that telecommunications service providers are ranked as some of the worst-performing industries in terms of customer experience according to research done by Temkin and Forrester (Centriam, n.d.). Telecom customer experience is also getting worse according to ACSI reports (ACSI, 2018). Telcos have not developed customer centricity as part of their culture, despite consumer expectations growing regarding their experience. In an industry where the technology and services amongst Telcos are incredibly similar; a competitive advantage can be gained through providing a good customer experience.
The Main Challenges in CX
- Lack of access to product information
In the digital era, consumers have continually changing expectations when it comes to customer service. Since consumers have the luxury of always being connected, a culture of research and evaluation has emerged. Consumers want seamless access to product information to evaluate which product or service is suitable to their needs. As soon as acquiring product information becomes tedious (such as telephonic waiting periods to contact the sales or support team to acquire information regarding a product), consumers are less likely to bite. Should product information be provided, it is often complex and consumers are left to navigate it alone to find the best deals.
Despite digital advancements in CX, Telcos are slow to adopt these technologies, especially in a Post-Covid-19 age, where digital solutions have been propelled to the forefront. This advancement in utilising digital solutions has encouraged a trend for interactive technology to help choose what products/services they need, a personalised customer experience, and the ability to pick and choose individual services with ease.
2. Poor understanding of customer needs, expectations, and requirements
In order to deliver a personalised experience, Telcos are required to understand their customers and their specific needs. Telecom providers have the advantage of acquiring significant data related to their customer base, however, this data is not leveraged to its full potential. New digital tools have the ability to translate these massive loads of data into actionable analytics which can be used to appeal to their market. This data is vital in giving Telcos a direct line of insight into their customers’ behaviour, expectations and preferences (Popp et al., 2019). Leveraging these customer insights can lead to substantial benefits for Telecom providers, such as increased customer satisfaction, lower service and acquisition costs, an increased lifetime value of customers and reduced churn (Popp et al., 2019).
Example: Utilising an AI-powered virtual agent, such as Amelia from IPSoft, recognises consumer sentiment and emotion and uses this information to personalise user experiences. (Popp et al., 2019).
3. Misalignment between customer understanding and product specs.
You will often find that Telcos misinterpret consumers’ understanding of a product or service. If a customer misperceives a product’s specs, this can lead to dissatisfaction, mistrust, and confusion. In order to ensure that a client knows exactly what they are paying for, Telcos need to modify their experience to suit each customer’s level of understanding.
In order to eliminate customer confusion, and in turn, reduce customer service enquiries and therefore channel traffic, Telcos need to improve material intelligibility (Sone, n.d.). In other words, provide information that can be easily understood across their target market. An example to increase customers’ understanding of product information could be to present information digitally and visually using graphs and charts (Sone, n.d.).
In order to improve customer satisfaction, Telcos should utilise technology, business intelligence, and automation tools to improve their customer experience.
Customer satisfaction holds a myriad of benefits, especially in such a competitive market:
- Increasing customer loyalty: If a customer is satisfied with their experience, they are more likely to return to that service provider (Briganty, 2019). According to a study done by Bain & Company, increasing customer retention by 5% can increase profits from 25% – 95% (Reichheld, 2001). Customer retention not only increases the client’s lifetime value but also leads to customer referrals.
- Gain a competitive advantage: By providing a client with good customer service, they are less likely to move to a competitor (Briganty, 2019). Since Telcos provide similar services and the market is flooded, great customer service can cause a service provider to stand out above the rest.
- Reduces marketing expenses: A satisfied client will become advocates for your company, assisting in the generation of new clients (Briganty, 2019).
2018. ACSI TELECOMMUNICATIONS REPORT 2018. [ebook] ACSI LLC., pp.1, 19. Available at <https://www.theacsi.org/images/stories/images/reports/18may_telecom-report.pdf>
Briganty, C., 2019. How Telecommunications Operators can Increase Customer Satisfaction – Intraway Blog | Think Incredible. [online] Intraway. Available at: <https://www.intraway.com/blog/white-paper/Telecommunications-Customer-Satisfaction#:~:text=Customer%20satisfaction%20has%20positive%20outcomes,marketing%20costs%2C%20and%20attaining%20competitiveness.>
Centriam. n.d. How to get started with CX in telecom – Centriam. [online] Available at: <https://www.centriam.com/how-to-get-started-with-cx-in-telecom/>
Manning, H., 2018. The 2018 US Customer Experience Index. [online] Forrester. Available at: <https://www.forrester.com/what-it-means/ep70-cx-index/>
Popp, W., Rathi, V., Kukulies, D. and Oberholzer, N., 2019. UNLOCKING DIGITAL IN SOUTH AFRICA’S VALUE TELECOMS SECTOR. [ebook] Accenture Strategy, p.9. Available at: <https://www.accenture.com/_acnmedia/PDF-116/Accenture-Unlocking-Digital-Value-South-Africa-Telecoms-Sector.pdf>
Reichheld, F., 2001. Prescription for Cutting Costs. [ebook] Boston: BAIN & COMPANY, INC., p.1. Available at: <https://media.bain.com/Images/BB_Prescription_cutting_costs.pdf>
Sone, A., n.d. Customer Experience: Challenges and Solutions for the Telecommunications Industry. [ebook] Canada: Quadient, pp.6-7. Available at: <https://resources.quadient.com/m/61306a37e02770e6/original/white-paper-cx-challenges-and-solutions-for-telecommunications-industry-rebrand.pdf>