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Telecom Carriers Face the Age of Consumer Choice

Mobile users freely admit that they are totally reliant on their smartphones, according to research conducted by CMO Council. Most of them also contend that they will continue to use their devices at the same or increasing levels into the future. But all isn’t rosy for mobile carriers. Consumers are concerned about hidden fees, as well as the high cost to text and access the internet. Even more concerning for carriers is that their customers are worried that their vendor will be unable to keep up with demand and service.

The Red Flag: Consumers Say Carriers Don’t Care

When the CMO Council asked why consumers chose to change providers, most of those who did choose to switch did so for improved cost and value reasons. Surprisingly, negative experiences were only responsible for 13 percent of those who defected.

Why? There seems to be an overall perception that telecoms just don’t care—that no matter what the consumer might do in response to a negative experience, it wouldn’t provoke a favorable outcome from their carrier. In fact, only 11 percent of the 1,660 respondents in the study said their carrier was attentive and customer-centric enough to provide resolution for a negative experience.

Loyalty Has an Expiration Date

Because consumers are so reliant upon the contribution mobile services make to their lifestyles, they’d prefer to be loyal customers. They want to be valued for their business and treated equitably. Because telecoms are not displaying that they care about—nor are they rewarding—their customers, loyalty is tenuous, at best.

The study found that 18 percent of respondents actually switched carriers last year and an additional 11 percent had done the research to switch, but hadn’t made the choice to do so at the time of the study.
“Consumers want to be loyal; they want to trust and rely on their carriers. But most importantly, they want to feel that the prices they pay are equitable to the services they are dependent upon and that the companies they are doing business with acknowledge and value their business.”
~ CMO Council

Making the Transition from Reactive to Proactive

The culture of telecoms must shift from viewing the customer experience as a utility function to viewing it as a proactive opportunity to grow and sustain business. The basic approach to improve service in response to negative feedback keeps carriers in reactive mode and makes it more difficult as customers are already frustrated and dissatisfied by the time corrective action occurs.

To turn the tables, mobile carriers need to strive for relevance that will enhance engagement and improve loyalty as a course of doing business, not as an afterthought. To do so, communication service providers (CSPs) would be wise to consider the benefits of using insights available from the contact center.

As front-line issue responders, customer service representatives (CSRs) have the ability to provide near-real-time insight to issues, challenges and customer concerns. The contact center also has the historical data to help discern patterns and trends with customers over time. These insights can help the company to improve the customer experience by taking a more holistic approach based more closely on the voice of the customer.

The voice of the customer should be viewed as the business intelligence that can transform the customer experience to prove that carriers not only care about customers but acknowledge their value. Just as important to the business, this intelligence can also be used to identify points in the customer relationship where up sell and cross sell will be most relevant and acted upon.

The Future of Telecom Customer Experience

According to Dr. Patrick Dixon, who’s been ranked as one of the 20 most influential business thinkers alive today, the future of customer experience for telecoms is emotion. The cost to provide bandwidth is falling to a level that’s will render the cost of providing it inconsequential and voice calls are a fraction of the services utilized by customers. Reinventing services that are useful, innovative and that create an emotional bond will be the wave of the future that drives the sustainability of telecoms—data and video services will play a big role.

In preparation for moving into this future over the next decade, utilizing the business intelligence gathered by your contact center can help to develop the customer experience more strategically than gut instinct. As CSPs work to position themselves for their customers, services will become more dynamic and personalized. One example is the change made by Verizon to switch from ARPU to ARPA (average revenue per account) to reflect the multi-device nature of its customers’ lives.

As new trends, such as the Verizon example, are identified, the business intelligence in your contact center can help to detect the patterns that point to these shifting needs, as well as collect new data during issue resolution that may be necessary to validate assumptions and create new service offerings.

Contact center intelligence can help to connect the dots for customer experience across the enterprise, as well as to inform customer strategy and to improve relevance that can transform the view that your customers have of your organization—and their choice to use the services you offer.