Customer Service is an Opportunity, Not a Cost

One of my constant themes here¬†at MobHappy is that any customer interaction is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to increase satisfaction and loyalty, increase advocacy, increase usage of basic services, encourage usage of more services and ultimately decrease churn. It also makes your marketing costs more efficient as it costs significantly less to maximise revenues from an existing customer than to go out and get a new one.

This should be pretty obvious and I’m clearly not the only one banging this particular drum.

So if you don’t work for an operator (or in any event are¬†very familiar with how they run their businesses), you’ll find this article (registration needed) rather extraordinary. While it’s written by the Marketing Manager of LogicaCMG, who is trying to sell operators systems to help improve customer service, the bald facts can’t be argued with.

Consider:

* Most operator customer service people don’t even¬†have access to basic¬†account information like the¬†the make and model of the phone, when the customer calls. Therefore, the first crucial minutes are spent trying to find that out – that is after you’ve spent time hanging on, inputting your mobile phone number and then having to tell them the phone number when you are put through. Determining the make is pretty easy, but the model number is something else – if you don’t know it, you often have to look in obscure places like under the battery.

If you can’t determine the model, incidentally and the query relates to Internet or MMS¬†settings, as examples, the call is a waste of time and the poor customer service person has about as much chance of solving the problem as reading the answer in tea leaves.

* The CS person has no access to transaction records for the customer. This means that they can’t see what services the customer is using and apply that knowledge to improving usage of the phone or upsell further products and services. “Now Mr Rowehl, I’d like to tell you about this new thing we call ‘text messaging'” “Cool, but I’m finding the WPA support within the wifi stack dodgy. I don’t want to switch to WEP which sucks, so what can you recommend?” “Bleugghhh”.

Logica’s research also points to a worrying trend that the more users try more complex services such as MMS and Internet browsing, the more likely it is that customers will churn. This could be as they’re dissatisfied with the support, but there’s something disarmingly naive about the idea that they might think support will be better elsewhere. Far more likely that as “power” users in the loosest sense, they’re always upgrading and keeping an eye out for better deals.

Having just faced the challenge of moving to a different operator, operating system and far more complex model (Nokia E61), I have to say I’m really struggling with many of the more complex features. Sure I can do the easy stuff like voice, sms, mms, internet browsing, setting up email¬†etc although many of the instructions are not nearly intuitive enough and I had to play with the settings, surprise, surprise. But when it comes like patching through to wifi networks and surfing or VoIP, I’m lost. And just how far do you think the average CS person in an operator is going to help me with that?

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