Telecoms customers want love, not discounts

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on March 9, 2010

Telecoms customers want love, not discounts

Commitment to improving customer service levels is more important to telecommunication subscribers than product incentives, according to a survey of customer service requirements of over 4,000 European telecoms subscribers.

The online survey, commissioned by eGain  Communications and conducted by YouGov, charted consumer sentiment toward customer service and identified factors that are changing consumer preferences and behaviour.

In contrast to much previous research into the sector, the customer service experiences of telecom providers were rated surprisingly positively, with less than 5% of respondents citing their most recent experience as poor.

The study found that 'talking to a human being' (18.9%) was only the 5th most important customer service priority, with online customer services (such as chat and web self-service) receiving higher degrees of customer preference.

Among the survey's most significant findings:

  • Customer loyalty can be better won through commitment to service levels than through special offers or incentives on products;  
  • Respondents said that commitment to faster (53.7%), more consistent and personal (38.1%), and multichannel (41.2%) customer service would make the most difference to them;  
  • Only 24% placed 'more special offers' among their top three preferences across Europe (and only 14% in Germany);  
  • Providing access to customer service through 'any conceivable communication method' (such as online self-service, telephone, chat, email and SMS) was more important to French (47.3%) and German (44.4%) consumers than the British (35.5%);  
  • Talking to a human being is less important than getting a fast, accurate or personalised and consistent response;  
  • When asked 'What do you feel is most important to your own customer experience when dealing with your telecoms service providers?,' only 20% cited 'access to a contact centre agent' in their top two preferences;  
  • Getting a knowledgeable response to a query was most important to respondents, with 41.6% citing this requirement in their top two preferences;  
  • 24/7 service availability (34.57%), a quick response to a query (33.1%), and personalised and consistent service (30.88%) also scored well amongst respondents' top two preferences;  
  • The majority of respondents rated their latest customer service experience as positive, although UK respondents were less optimistic than French and German subscribers about future service levels;  
  • Of respondents who already had a communications provider, 55.3% cited their latest customer service interaction as positive, with 15% saying it was 'excellent';  
  • Experiences were less positive for older age groups, with only 50.35% of 55+ year olds having a 'good' or 'excellent' experience, compared to 57.9% of 18-24 year olds;  
  • Consumers were more optimistic (22%) than pessimistic (9.5%) about the development of their telecoms customer service levels over the coming 12 months, and only 2.75% of respondents thought that service levels would worsen significantly over that time.

The survey also noted that consumer preferences for online customer service appear to vary according to the specific situation. For example:

  • Customers are happiest to serve themselves for upgrades (with 34.4% placing web self-service as their preferred contact method), yet they want some level of interaction for problem resolution (with 27.7% and18.8% of respondents citing email and web chat respectively, as their preferred contact methods);  
  • While 18.8% (23% in the UK) chose web chat as their preferred channel of communication for problem resolution, less than half this number (8.26%) would choose it when trying to upgrade;  
  • French consumers expressed the highest overall preference for e-service channels, with 81% preferring them for problem resolution (compared to 77% in the UK and 63% in Germany);  
  • Demand for customer service delivery through social media and mobile devices was ranked surprisingly low in consumers' service priorities, although younger respondents expressed twice the average level of interest;  
  • Very few respondents agreed that a commitment to extending customer service options through social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter (5.3%), and supporting mobile device interfaces (9.6%) would make a significant difference to them;  
  • Demand for customer service delivered through mobile devices was highest among the youngest respondents (12.3% of 18-24 year olds), almost twice that of the oldest (6.8% of 55+year olds).

"These results suggest an ongoing acceleration in telecoms customer service innovation and investment, but many telcos still have some way to go in successfully meeting the fast-paced change of consumer demand," concluded Andrew Mennie, general manager for eGain EMEA.

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