We live in a world of increasingly complex telecom and VoIP services, with subscribers having access to an abundance of cutting-edge products. The fierce competition in the field of communications demands an excellent customer experience in order to attract and retain customers, and to reduce churn. With so many choices on offer, the power has shifted to customers – if faced with a problem, they have come to expect an immediate resolution.
Unfortunately, the surveys of customer experience in the telecommunication world reveal that, in general, consumers have a very low opinion of the telecoms industry and are dissatisfied with the support that they receive from their providers. It seems that the reason for this deficiency may be found in the mindset of telecom operators, who devote most of their time and effort to building and managing their VoIP networks, rather than indulging their customers. Satisfactory customer experience in the VoIP telecommunications industry is vital, and is directly related to a company’s desired growth in revenue.
How should management improve their customer service for VoIP subscribers, thereby boosting customer satisfaction and retention? This article lists some strategies and guidelines that communication service providers (CSPs) could put into practice to remedy this problem.
Give digestible information in excess
In this age of excess information, the customer expects to find all the relevant answers to any encountered problem in one place, and preferably in as little time as possible. Telecom companies operate an especially high-tech business, and manage complex information that is hard for a regular person to digest and understand. Being able to deliver advanced and sophisticated material in a clear, simple and detailed manner is an accomplishment in itself, and is an important factor in securing customer loyalty. Instructional videos, self-explanatory presentations, troubleshooting documentation, and a knowledgebase covering the most prominent and easy-to-follow VoIP topics should be made conveniently accessible on a company’s website.
“All for one” assumption
CSPs have departments such as administration, marketing, carrier relations, verification, billing, and HR, which rarely or never have any direct contact with the company’s customers. It may be useful to engage all of these departments with the clients as often as possible. Getting to know the customer’s concerns and their pain points would shed more light on internal issues within a company, and promote solutions for an overall enhanced management program. Moreover, the customer’s positive feedback would strengthen the motivation of all staff to strive towards performance excellence.
“Tailor-fitted” service for every customer
Each and every customer has different requirements, and their specific needs should be addressed and serviced accordingly. It is of vital importance for telecom companies to interact constantly with their clients and to fully understand their usage patterns in order to enable any efficient made-to-measure solutions. According to Lina Zaboras, the CEO of DIDWW, “total customer satisfaction has always been our ultimate goal” and the main concerns of the company are about “what is important to the customer, and how to earn their trust in delivering essential services to them.” It is highly advisable to deeply understand the needs of each VoIP customer and to provide services that are most beneficial to those customers. It is clear that such a strategy will win customer gratification, and consequently loyalty towards the brand.
A segmentation-based approach
With the development of new and complex telecommunication offerings, the telecom operators feel the pressure to maximize organizational efficiency, yet simultaneously control the cost of running the service operation. How do companies deal with the delicate balancing act of indulging customers, and at the same time managing expenses? Adopting a segmentation-based approach to service could be the answer. To put it in simple terms, the value of all customers is not uniform, thus their support strategies do not have to be the same. The service quality could be optimized by providing higher value customers with enhanced and high quality services through direct channels, while servicing lower-value customers through social media and the Web. Such differentiation leads to cost optimization, combined with satisfactory customer service.
Social media for closer interactions
A useful support strategy is to serve existing customers and reach out for new potential clients online. Social channels are powerful and constantly evolving conduits for implementing effective customer interaction programs. Interacting with the customers at the online places that they frequent will have a positive impact on customer service, and provide unique opportunities for connecting with those clients. Over the last few years, the techniques of providing customer service via social media have evolved significantly, and companies have been refining their ways of handling customer issues using various appropriate online channels. CSPs are no strangers to this approach, and are increasingly moving incoming queries for resolution to social sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or YouTube. In addition to using a social media platform, the adoption of a web-based customer service dashboard is an efficient problem solving tool, providing quick and more personalised interactions.
Refer to call centers and AI
For a small-scale enterprise, managing customer service could be made easier by using call centers that offer outsourced phone management solutions. Contact center services such as customer support (inbound and outbound calling), billing and collections, application processing, data entry services and technical support have extensive options and can be matched to suit the needs and budgets of almost any business. Moreover, with the increasing availability of technological advancements, the call centers have started integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into their operations. AI software is able to leverage data to rapidly forecast customer behaviour and trends, and voice analytics combined with predictive analysis methods provide an ingenious way to identify potential leads that may eventually become major customers.
Favourable skills of the customer service representative
Amongst all of the digital communication strategies employed within VoIP services, the need for live communications still remains an essential component, as the customer often needs to speak with a real person. The key to ensuring customer loyalty and satisfaction often lies in the very heart of a telecom operator, namely with their personnel in the customer service department. The skills required by these important staff members are many, and the outcome is also dependant on the personality of the customer service representative.
Some pointers for the members of this department are:
- Customer-friendly approach
A professional conversation combined with a positive and friendly attitude helps to generate a customer’s enthusiasm. As a rule, a happy customer is an engaged customer, who spends time on company’s website, buys in abundance and acts as a positive reference.
- Good listening skills
Another key skill of a talented sales assistant is the ability to listen intently and, as a result, ask appropriate and constructive questions. Active listening will also help to provide real and genuine answers to the clients.
- Keeping promises
It is a necessary trait for a customer service representative to keep promises and deliver, and to be honest with a customer in setting realistic expectations. Success often lies in under-promising and over-delivering.