It’s no secret that telecommunications companies have a difficult time pleasing their customers.
In fact, in a new study by InMoment, Customer Experience in the Telecom Industry, we found that no line of service (internet, mobile, etc.) ever fully bounces back from the customer satisfaction levels of the pre-one-year honeymoon phase. In other words, after year one, satisfaction goes downhill and never recovers.
So why aren’t telecoms meeting customers’ long-term expectations?
I recently sat down with my good friend Graham Tutton, the VP of Customer Insights at Comcast, to discuss what telecoms like Comcast are doing—or should be doing—to improve the customer experience (CX).
Make CX a strategic priority.
Graham acknowledged that Comcast is the 800-pound gorilla in the room of the legacy cable business. With a stock price that has tripled since 2010, it’s been a big winner on Wall Street. Yet, while Comcast has been winning in many ways, the leadership team recognized the importance of improving its brand image around the customer experience.
In 2014, Graham and others started making a deliberate shift in strategy to focus on CX. Comcast has a Chief Experience Officer and board-level support for prioritizing this focus, which is a keystone for any telecom that wants to make a significant improvement for its customers.
With this support in place, the question was, “How do we get scientific and strategic about moving the needle on CX?”
Give customers more control through transparency.
Telecom customers are notoriously disloyal. Millennials, in particular, are very fickle and cost-conscious. Even more so, they are value conscious. Telecoms must have the rational table stakes in place (price, quality, reliability, etc.) before customers will even consider sticking around.
Comcast discovered its customer churn was strongly correlated to its Net Promoter Score℠ (NPS), so the company performed an analysis to see what drivers were impacting that score. As Comcast looked at various stages of the relationship, from awareness to purchase to onboarding, they asked questions like, “What are the drivers during the onboarding process?” or “What are the drivers when issues like billing come up?”
Comcast found when it gave customers more visibility into things like prices, speeds, etc. that the customers felt more in control. That transparency was key to building customer trust and longer-term relationships.
If telecoms can set expectations up front, communicating both the positive and the negative (e.g., rate increases and the timeline for promotions)) the customer feels like they have enough control to make educated choices. Gone are the days when companies can hike up prices and send the customer a notification in the mail. The more explicit telecoms are in managing expectations, the happier customers will be, and the less they will have to call in about down the road (saving the customer time and the company money).
Consequently, over the past year, Comcast has seen a massive decrease in call volume—to the tune of around 20 million fewer calls. That’s improvement.
However, as telecoms educate and become more transparent with their customers, their employees will be required to resolve more complex issues.
Empower your employees.
It’s impossible to talk about comprehensive CX improvement without including employee engagement and feedback.
Moving closer to a people-first culture is a mammoth task in any company, let alone one like Comcast with 130,000 individuals working in the organization. Comcast went about changing its hiring practices at every level of the organization, and have made real improvements on learning from its employees and acting upon employee feedback. In fact, the NPS for Comcast’s employee engagement is up 20 points on average.
While call center employees may not be privy to the strategic business of high-level executives, they should be informed enough to be able to talk relevantly to customers about their situation, as well as feel empowered to make choices that will resolve the issues that come up.
At the end of the day, customers want reliable service and competitive pricing from a company they can trust. Telecoms should not feel like an enemy, but a partner in technology for consumers. When issues arise—as they will in any industry—employees must be empowered to make things right in a timely manner.
When this employee empowerment is combined with a transparency that gives greater control to the customer, telecoms have a mutual ground for resolving roadblocks to customer retention and satisfaction.
If you would like to learn more about improving CX in the telecommunications industry, download our new study here.