Lightico recently commissioned a survey of 1,000 Telco subscribers to investigate their interactions with their mobile operators. The survey covered issues of new device sales and service across touchpoints (retail, web and phone) to understand to what degree customers were satisfied by different sales and service practices.
The audience was comprised of a cross-section of customer ages (from 18 years old and up) and a spectrum of mobile carriers, including customers of the biggest mobile operators including ATT and Verizon.
The data reveals that while the industry sells ‘smart’ phones and digital services, many customer interactions are neither smart nor digital. Addressing these deficient customer experiences is a significant sales opportunity and a chance for improved service efficiencies.
Particularly, paperwork and dependency on retail store visits is hindering sales and inflating costs: customer upsells are lost due to frustrating paperwork and often times inconvenient in-store visits.
The survey lays out clearly that a few, focused digital and mobile interventions can capture these significant opportunities.
The Top Telco Frustrations
Paperwork and Retail Branch Visits
Customers expect a smart, digital experience across both sales and service, they encounter slow, ‘offline’ issues. Those issues tend to center on paper processes (printing, scanning, signing) and retail visits (ostensibly to resolve issues that they would have preferred to manage remotely).
While paperwork may be required for contracting, given the explosion of digital tools like digital signatures and documentation, customers are less forgiving for these inconveniences.
Customers have four main areas that require servicing. Those tend to revolve around billing (34%), upgrades and plan changes (31%), connectivity (31%) and device malfunctioning (26%). Given many of these issues are commonplace across retail categories and can be resolved remotely and digitally, customers are frustrated when telcos ask them to print, scan, send or visit branches to resolve issues.
In fact, the survey shows that for service-related interactions, more than half of consumers said they’d switch phone providers due to poor CX (53%). Specifically, they point to paperwork (20%) and having to go physically to the store (19%) as top CX frustrations for service requests.
Customers Want Service Over the Phone
Interestingly, while customers want digital and instant interactions, they expect immediate, human phone support to resolve issues. They want the ‘care’ component of service but get frustrated when agents are unable to fully manage their issues on the phone. It seems that customers want digitally augmented help for their telco issues.
The survey shows how 42% of customers want to speak with someone on the phone to resolve issues. This dwarfs every other channel. Digital-only service channels like email (17%) and through a website (12%) lack the immediacy and human nuances customers seek to be understood and to resolve issues. And, while human, only 12% of customers like going to a retail store to resolve issues. This points to the inconvenience of having to be be somewhere specific, instead of being serviced remotely.
As cell phone penetration reaches saturation, operators have focused on increasing ARPU. There is now substantive evidence that digital CX improvements can help unlock new streams of revenue.
As ecosystem partners like Apple help excite customer for the newest device, or operators show off their speedy services, customers are eager to upgrade their solutions. However, customers often encounter upgrade (sales) barriers: 31% of respondents have issues making upgrades and changes to their device plan with their phone provider.
Again, the two common sales obstacles customers encounter are paperwork and having to go to a store: signups get stuck in paperwork (16%) and having to physically go to the store (28%).
Net Poor Customer Experience – Your Customers are Ready to Hang up!
The key reasons why customers say they switch to a competitor are lower rates (63%), better quality network (58%), and a great online experience (47%). So, while telco services are too often categorized as a commodity, in reality, there is now ample proof that CX can be a distinguishing strategy that drives sales, curbs abandonment and instills customer loyalty.
In conjunction with competitive pricing and ensuring a quality network, there should be more initiatives to simplify and digitize customer-facing CX as customers are both price-sensitive and experience-sensitive.
Digitizing Customer Interactions Can Unlock Sales & Streamline Service
As the cell phone market reaches maximum saturation, the role of customer experience continues to grow as a profit lever. This new survey shows how simple digital tools can remove the pain of paperwork and retail branch visits that plague sales and service.
By leveraging intuitive digital tools like instant digital signatures, real-time bill co-reviewing, and image sharing, telco operators have the ability to delight customers, drive sales and ensure loyalty.