In the ever-changing world of technology, it can be easy to be left behind by the fast-moving pace of innovation. This is particularly true in the world of telecoms, where customers often complain of feeling bewildered by the latest technological advances, unable to set up their new mobile phone because they don’t understand how it works.
If customers don’t understand the technology they have in their hands, they won’t make the most of it. Consequently, this lack of understanding not only reduces usage and therefore spend, but it also leads to a higher level of dissatisfaction. This in turn leads to more returns and greater churn. While operators are often blamed for selling a customer the wrong thing, customers also need to understand that the latest (and most highly technical) device isn’t always the right one for them. It’s a vicious circle: if customers can’t use their device, they won’t be happy and they will leave.
It is in operators’ best interests to educate customers when they are looking to buy a new device, so they receive more benefit and value from that investment. To do this, they need to take more time, starting with pre-purchase guidance, to understand a customer’s needs and help them buy the right device.
Customers should not just have a relationship with Apple or Samsung, they need to build a relationship with the operator as well, usually longer lasting. Being able to speak the same language as your customer is becoming more important than ever before; now is the time for operators to reconnect with the customer and regain their trust.
The problem is that many operators have struggled with this aspect of the business, or have neglected it for too long. Sales have been the focus instead of set-up and serve. Historically, store staff has little or no technical knowledge, or are unable to relate to customers in terms they can understand, fixating only on selling the highest value contract instead. The teams to deliver this customer experience are in place in some operators, Vodafone has its 'Tech Team' and O2 has its 'Gurus', but more needs to be done.
First impressions matter – and the first 15 minutes or first hour after purchase is a critical time to build those first impressions. Having a knowledgeable assistant help you set-up the device (e.g. transferring your address book, setting up email) and showing you the basics of how to use the device has been proven to make a significant difference to the customer (and Net Promoter Score). Spending more time to educate the customer on how to get even more value delivers even more incremental benefit.
However, a positive customer experience isn’t limited to just the store, it’s multichannel. Customers expect to receive the same experience online as they would in-store, or on the telephone. There should be a consistent customer experience with standardised processes, training and checklists, regardless of which channel the customer is purchasing via. Ideally, the same system should be used for set up, regardless of channel.
Best in class is where the assisted channel (e.g. in-store) is using the same screen as the customer sees when they go online at home. This educates the customer, builds confidence in the solution and increases channel shifting self-service.
It’s this multi-platform service that makes customers really feel like they are being taken care of. If they can walk out of a store with their device working, and check-in online and receive an adequate answer to any queries – they are receiving a single customer experience, across multiple channels.
The customer experience done well involves three clear stages of setup: firstly – 'it works', sales teams must ensure that the customer’s phone works, that it is charged and operational
Secondly – 'it’s personalised', there is a need to transfer all relevant data from the previous phone to the new handset.
And finally, and most importantly- 'it’s used with confidence', sales teams must then educate customers in how to use or get the most value out of their smartphone
This final point is where sales teams can earn their crust, and truly win back customer trust. Too often customers are given inadequate setup and are sent off without a proper understanding of what they have bought. The process of education and the transfer of knowledge will establish this trust.
However, to make this happen, commission rates and incentivisation programmes for sales staff need to be restructured so that they more closely reflect the increased importance of providing customers with the knowledge, reassurance and understanding that they need. Without this, sales teams lack a strong incentive to provide a great customer experience.
Traditionally, most operators work with channel silos, they have a Head of Digital, Head of Retail, and a Head of Contact Centre – all the people needed are in place, but they’re just not working together. Rarely is there someone taking a customer view, rather than a channel view, and ever rarer is there someone taking a view of the customer’s joining journey.
A single consistent customer experience is needed and should be supported by knowledge base and ability, and for that to be possible, there needs to be collaboration. For customers, operators, and salespeople alike, there’s no doubt that knowledge is power! Operators must harness that power by enabling their personnel to share it.
Sourced from Simon Williams, Head of Telco Media, NTT DATA