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How Communications Service Providers Can Invest in Customer Experience

telecomCommunications service providers (CSPs), despite being at the forefront of the telecommunications industry, have been slow to invest in customer experience. In part, this has been because CSPs have primarily focused on the growth and evolution of their network infrastructure for coverage, capacity, and resilience. This focus means that CSPs often miss opportunities to provide better service and improve their Net Promotor Scores by providing better service. Here are four key areas that CSPs should consider for investment in improved customer experience:

Lowering the barriers to service

To improve customer satisfaction, CSPs need to reduce the overall net effort for customers in service interactions. In many instances, CSPs simply lack the engagement channels and tools required to empower customers to easily engage.

Providing true omnichannel support is only part of the solution. Another significant challenge for CSPs is that they often don’t utilize all the information of past customer experience to improve interactions with customers. Take a moment to think about how many times you, as a consumer, have contacted a CSP and started communicating with them about an issue via a particular channel, and have had to reexplain the issue multiple times as you were escalated to other channels and dealt with multiple agents.

The ideal customer scenario would be for the CSP to have already anticipated the customer’s issue. Using artificial intelligence, the care platform could make an accurate prediction about why a customer may be contacting the CSP for service. For example, it could be that there has been a spike in the customer’s monthly spend, or a network outage in their area.

This information could be surfaced to the agent to assist them with the inbound customer query, irrespective of how many channels or agent contacts the customer may need to navigate. The context and details of the query should be memorialized and passed across channels and agents seamlessly. The customer should not have to explain the issue more than once. This context-aware approach would see customer satisfaction increase and time to resolution improve, thereby driving efficiency and effectiveness in the contact center.

Deflecting to digital self-service

More customers than ever would rather engage with their CSP using digital self-service capabilities instead of being forced to pursue assisted care for support. CSPs can benefit from providing unassisted care features through increased rates of deflection to digital self-service. To do so, companies would need to ensure that self-service is underpinned by comprehensive knowledge management and reinforced with digital assistants that provide a rich, conversational experience. Integration to key applications will allow customers to easily self serve to address billing, order, buying, and subscriber care queries through the unassisted channels, while also providing contextual transitioning to the assisted channels when needed.

As part of a true omnichannel care capability, CSPs must provide rich and robust unassisted care for customers in addition to the assisted contact center functions. Digital self-service helps reduce cost by deflection to lower cost channels while providing choice for the customer as to how, when, and where they interact with the CSP. This approach also allows agents to focus on the more complex queries that typically require direct agent interaction.

Reinventing the agent experience

The agent experience should not be overlooked when working towards improving the customer experience. A poor agent experience leads to frustration and a lack of motivation, resulting in high employee attrition. This has a significant impact on cost, not least due to the hiring and training spend, as well as the direct impact on the CSP’s ability to support customers.

Often, agents are faced with a number of screens, multiple disjointed applications and support systems, and no common user interface or integration across them. This leaves agents hunting through masses of screen real estate for the information that they need.

To solve this problem, CSPs could use innovation and intelligence to provide a single agent screen that delivers a tailored 360-view of the customer. While most agent environments in use today take the approach of cramming as much information as possible onto the agents’ screens, CSPs that leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning can directly surface relevant, context-based information to the agent in a clear and informative manner based on the customer’s query. Providing an intelligent, enhanced agent experience will increase adoption, usability, and efficiency within the contact center, allowing agents to better serve customers.

Turning care into commerce

Another key challenge that CSPs face is revenue growth. I would argue that customer care remains a grossly underutilized sales channel within most of these organizations. This is because sales and service remain entirely disconnected experiences for the customer and within the business. Agents simply don’t have the right information or system support to enable the upsell of products as part of a blended care and buying experience. By bringing these together, CSPs can drive sales from service by turning care into commerce.

Blending sales and service shouldn’t be considered a one-way street, only benefiting the CSP. Customers can also take advantage of this, as the care experience can expose a previously unidentified need or a more appropriate product offering, allowing the CSP to add further value for the customer.

Now more than ever, CSPs need to deliver value to their customers. CSPs need to think about how their customers might want to interact with them, and how best to implement an intelligence-led digital customer experience. These measures can lead to cost savings and revenue growth.