ME telcos need to improve customer service

Telecoms operators need to improve methods of customer service to gain growth says Value Partners

Tags: Customer serviceValue Partners Middle East
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ME telcos need to improve customer service Telecom operators need to focus on areas like multi-channel customer care and customer-centric contact centres, says Value Partners.
By  Mark Sutton Published  August 18, 2010

Middle East telecom operators need to improve their investment in, and the sophistication of their customer care services to gain competitive advantage, according to management consultancy Value Partners.

The consultancy says that with fixed and mobile markets maturing, operators are looking to maximize the value of their existing customer base, and that while customer service plays an important part of this growth, telecos need to pick their customer-care channels carefully.

"Customer care - traditionally perceived as a ‘necessary cost,' - is rapidly becoming a key success factor," said Zoran Vasiljev, managing director, Value Partners Dubai. "On the one hand, customer satisfaction is a critical enabler for upselling, cross-selling and retention strategies, and customer service on their key sales channel. On the other hand, effective channel shifting strategies and continuous productivity improvements in call centre operations are essential building blocks of efficiency programs."

Value Partners reports that its has worked with companies that have increased their customer care budgets by up to 15% over a period of several years, without seeing a correspondent increase in customer satisfaction.

Vasiljev said that operators are turning away from Interactive Voice Response (IVRs) as a customer care channel, as it generates diminishing returns, and instead should focus on shifting to new channels for customer support, taking a customer-centric approach to redesigning call centre operations and looking for the most competitive supplier for highest quality/lowest cost customer care.

Key areas of concern are ‘Recaller' customers -  customers calling back shortly after having spoken to an agent, or having visited the website, which can account for up to 35% of calls, and improperly prepared pre-sales staff, who do not provide information to new customer about billing or services, resulting in more calls. Value Partners says that clearer scripts and corresponding agent incentives, and training that goes through post-sales needs can help alleviate these issues.

Operators also need to look carefully at how they address multi-channel customer care, particularly that they do not rely solely on online, static FAQs. Value Partners recommends looking at multiple channels and developing more advanced self-care options, such as using Human Digital Assistant technology, to give more interactive customer service.

Vasiljev highlighted three key areas for improving customer care: "First -build a truly multi-channel caring model, with all channels available to all customers and specialize channels by customer need, focusing self caring (IVR and Web) on simpler queries leaving agents to focus on more complex, mission-critical ones. Second - invest in real-time customer profiling, to truly personalize the customer experience on all channels. Third -seek ‘One Call Solution' when possible, but be obsessed in delivering ‘solution without recall' always by actively managing the customer experience and resulting expectations. Based on Value Partners' experience with major telecom operators both in mature and emerging markets, we provide a blueprint for successful deployment of these guidelines."

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