An FAQ doesn’t cut it for customer service

We all know what it is like to have a bad customer experience.  They can come in many forms, whether it is navigating a website, dealing with an assistant that doesn’t understand the products they sell, or customer service agent that lacks the technical skills to help with your problem.  Heck sometimes it can be infuriating trying to get to speak with anyone at all!

Customer experience matters more now than ever before.  In many sectors it is being seen as the key differentiator in the years ahead, pushing pricing down the list.  According to research by global marketing agency Merkle, 66% of consumers already care more about experience than price when making a brand decision.  A B2B decision-making is certainly heading the same way – relationships matter!

As an industry, telecoms does not have a great reputation for customer service, whether in the consumer or business world.  One of the challenges is that we have complicated products and service offerings.  Choosing a new broadband subscription or mobile phone contract can be hard enough, never mind the finer details of dealing with IP packet loss or a fibre cut in the middle of the night.

One of the biggest mistakes in customer service is the view that agents are ‘just a body to pick up the phone’ when the reality is very different.  Some companies push as much customer service online as possible, because they view it as more efficient, but it is important to remember that personal contact builds trust, can be quicker, and leads to increased brand loyalty.  Leaving customers to wander aimlessly around ‘knowledge bases’ and FAQs with no way to reach a customer service team isn’t really customer service.

Our own customer service centre teams couldn’t be further from this old attitude.  They are highly qualified and we reap the benefits of their expertise.  90% of our team hold BSc or MSc degrees in computer science or communications subjects, and a third have two technical degrees – many are multilingual too.  It means our ‘fix first time’ rate keeps improving and is well above 70%, which is great for such a technical industry.

We’ve brought everything we have learnt about building a strong customer service experience into a white paper called “The top 5 CX evaluation criteria for network connectivity partners”.  It talks in detail about each area, and even includes a checklist to help you review your own customer experience offering and make the absolute best choice as part of an objective process.

Technology does remain an important part of delivering customer service, but it is ubiquitous.  The personal touch delivered by smart people matters more and more – along with culture, process and the value you place in that team.  Customer care needs more attention and as an industry we need to take pride in building the best teams.

Andy Everest,
Chief Procurement Officer & Head of Service Delivery