Consumers today want their problems addressed and rectified immediately. They expect you to handle issues in real time, as they arise. If you cannot, they have no problem taking their business elsewhere. In the Telecommunications industry, first-contact resolution has never been a strength. Yet there are steps we can take to improve the resolution process, ultimately increasing customer satisfaction scores.
As part of the Telco Customer Lifecycle series, I discussed the challenges and goals of the first four phases of the customer journey: Awareness, Conversion, On-boarding and Cross Sell. In this piece, I explore Resolution, the fifth phase in the lifecycle. More specifically, how Telco can leverage employees, insight and even customers themselves to improve this critical stage of the customer journey. Despite offering a good product at a competitive price, Telco customers will encounter problems— how they are addressed and resolved is what really matters.
First-Contact Resolution in Telco—Key Challenges
Unfortunately, we may have a long way to go to satisfy the needs of our customers. In fact, according to a 2015 survey by Proceri, the Telco industry ranks only slighter better than government when it comes to customer dissatisfaction. Why? The majority of contract customers only reach out to an operator if they have a problem. While most of us appreciate the fact that things go wrong, we do expect the problem to be fixed as soon as possible to ensure any break in service is minimised. Problems can often be solved with the help of others, but delays in diagnosing the issue cause anxiety and frustration for the customer. Here are some of the main challenges Telco faces with resolution.
Customers are bounced between different people or departments in attempts to resolve problems. Navigating different operating hours of various departments is confusing enough. Now add trying to decipher which department handles support issues versus those that sell products. Tedious.
Support resources are outdated or inaccurate. Often, customers will make the effort to resolve simple problems on their own, with help from support resources of course. Unfortunately, they often find online FAQ’s are outdated or wrong. Worse, many are sent into a never-ending loop when trying to solve basic issues. Finally, no online community exists for customers to share issues with peers or discuss how problems were solved.
Post resolution follow doesn’t exist. Effective resolution involves not only resolving the problem, but also, following up afterwards to ensure the issue has been closed and the customer is satisfied. Without this important procedure in place, many issues continue or reoccur.
Working Toward Improved Customer Experience Through Resolution—Goals
Issues will certainly arise, but ensuring problems that happen across the lifecycle of the contract are as pleasurable as possible improves customer experience. Nevertheless, the challenges listed above lead to three major opportunities that most Telco are losing out on:
The chance to strengthen relationships during and post issue. While interaction between customers and representatives is typically limited during the lifecycle of the contract, problem resolution provides a unique opportunity to strengthen ongoing relationships. Invest in training to ensure contact centers have information to address customer needs as they arise and make sure operators know how to place conversations into the context of the entire relationship to separate recurring complaints from first time problems. Skilled representatives give customers the answers they need, improving customer satisfaction levels improve across any issue they may have with your operator.
Take advantage of upsell opportunities. Use the resolution phase as an opportunity to encourage customers to use additional features or services after interacting with you. Upsell services to customers based on usage/ behavioral information gathered during resolution and raise awareness about features or services they may not be taking full advantage of.
Encourage positive feedback. Too often we hear negative comments about Telco operators who fail to resolve issues, and the frustration people encounter when dealing with problems. How about those customers who enjoy a seamless experience, or were delighted with how they were treated across the resolution phase? Encourage positive feedback and make channels available for customers to share positive experiences. Communicating how specific issues were resolved may even minimize call volumes and footfall into retail.
Gather digital insight, and act on it. Knowing why your customers are dissatisfied is half the battle. Often times, unsatisfied customers will not reach out to call centers but instead, voice opinions on digital channels such as mobile and social media. Gather digital insight to alleviate some of the frustrations surrounding resolution and better understand customer pain points. Data and analytics can inform decision-making. Use it to guide action that can improve customer experience overall.
Best practices for improving resolution in the Telco industry vary. However, by understanding the challenges the industry faces and the goals it strives to reach, more businesses can focus less on dissatisfaction and more on measuring successful interactions and improved customer experiences.
Next week I discuss the sixth installment in the Telco Customer Lifecycle series, Advocacy. Having strong, reliable advocates of the service you provide is more powerful than the millions of pounds spent chasing replacements for those you lose. Delight your customers from the beginning with superior service and when the need for resolution occurs, the experience will be nothing short of pleasurable.