When you hear the words “customer service”, what immediately comes to mind? You might think of the textbook definition: the way you can resolve issues with a specific company. On the other hand, your skeptical side may come out and think of a false promise filled with long waits and inadequate results. Unfortunately, telecom customers have increasingly fallen into the latter category.
With slick marketing campaigns, telecoms constantly promote the speed and quality of their customer service. Smiling, attractive company representatives wearing wireless headsets patiently walk customers through their problems. The promotions essentially say, “We care about customer satisfaction more than anything.”
But as we all know, this utopian belief doesn’t always live up to the real-world experience. You get stuck in an endless phone tree, unable to speak to an actual human being. If you do connect to a live person, you might have difficulty understanding them – the company has obviously outsourced their customer service operation to a country far away. You try the online help option but it doesn’t seem to work much better.
All of this is changing due to the power of social media.
Telecom companies can no longer hide behind the slogans dreamed up by their advertising agencies. Customers are having conversations with each other on Facebook and Twitter, they’re talking directly to the companies and telling them what’s wrong, and everyone can witness how the telecoms react.
What should telecom CEOs and CTOs do? We know they’re mainly concerned with profits, and for many of them, there’s a fear that improving how they serve customers will cut into the bottom line. They’re also worried about churn, otherwise known as losing or retaining customers.
Yet despite these twin problems, telecom leaders often cling to inefficient, outdated customer service technology and processes, believing they’ll save money when they’re actually slashing profits and driving customers away. On the surface, it looks like they believe that profits are independent of service, when in fact the two inherently affect one another.
As evidence, a new study found that T-Mobile gets the highest ranking for customer satisfaction over Verizon, AT&T and Sprint – all despite the fact that T-Mobile’s service and reliability aren’t as good as those competitors.
T-Mobile has taken the customer perspective by creating more flexible plans and services, and thus leading to a more positive footprint on social media. They weren’t afraid to make a short-term investment for a long-term payoff. Instead of paying lip service to customers, they’re actually providing good service to customers. The results of the study show that while it’s important to have cutting edge technology, it can never outweigh poor service.
Other telecoms would be wise to use T-Mobile as a model. Telecom executives need to remind themselves how they like to be treated as individuals. What types of experiences make them appreciate a brand? What types of interactions make them disapprove of a company? The answers should inform how they upgrade their customer service offerings, as well as their phone and data plans.
Done correctly, these improvements will both attract and retain customers, many whom will be praising them on social media. Don’t believe us? Ignore the public at your peril.