Digital transformation has been high on the agenda for telco providers since 2016, when many began to experiment with ways to boost operational efficiency and speed of service.
It is only relatively recently, however, that telco providers have started to focus on improving the telco customer journey for the actual customer.
Despite the importance of people’s relationships with their smartphones (the average user spends almost three hours per day on their phones), most people’s relationship with their actual telco provider is much less stable.
What Am I to You?
This is partly due to customer perception of the sector, as despite telco providers essentially facilitating their customers to watch movies, listen to music, browse the internet, and, of course, communicate with friends and family, according to new research, the majority of customers still regard their providers as merely a utility, and rank the industry last when it comes to delivering services that meet their needs.
Interestingly, though, despite customers’ low opinions of their telcos (just 27% of customers said they would recommend their telco providers to others), over three quarters of respondents said they would not switch, even if they had the opportunity.
This seems to suggest that customers’ low expectations are only matched by their lacklustre commitment. Indeed, 37.4% of respondents said that interactions were neither good nor bad, with 64% stating they found little to no difference between companies.
With Difference, Comes Opportunities
With few differences in services offered, most telco providers are currently competing in a race to the bottom, ensuring everything is offered as cheaply as possible. A consequence of this is that very little time, effort or money is prioritised and/ or allocated to improving the customer experience.
However, whenever an industry’s major players are so similar that they are largely indistinguishable, there is a huge opportunity for one of those players to become a game-changer.
As such, as of right now, telco providers should be making every play to stand out from the crowd and differentiate themselves through the customer experience they offer, and the ways in which they provide their services, regardless of how similar they may be.
In promoting fully digital self-service telco customer journeys, many telco providers are neglecting their customers and undervaluing the human component in remote interactions.
While simple telco queries can often be answered online by chat bots, and certain preliminary stages in a telco purchase/enquiry journey can be completed through online self-service channels, when customers want to escalate the interaction and speak to an advisor, they often find the experience disjointed and inadequate.
This is because explaining and selling products over the phone, whether for a new device, a new broadband package or a new tariff, is challenging for the provider and not a particularly enjoyable experience for the customer.
In fact, although customer journeys invariably begin online, abandonment rates for online shopping are around 73%. Abandonment can be down to all kinds of reasons, such as difficult site navigation, which accounts for 6% of dropouts. Customers tend to become frustrated with overly complicated online customer journeys as they expect to be able to complete simple transactions quickly.
With complex key purchase or service journeys, however, customers tend to drop out of online channels and go offline, either to visit a branch or speak to somebody on the phone to get further information or assistance. In fact, 77% of teleco customers expressed a preference for more human interactions online.
Do You See What I See?
With traditional telephony interactions, customers are unable to see the product, or the package or the specific information that agents are actually talking about, making it all the more difficult for them to visualise and comprehend. This, in turn, makes it all the more difficult for the agent to sell, explain or retain that customer.
For example, when new customers begin a new mobile phone or broadband contract, they are often caught unaware by unexpected costs over and above the monthly fee. Whether this is because that first month charge is front-loaded, or, because they are charged pro rata, and they joined midway through the month, the outcome is the same: customers will want to speak to a human to resolve a problem.
By allowing the agent to show information at the purchase stage not only provides clarity, but also enables the telco provider to tantalise and excite the customer with images and information in an easily digestible manner, which provides a superior customer experience and allows the telco provider to distinguish themselves.
Show, Don’t Tell
We are all visual creatures and much more likely to remember something or retain certain information when we see something written down or presented as an eye-catching infographic. Instead of listening to a lengthy compliance script, telco providers should utilise the tools at their disposal to ‘live-share’ this information on the customer’s screen. By doing this, customers do not need to listen to a long list of terms and conditions being read and can instead just ‘click to accept’. In allowing the customer to participate in an interaction, they are less likely to ‘switch off’ and more likely to remain engaged and interested and therefore more likely to buy that product, upgrade their package or feel satisfied and valued by their interaction.
Telco providers should be making their complicated key purchase or service journeys as simple and streamlined as possible. This reduces the risk of customers dropping out of purchases that they have not properly understood.
In the future, better, more standardised telco customer experiences will not only be driven by increasing customer expectations, but also by new industry regulation.
For example, Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, has a raft of new regulation that has either been recently implemented or will be in the upcoming months. New stipulations, such as requiring telco companies to provide: ‘clear, honest information for broadband shoppers’, will allow customers to learn exactly what speeds they will get before they commit to a contract. Telco providers will also soon have to inform their customers when their contracts are coming to an end and what their best available deals are. There will also have to be more transparency in how mobile operators charge for handsets when bundled with different data packages.
Telco companies should see these regulatory requirements as valuable opportunities to create CX tech that offers more transparent, visual, engaging and effortless experiences.
The message is clear: transform your telco customer journeys by implementing CX tech and adding transparency to your operations, the sooner the better, not only for the sake of your customers by offering them the option to complete their journeys in their channel of choice, but to future-proof your operations.
Click here to discover how Vizolution has helped telco provider, O2, improve their telco customer journey.