Let’s face it: for many years, the telecoms industry has had a bad rap when it comes to customer service. According to research by independent consumer champion Which?, last year telecoms brands had the worse-rated customer service score, with energy and travel firms not far behind.
Why are telecoms companies failing their customers? Poor communication, inflexible policies and unsatisfactory issue-handling top the list. However, this isn’t always the case. It’s generally the big, behemoth telecoms brands that continually score low in consumer surveys, but many telecoms companies, especially the smaller organisations, have excellent customer service.
For these SMEs, offering a great customer experience is a key priority for their business. This is because the impact of poor customer service is more deeply felt, with customers quickly jumping ship after a bad experience and the business swiftly nosediving.
There are numerous benefits of good customer service, and not just in the telecoms industry, but in every sector. Here we detail 10 advantages of more customer focused telecoms.
1. Receive Third-Party Endorsement from Happy Customers
A happy customer will become a brand’s biggest fan. They might leave online reviews on trusted third-party sites, such as Trustpilot, leave feedback on social media channels as well as positively rate your service or product in other public forums.
This third-party endorsement adds massive credibility to a brand’s reputation. People are more inclined to trust an independent opinion talking about how brilliant a company, product or service is rather than if that message came directly from the company’s mouth with no supporting proof or evidence.
When customer service is done well, the organisation can prompt customers to leave reviews or ratings, as well as use that customer story as a testimonial on its own channels. For example, by adding it to the website or using it in email communications.
Recent research has found that:
- 92% of consumers read online reviews and testimonials before making a purchase
- 88% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- 72% trust a business more after reading positive online reviews
A great customer experience that translates into online ratings, reviews and endorsements can increase conversion rates by 4.6% for one product or service with 50 or more reviews. It can also help with SEO and drive search traffic to company specific keywords by 15-20% when a business has 10 or more favourable online reviews.
2. Boost Customer Loyalty
One of the key benefits of good customer service is that customers will stick around. A good experience retains customers for the long term. A poor experience will see customers heading straight for the door.
Nowadays, consumers are more discerning, more demanding and “more likely to vote with their feet,” according to Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service. When there are so many options available, consumers don’t need to stay with one provider and will quickly move to a competitor if they receive sub-standard service.
The impact of poor customer service will irrevocably damage a business in the telecoms industry. This could be keeping customers waiting on the phone, sending a bill with incorrect charges, misleading ‘small print’ with hidden charges or unexplained service downtime.
Whatever the issue, customers will leave in droves – likely never to return.
A third of customers will immediately leave a brand after one poor customer service experience. With 49% saying they would only tolerate two to three bad experiences before giving up on a company. Another study found that 66% of consumers who switched brands did so because of poor service.
It costs significant money to continually attract new customers to your business with advertising and promotions. However, increasing customer retention rates by just 5% could increase profits from 25% to 95%. Customer focused telecoms will not only convert those new leads, but keep them for many years to come.
3. Upsell and Cross-sell Opportunities
When customers receive a positive brand experience they’re more likely to remain with that company, as well as purchase more products and services.
Building strong relationships with customers at every touchpoint enables a telecoms company to sell more products and services to them.
They will be more receptive to the idea of buying from you because you’ve invested energy in building up their trust in your brand.
The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, versus the probability of selling to a new prospect at just 5-20%. When a customer enjoys dealing with you, they’ll do so again and again because it’s a pleasure rather than a big pain.
4. Promote Staff Happiness
When you have happy customers, you have a happier workforce. When you have happy staff, you have happier customers. It’s one big happy circle, and one which many of the world’s biggest brands advocate.
No one wants to go to work to get ranted at by an angry customer, or a bunch of angry customers. Equally, no customer wants to call a company to be put through to a miserable or unhelpful representative. There is a deep connection between employee experience and customer experience. Get it wrong and your brand can suffer.
Engaged staff are friendly, positive, innovative, solutions-orientated, patient and proud to work for that company. This translates into great communication with customers. Disengaged staff are demoralised, bored, frustrated, stressed, uncooperative and couldn’t care less about the company they work for. This often equals poor customer service.
One report found that engaged employees are more likely to improve customer relationships resulting in a 20% increase in sales.
Ultimately your brand is represented by your people. By focusing on your employees, ensuring they’re empowered, motivated and supported, you’ll improve your customer service. This, in turn, will enhance your staff happiness. It’s a win win situation.
5. Bolster Business Growth
One of the benefits of good customer service is the opportunity to grow your business. Once you get the product or service right, the customer service spot on and your internal processes running smoothly, then you can rinse and repeat. You’ll have a blueprint for business growth.
