August 16, 2018
When we launched Support Robotics we made it our mission to be a game-changing company that helped telcos deliver better customer support in new ways. Good old tried and tested customer support tactics just didn’t seem to be working in telco anymore and the industry’s experience managers were frustrated. Our devices were getting smarter, but to the end user, customer service looked pretty much the same as it did 10 years ago.
We decided it was time to reboot customer service in telco.
When your mission is to deliver customer service in new ways the first thing you do is ask lots of questions. We’re lucky enough to be working with some of the telco industry’s most ambitious people so when they talk, we listen. It’s a dialogue that’s helping us deliver the roadmap towards the truly unified customer care process that telco experience managers are crying out for.
When you ask telco experience managers about the kind of customer service they wish they could deliver to customers, they paint a utopia. Devices are supported by self-service apps that allow users to complete a wide range of customer care processes quickly and easily on their own. There’s little need for customers to use call centres, but if they have to, the experience is joined-up, without all the repetition, and issues are resolved in a single call. With support processes unified, the need for customers to take problems in-store is minimised, but when they do, intuitive wire-free diagnostics impress customers and enhance the in-store experience rather than frustrate customers and distract sales staff from the primary business of selling.
In the real world things are different. Experience managers are often working with rigid legacy systems that have evolved slowly and at great cost. Creaking, outdated and siloed, they’re delivering increasingly frustrating experiences (as Dimelo’s head of marketing Julian Rio vividly explained at Telecoms World Asia this year).
The challenge is to bring these siloed systems and their functionality, together, without having to start all over again. Telcos want to refresh the support they offer today, without being beholden to the timescales associated with wholesale replacement of mission-critical BSS. They need a CX-oriented customer service platform, which can co-exist and future proof without wasting investments already made.
When we ask our industry colleagues how we can best support them on this journey their starting point is always the end customer. Interestingly, many experts in the MNO space tell us they look to the MVNOs for inspiration.
Having no physical network and no “real-world footprint” essentially makes MVNOs pure play retailers. Their focus is on sales and identifying new efficiencies across the customer journey. They understand that keeping existing customers is easier than winning new ones and that makes realising an ROI on excellent customer support a priority.
Which?, the UK consumer rights organisation, polled nearly 8000 consumers to discover that MVNOs consistently outstripped MNOs in every aspect of customer service. Giffgaff, Asda Mobile and Tesco Mobile top Which’s customer satisfaction table while the physical networks they use to deliver their services linger in the bottom half of the satisfaction table. In the US this theme continues with popular MVNOs such as Consumer Cellular, Project Fi, and Ting taking the top spots in Consumer Reports’ 2017 Cell-Phone Service Survey (these were the only companies to receive the highest rating for customer support).
“A key component of this success in the MVNO sector is self-serve and enabling customers to solve their own problems. This not only benefits the MNO from a cost-out angle (reduced bad traffic in stores); but also drives improved customer satisfaction, particularly in younger demographics who prefer self-serve and are the people most likely to switch from traditional MNO’s to lower-cost MVNO’s.”
The jewel in the crown of the MVNO’s service support offer is self-service. MVNOs have won consumer hearts and minds by leveraging growing demand for support options that allow users to self-diagnose and resolve issues on demand.
By spearheading the concept of self-service, MVNOs have improved the customer experience while reducing the need for expensive in-store or call centre based support. As a result, operations like Tesco Mobile or Asda Mobile in the UK are delivering high value experiences to customers with minimal on-site support, and MVNOs like Giffgaff top the consumer satisfaction table in spite having no presence on the High Street at all.
This is the trajectory that we believe every telco wants to be on. Our mission is to make sure they get there.
Telco operators don’t have outlets on the High Street so they can fix customers’ phones. They’re there to sell. That’s why they are predominantly staffed with sales people rather than technical experts. When in-store staffing costs are high, operators want to do all they can to ensure that the sales people on the ground are equipped with everything they need to keep selling. The last thing they want is dedicated head-count for ‘technical support’ and frustrated customers waiting in the store to see them.
This is where the Support Robotics platform is key. Our simple, wireless diagnostic tools equip sales people with everything they need to impress. Sales staff follow intuitive wizards to diagnose and resolve customer issues at speed – saving 20 minutes or more on some face-to-face processes.
We’ve found this changes the dynamic of resolving technical problems for customers in-store. Confident in the knowledge that they’re supported with the intuitive tools they need (and the fact that issues are likely to be resolved quickly) sales staff embrace the opportunity to help customers fix problems. And as customers see our wireless support systems resolve issues before their eyes, they become more inclined towards the idea of self-service too: If the salesperson managed to resolve the issue quickly by installing and then using our customer care app, device owners are likely to keep the app installed and opt to use it the next time a problem arises.
Priority one for MNOs today is to simplify and unify the entire customer care ecosystem. Artificial Intelligence is the driver for this, and AI’s capabilities are about to enable a truly impressive standard of automated diagnosis and resolution.
Already, we’re building self-service support apps using chatbots to offer a less intimidating natural-language engagement for end-users. As these systems evolve and more integration becomes available, AI will increasingly help customers to resolve the problems they have, seamlessly handing-over to human agents or apps as required.
As the journey continues, our platform is empowering staff in-store and in call centers, with the resources they need to address customer issues more efficiently every day.
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