Macro trends in the telecom industry
Like many other industries, the telecom industry too was changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Customers began to rely even more on connectivity, as remote working became the norm and students began learning from home. Their reliance on technology increased multi-fold.
Customers are driving change in the telecommunications industry by demanding a higher standard of service, and a better user experience. To keep their customers satisfied telecom companies will need to focus on bettering customer experience. Failure to provide a quality customer experience will lead to customers switching over to an alternative provider if their customer journey is unsatisfactory. The telecom industry is becoming highly competitive with many providers entering the market so to ensure customers remain loyal and satisfied, telecom companies will need to identify their customer’s pain points and work on improving them to retain customers.
Digital adaptation increasing y-o-y
The pandemic accelerated the adaptation of technology. To keep businesses open, organisations used technology to facilitate remote working and touchless services. Emerging technology such as 5G, IoT, ominchannel design, are fast evolving and will soon become the norm as new requirements demand faster connectivity in the future. In our hyper-connected world, the reliance on the telecom industry has greatly increased and digital has become the new norm.
Telecom industry is unable to retain customers
Despite digital and telecom becoming an increasing necessity, the telecom industry is struggling to retain customers. Due to many different providers taking up space in the market, customers have a lot of choice. So poor service or lack of attention to customers needs will result in a higher number of churns. Thus telecom operators will need to invest more to retain and maintain customer loyalty.
3 business areas that impact Customer Experience
With the growth of digital and non-digital touchpoints in the customers journey, there are now a lot more touchpoints by which businesses can improve their customer experience. There are three prime business areas that impact customer experience, they are:
- Fulfillment or the time it takes to take an order and deliver the product or services on time and accurately. If businesses can lessen the time it takes to activate a service, that will directly lead to higher customer satisfaction and lesser chances of them switching to an alternate provider. To reduce the time it takes to activate a service and execute the activation accurately, businesses should streamline the process of prioritising their customers needs. This can be done by analysing data, customer service requests, other parameters, billing etc. and creating a streamlined process.
- Service Assurance, simply means managing customers exceptions and reducing the cost of support post delivery. Customers have more expectations now and dislike having to keep calling their network for support. Without a proper understanding of customer’s needs across channels, telecom companies will be unable to reduce dependency on after delivery support.
- Billing and Revenue is how conveniently can customers make payments without being bombarded by multiple invoices, payment reminders and additional transactions. This requires proper backend support and simplified billing processes.
Case Study: Airtel
Bharati Airtel is a global telecommunications company that has its headquarters in New Delhi India and extends its services to 23 countries in Africa and South Asia. Airtel is the 5th largest telecom operator with 243, 336 million customers as of 2012. Its primary competitors in India are Reliance Communications and Idea Cellular. Despite claiming to have the fastest network and great customer support, many customers do not prefer to buy an Airtel connection. The main reason for this is that even though Airtel’s vision is to “be globally admired for telecom services that delight customers”, they are not a customer-centric telecom company. Poor after-sales service and lack of a consumer-centric strategy have severely impacted the customer experience of its users.
Airtel needs to spend some time collecting customer feedback, understand their users needs and develop new products that fill the gaps in the market. They also need to train the staff at their service centres to learn how to provide good service that satisfy customers and improve their digital platforms like their website and app with a chatbot that can solve their customers queries.
Upgrading their technology will help raise the bar of their customer experience and deliver solutions that truly solve their customers problems.
Now that we have understood how crucial customer experience is to improve customer retention let us look at some strategies to improve customer experience.
Strategies to improve Customer Experience
1. Create a seamless experience journey for customers
Customers that have a poor experience are more likely to switch to an alternative provider that understands their needs. Most customers feel that telecom companies take up too much of their time and that they often face long waiting times for their issues to get resolved. Telecom companies should focus on creating a smooth, pain free experience for their customers. They can do this by setting up an omnichannel customer experience approach, that allows customers to interact with the company through their preferred channel and not have to unnecessarily repeat information over and over again.
2. Adapting to new innovations in technology and creating a strategy to improve customer experience
Telecom companies need to innovate and stay on top of creating change. They need to constantly upgrade to better technology that can help them monitor real time updates and understand the needs of their customers. Companies need to strive to be thought leaders and embrace innovation. They can also experiment with new and interesting ways to create better customer experience like loyalty programs.
3. Listening and responding to customers feedback
Telecom companies should create a space for customers to leave their feedback and also act on that feedback. Understanding why they are unhappy with your service can help tackle some issues in the company’s customer experience.
4. Be proactive – actively follow up with customers to ensure they are satisfied
Rather than waiting until customers cancel their service, to persuade them to renew, companies should set up a system to analyse data and understand danger signs of disgruntled customers even before they consider dropping out. Being proactive can greatly improve customer retention.
5. Adopt a human touch approach
Innovating and embracing technology does not mean moving towards a completely automated approach. Lack of personal touch is the reason why customers have a hard time building trust. Dedicated customer service executives that can quickly and efficiently solve problems for their users are a good way to provide individualised support.
As more people move towards telecom and digital connectivity to be able to stay connected, it is critical for telecom companies to adapt a customer first approach and build trust and loyalty through great customer experience to increase retention. As we’ve seen building a great product is only the beginning for an organisation, to keep customers faithful they need to work harder at retention and they can do this by creating a great customer experience strategy.