Self-help is getting popular – no wonder!

Written by on June 18, 2015 in Opinion with 0 Comments

Self-helpLatest research on service provider interaction by smartphone users from Alcatel-Lucent reveals growing popularity of self-help customer service tools. The research highlights the fact that communications service providers have a tremendous opportunity to differentiate themselves in the marketplace with the use of innovative self-help customer service tools.

The comprehensive study of smartphone users was carried out recently in Brazil, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States and found that consumers prefer to avoid dealing with service provider helpdesks, and that there is growing evidence of a preference for using app-based self-service tools to resolve many common service issues.

The market research found that:

  • More than a quarter of Japanese, UK and US consumers prefer not to call helpdesks.
  • Almost half of Brazilians are more likely to ignore a problem or allow it to persist to avoid contacting a helpdesk.
  • While customer service helpdesks remain the primary channel for resolving services issues, it is not the only channel and consumers are showing a growing interest in self-service tools.
  • Japanese consumers are most willing to use self-help tools such as apps, with up to half of UK consumers and as many as 42 percent of those in the US willing to sort out their own issues. In Brazil, 53-59 percent did report a willingness to use self-service tools, depending on the service.
  • The functions consumers most want to see in service providers’ apps include billing information, troubleshooting capabilities, usage tracking and security alerts.

The study, conducted with the market research firm Penn Schoen Berland, surveyed 5,500 consumer smartphone users who had strong input/influence when it comes to communication purchases. The research looked at a range of consumer trends in mobile communications, including how smartphone users prefer to interact with large companies, use of Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and Voice over Wi-Fi, wearable devices, future communications including connected vehicles, and customer experience management.

Methodology

The survey interviewed 2,500 consumers in the United States, plus 1,000 each in Brazil, Japan and the United Kingdom. They were asked to give their thoughts on:

  • Satisfaction with their current provider of mobile, high-speed Internet and television services;
  • Perceptions of overall service performance;
  • Views on existing apps for various services;
  • What features they would like in apps from their service provider.

The research ties in with comments made by Jo Causon, CEO of The Institute of Customer Service, reacting to news that that Vodafone had been named the most complained about mobile phone company. He said: “Customer complaints have probably never been higher than they are today. They are more savvy, better informed and more willing to voice their frustrations.  Couple this with the rise of social media and it means that how organisations handle a complaint is the ultimate test of their scope for growth.

“The simple fact is that complaints are a ‘moment of truth’ for any organisation; handled well they can be a source of loyalty, but handled poorly the cost in terms of short-term profitability and long-term market share and reputation can be immense.”

According to the latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index, the telecoms sector is in 11th place – out of 13 – suggesting that it has some way to go to ensure customer needs are being met.  The data shows a customer satisfaction score of 71.6 (out of 100) – representing the fourth consecutive period that satisfaction levels have dropped in the sector.

Causon adds: “Things will only get better if the sector provides a clear and easy way for customers to make a complaint and if they resolve issues rapidly.  More than 1 in 5 consumers now use social media to register complaints and as a result they expect a quick response.  Going forward it means organisations should analyse the type of complaints they receive to identify the issues customers find most annoying.  If they benchmark against competitors they may be better able to see what is an industry trend and what they can do, specifically, to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

Josh Aroner, Vice President, IP Platforms Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent, said: “Customer experience management is a primary focus for Communications Service Providers worldwide. Keeping customers happy and, at the same time, alleviating strain on call centers, can be complex and challenging. This market research sets forth the critical areas where CSPs can effectively offer a self-help approach to give customers greater control over their service and more efficiently manage help desk operations.”

So, If the telecoms industry has such a poor customer satisfaction rating and the research shows that customers prefer self-help channels then why isn’t every telco rushing into the self-car space? Better still, why not make calling customer service such an agonising experience it will drive customers to self-help. Oh, silly me, that’s obviously what’s happening already!

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About the Author

About the Author: Tony is a freelance writer, regular speaker, MC and chairman for the telecoms and digital services industries worldwide. He has founded and managed software and services companies, acts a market strategist and is now Editor of DisruptiveViews. In June 2011, Tony was recognized as one of the 25 most influential people in telecom software worldwide. .

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