Through excellent customer service, you’ll understand what your customers want and how to give it to them.
Knowing your market inside out and what makes your customers tick will differentiate you from competitors.
Building a strong rapport with customers will also allow you to introduce new products and services to them without the risk of damaging a relationship by being too pushy or salesy. You can use your existing client base, or your hero customers, to test new ideas for services and products without fully committing as well as run soft launches targeted initially to loyal customers.
6. Enhance Brand Reputation
Having a reputation for outstanding customer service will enhance your brand and help you to stand out among a sea of telecoms companies with less than favourable customer service. It will boost awareness as well as prompt new leads to search you out. Your brand will be in the front of people’s minds when considering a new telecoms product or service provider.
It’s been predicted that by 2020 the promise of great customer service will become more important to customers than price or product as the key brand differentiator.
With this in mind, it’s more important than ever to focus on a more positive, customer focused telecoms experience.
Today, three quarters (76%) of UK adults say a positive customer experience is more important than the product, and 55% of customers are willing to pay more for a guaranteed good experience.
If you focus now on building a name for yourself as a telecoms industry provider with good customer service then this reputation will continue to reap benefits long into the future. As the stats above show, many customers are willing to pay more for great customer experience.
7. Attract the Best Talent
Being renowned as a company that values its customers will not only attract new buyers, it will also attract great talent to your company. People will want to work for a well-known and well-respected business and you’ll have the pick of hires when it comes to recruitment.
Employing motivated and talented individuals will heighten your business in terms of innovation, productivity, communication and achievement.
Job satisfaction will continually improve the mood of your workforce, which in turn will help deliver optimal customer service (see point four).
Recruiting staff takes time and replacing an average employee can cost an SME up to £11,000 in recruitment agency fees, advertising, training plus your own time which could be spent more effectively elsewhere.
Having a steady stream of talented people knocking on your door due to a strong brand reputation will save your business money and effort.
8. Prompt Word of Mouth Recommendations
It’s true, we’re more likely to rant and rave about a terrible encounter with a company than a good one. After a bad experience, 30% of consumers tell the company, 50% tell their friends, 15% provide feedback on a ratings site and 14% Tweet about it.
However, customers who enjoyed a good experience tell on average of 11 people about it. Word of mouth recommendations are still important in the digital age. We listen to our friends, family and colleagues when they tell us about a great product they purchased or a delicious meal they had at a new restaurant.
Positive online reviews are essential (see point one), but peer-to-peer influence is still very much alive and kicking.
Herd instinct is a natural part of human behaviour. This is how many new technologies take off and become mainstream, because one happy user tells their friend, who tells their colleague, who tells their sister and so on.
It’s estimated that word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20-50% of all purchasing decisions. This figure increases when a consumer is considering an expensive new product or service.
They will reach out to those close to them for opinions as well as researching online. A happy customer will be forthcoming in telling a friend or family member about a business or brand that they’ve had a positive experience with.
9. Improve Products, Services, Procedures and Staff
The impact of poor customer service sees many businesses shut up shop. However, rather than burying your head in the sand, the feedback from unhappy customers can be put to good use.
Those remarks and comments can be proactively used to improve products, services, procedures and staff. Pinpoint if there is a common theme to the criticism given by disappointed customers. Then devise solutions and upgrades, and persevere in fixing the problem.
It could be that customers keep being overcharged due to mistakes in your billing procedure, perhaps they’re infuriated by long call waiting times or maybe they’re confused by your call charges and can’t get a straight answer from your uninformed team members.
Whatever the issue, disgruntled customers will tell you how it is. They won’t beat about the bush. Embrace this honesty to help improve your business and your customer service.
10. Identify Communication Bottlenecks
Historically there were only one or two ways for a customer to contact a business. Now, there are many. These include via a website, social media, phone call, text message, mobile app, email, live chat, written or face-to-face.
No one customer is the same, they don’t keep the same hours or want to engage with brands in the same way.
If consumers aren’t offered a selection of methods to get in touch with you so they can pick the option that best suits them, then they will quickly take their custom elsewhere.
Some customers like to engage with a brand using more than one method, for example via social media and by the phone. Now, 75% of consumers expect a consistent experience wherever they engage with brands.
It’s critical to ensure your customer experience is excellent no matter what communication channel your customer chooses to contact you on. Feedback from customers will help you to identify where there is a breakdown in communication and what can be improved.
Customer Focused Telecoms
As the above demonstrates, there are many benefits of good customer service. In the telecoms industry, there are companies who are getting it right with glowing customer reviews and excellent client retention. With the huge choice available now to discerning customers, focusing on improving customer service will attract new leads and keep them.