Lines of business look to customer service to increase adoption of products and ensure that customers have a good experience with them, increasing their lifetime value and willingness to buy more over time. You rely on your customer service executives to set the framework for delivering service and to hold contact center vendors to the requirements in the contract.
However, for communications service providers (CSPs), this standard of service isn’t, well, standard—at least not for your customers. Each customer will approach your products and services from their own context. Context is tricky, it involves “memories” from past experiences with similar products, new expectations set by brand marketing and the promises made by new features. Context is even influenced by online reviews and claims and statements made within the social platforms where they spend their time. Context plays a big role in setting the expectations your customers hold for your brand.
As an example, consider a customer who:
- Subscribes to cable service
- Orders a sports channel for the season
- Expects to play games on demand
- But discovers they can only be watched when broadcast
- Unless he upgrades his DVR to a newer version that allows more programs to be recorded simultaneously
- This requires an expensive service call to upgrade the type of cable that comes into his home
- The purchase of a new box
- A recurring increase to his monthly bill
- Yet he won’t need all of this once the season is over and his subscription to the sports channel concludes for the year
The reason this customer switched to your company is because he felt like every change request made of his last vendor caused his monthly bill to increase. The customer felt nickeled and dimed because he was never told that upgrading to the service he wanted required him to also upgrade other features. His “memory” is that his provider didn’t value him as a customer. What do you think his impression is now about your company?
What if the first open date for the service appointment is a week away? And let’s say that during this time, your customer will miss two important games because of his work schedule. This is now his third call to customer service; first call to order the channel, second call to find out how to record games, and the third is the callback he received telling him of the date of the service call and confirming his order and the new charges he’s agreed to—unknowingly reinforcing his expectation that the vendor only cares about his money, not his loyalty or happiness. This customer is now alert to offers from competing companies to find a vendor who “cares” about having his business.
When reviewing the example above, it’s easy to think that the customer should have known there would be additional fees. You may think that he’s being unreasonable. That he should have planned farther ahead knowing the season was starting. The majority of customers seem to take these requirements in stride…or so you think.
Factoring Context into Standard Services
Contact centers establish workflows and processes to deal with call types. For example, help with using a feature on a smart phone or gaining access to a channel in their cable TV lineup or increasing their internet speed to improve their experience with streaming HD movies and videos. The basic requirements the vendor must deliver on revolve around the average handle time for each call type, first contact resolution and their ability to handle the volume of calls received.
Standards are necessary for obvious reasons, but a strict adherence to meeting the metrics at the exclusion of the customer’s context can look good on paper, but not deliver the outcomes that you’re aspiring to achieve for the lifetime value of—and loyalty to—your product line.
The truth is that customer service vendors aspire to create greater value for clients, but are often prevented by the status quo of tightly-controlled service specifications and narrow focus. If allowed, your contact center vendor can analyze the data for specific call types and products to determine customer sentiment trends.
With the identification of sentiment, comes context. What if in analyzing the sentiment for all the callers who ordered the sports package showed that after each call where a customer was required to upgrade his system to get all the benefits, customer satisfaction scores were markedly lower? What if further analysis of these customers showed that they all use a number of products and services and have higher monthly spend rates than other types of customers?
Now you’re armed with the information you need to work with the contact center provider to make process improvements. Perhaps you can even structure the sports package in a new way to include the upgrades so the subscription becomes more seamless. Maybe this insight also informs marketing to begin promoting the sports package earlier to enable the service calls to be performed before the season starts.
By asking your contact center vendor to help you uncover opportunities for improving service around your product line, you’ll have more insight and predictability about meeting the revenue and longevity goals you’ve forecast.