With the advent of new technology and the entry of a lot of new players into the market, the telecom industry is now more commoditized than ever. Customer churn is at an all time high. Telecom companies are now focusing on customer loyalty and retention, and rightly so. Customer experience is now becoming the true differentiator, rather than price.
Different touch points for customer experience
The 3 areas where telecom operators are focusing on customer experience are
- Fulfillment – the cycle time to take an order and ensure accurate delivery of services
- Service assurance – managing services and customer expectations to keep consumption high and cost of support low
- Billing and revenue – making billing accurate, on time and focused on customer convenience
Present state of customer experience in telecom
A surprising number of telecom operators focus on firefighting. They spend a lot of resources in resolving customer issues.
In the three important business areas, companies follow a tried-and-tested approach. They collect pain points, map customer feedback along with their journey and draw heat maps. To ease these pain points, they take up initiatives that
- Simplify customer communication and layout of bills,
- Reduce the amount of small print, and
- Improve self-installation procedures.
But this approach of just resolving customer frustrations is not going to be enough. Well traveled, educated and internet savvy youth of today expects superior levels of customer experience. Thus, their expectation of customer experience is much higher than what telecoms currently offer.
How can the telecom industry create a seamless customer experience process?
The path to improving customer experience, for a telecom player has four steps:
1.Creating a 360-degree customer view: Many telecom companies suffer from departmental silos. As their offerings increase, so do the number of teams handling these offerings. The casualty here is the customer. Companies need to develop 360-degree profiles of their customers through a unified CRM. Such a CRM helps agents upsell and cross-sell to the customer.
2.Use automation to resolve customer issues: IVRs are the most used technology by telecoms to handle incoming queries. However, in a lot of cases, they end up being the customer experience killers.
- Sitting through multiple menus,
- listening to the hold music for several minutes and
- often having to deal with an unhelpful agent can create a horrible customer experience.
A very compelling solution for this issue is AI-enabled chatbots. Chatbots can interact with customers through either voice or text. Using machine learning, they can resolve a good chunk of customer queries. Once the routine requests are routed to chatbots, the call center can now purely focus on using the human touch to upsell and cross-sell. Thus, the call center can now become a profit centre, rather than a cost centre.
3.Focus on an omnichannel experience: The number of channels through which a customer can reach the company is increasing day by day. It is important for a company to ensure that customers have a consistent experience across all channels. As an example, assume a customer reached out to the company via their live chat. If he feels that the chat agent is not able to resolve the issue and calls the customer care, he should be able to pick up where he left. The customer care agent should already be aware of the specifics of the issue.
4.Use technology as a differentiator: People, process, and technology are the three important pillars of customer experience. Technology can strengthen the other two pillars and become a true differentiator. While processes have to be created and employees have to be trained on them, without technology to enable that, the whole thing falls apart. Chatbots armed with AI and machine learning, a CRM that gives a 360-degree view of the customer are some ways technology can help you stand out.