Bringing customer experience up to speed in the telecoms industry
Consumers have more choice and higher expectations than ever in the digital age and this is impacting every sector, particularly telecoms.
According to the latest Which? Report on the best and worst brands for customer service, telecoms providers are struggling to meet rising customer expectations. Several of the UK’s leading telecoms providers were ranked in the bottom five with respondents citing unreliable service, poor value for money and complicated complaints management for their low scores, says Chris Proctor, CEO of Oneserve.
Indeed, Oneserve’s recent survey on customer experience in the telecoms industry found that 47% of internet and phone customers’ experience was just ‘okay’ with 17% reporting either a poor experience or no experience at all. Almost half of those internet and phone customers surveyed said they were unsure if they would recommend their provider.
Overcoming industry hurdles
With its largely mobile workforce, increased customer demand, siloed operations which are not customer-centric and the high cost of running field service operations; delivering a consistent customer experience has become a challenge for providers.
Telecoms is also a highly competitive landscape. Recent research from BDO has revealed that 76% of telecoms executives are worried about intensifying competition and with 5G developments expected to improve the coverage offering for everyone, average customer service is just not enough to secure loyalty and retention.
What this presents, however, is a golden opportunity for providers to elevate their customer experience and stand out in a crowded market.
A new approach to the customer
Customer experience is now the main brand differentiator above price and product for consumers. It is disrupting traditional business models and compelling businesses to think differently about their customers. As a result, telecoms like the retail and utilities industries, is having to evolve rapidly and re-focus its priorities to keep up with changing customer needs and expectations.
Making this cultural shift is a challenge for any organisation and it is not helped by the change of pace in consumer behaviour. This is especially true for telecoms since, in the past, providers have arguably been more focused on developing their products rather than meeting the needs of the individual customer.
Yet embracing customer centricity from the ground up is vital to change this historical mindset within the telecoms industry and deliver personalised interactions and a faster resolution when problems arise. Engaging with customers and analysing their feedback is crucial to understand what customers want from their provider. This customer knowledge must then be filtered through each level of the organisation so that each employee understands and values what customers want and need, helping to ensure a higher standard of service and satisfaction.
Providers should also be benchmarking their customer experience levels against customer-obsessed brands such as Amazon, DPD and Netflix, who have set the bar for instant and personalised services. Each of these businesses has a customer-centric culture which utilises data to understand and enhance the customer experience.
These are the brands which telecoms customers interact with on a daily basis and have front of mind as their reference point when assessing the service they have received from their telecoms provider. Telcos must expand their point of reference beyond their sector and borrow best practices from other organisations if they hope to exceed customer expectations.
Legacy technology is hindering progress
A customer-obsessed culture will lay the foundation for better customer experiences in telecoms. The actual delivery of more reliable, value-led service then comes down to using the right technology.
Many providers still struggle with outdated systems and manual processes to manage office teams and mobile workers separately, resulting in slower service and more inaccuracies. Arguably, there is still some inertia too around embracing new technologies.
By taking advantage of the latest Field Service Management (FSM) software, the industry has the necessary tools to support them in keeping up to date with modern customer demands whilst also reducing operating costs.
Research from McKinsey & Company shows that advanced technology can reduce travel time for mobile workers by up to 30% with productivity improving by up to 30%. Through digitising and automating processes, previously siloed teams are united and can collaborate efficiently in real-time so that jobs are completed more quickly and the end customer enjoys a better service.
Telecoms companies can also benefit from the latest digital and analytics capabilities to better understand the customer journey. Harnessing customer feedback and other data is vital for increased customer knowledge, so that operatives have a richer understanding of the customer profile, as well as identifying where iments can be made and new services introduced for continual innovation.
Empowering mobile teams to deliver the job
The industry’s vast mobile workforce makes it difficult to ensure consistent and excellent service, which is why embracing digital tools to streamline workflows and ensure operatives are dispatched quickly, to the right jobs, is essential.
For example, equipping field workers with mobile applications which enable them to update the progress of jobs in real-time will help them to deliver great service on the job to each customer. Operatives can use the app to share important updates with the customer, improving the reliability and accuracy of their service. Having the correct customer information at their fingertips also empowers workers to provide a service that is personalised to today’s expected standards.
Apps also improve the live information exchange between workers in the field and back office teams which is crucial for collaboration and accurate scheduling, enabling mobile workers to quickly get to the next job and assist more customers.
The future is customer experience
It is time for telecoms to bring customer experience up to speed along with the latest connectivity developments. A legacy mindset around the customer experience and outdated FSM technologies are ultimately preventing the industry from evolving in line with modern expectations. Embracing a new customer-centric culture, measuring service levels against brands in other sectors and adopting future-facing digital solutions, will help to equip the industry in order to meet soaring demand and maintain exceptional service for the future.
Oneserve specialise in award-winning field service management software for a range of industries including Local Government, Social Housing, Utilities and Telecoms.
The author is Chris Proctor, CEO of Oneserve