Keeping customers in the loop

Self service customer support may be on the rise but if corporates neglect to communicate problems to customers it may leave them fuming.

It’s everywhere. You can’t help but notice the vast majority of folks who whip out their smartphone to check their email, send text messages, look for restaurants on the internet, or, heaven forbid, actually talk. This led me to think how smartphones have changed everything: The way we do business, the way we find the nearest petrol station, the way we manage our schedules, and much more. Which leads to the question whether this familiarity with smart devices and apps can actually be used to save money for service providers.

To find out, Amdocs recently conducted a consumer survey to explore changing smartphone consumer behavior and how that impacts their expectations about customer support. The results were fascinating. 75 per cent of the customers would use online self service rather than call the contact centre for help. Also a testament to the widespread use of apps, 67 per cent would use mobile self service on their smartphones rather than call contact centres. 

 

So, why aren’t they doing that already? Shouldn’t customers just use self service and avoid calling their service providers altogether? The answer is not so simple.  Even though customers would prefer to use self service, almost half of them choose not do so as they expect answers to be inaccurate or incomplete. So, they don’t bother to use it at all when it comes to customer support. 

But there are ways to make it work. An overwhelming 91 per cent of customers surveyed said they would use a single, online knowledge base if it were available and tailored to their needs. The bottom line is that customers will use self service more if they can get what they need from it.

And don’t think that only wireless service providers should pay attention to the survey results and recommendations for lowering support costs. Customers of cable, wireline, and broadband companies are using the same smartphones, and have the same expectations as they do for wireless service providers.

 

Customers today are more demanding.  With instant access to information, smart devices that have at least five ways to communicate, and rapidly growing social networks, the new smartphone customer has power, influence and choices that have never existed before.  And, as a result, how your company interacts with your customers must undergo a dramatic sea change.

The Amdocs consumer survey found that customers experience problems during their first year of purchase, and that they call service provider contact centres for resolution to their inquiry. Not only do customers call, but they also call multiple times, resulting in skyrocketing support costs for service providers.

So, what should service providers do to provide a good customer experience while lowering support costs? Well, customers suggested an alternative to shed at least a portion of these calls.

Most customers expect that if their service providers are aware of a problem, and know how to fix it or notify the customer about it, why don’t they do it already? A whopping 96 per cent of customers expect their service providers to proactively notify them about the about actions being taken, or even better, the solution to their impending problem. Why? So that they don’t have to spend time trying to work out the problem, or have to call the call centre! So this approach could help save on call centre costs as well.

How do customers want to be notified, you might ask? Well, email leads the pack, followed by text message and then social media channels. However, use caution as sending notification to all the customers may be perceived as a nuisance, you will have to selectively target which notification to send to which customer and when.

With a myriad of mobile plans on the market and with customers being more discerning, service providers need to provide not only an attractive plan but also good customer support.

Improving the customer experience is an area that service providers simply just cannot afford to overlook, at the expense of their business.  This can be a key differentiator to a happy customer or a disgruntled one that decides to switch providers.

Ananda Subbiah Regional VP of Amdocs Australia  and Pacific region. 

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