TMCnet Feature
March 22, 2012

Amdocs Survey Looks at Mobile Service Provider Opportunities to Improve Customer Experiences with their Contact Centers, Cut Traffic and Increase Efficiency

By Peter Bernstein, Senior Editor

Here is a conundrum that many mobile service providers (MSPs) are pondering. How can they manage all the information across multiple devices and channels without exponentially increasing their support costs, and yet provide a superior customer experience? This is truly a non-trivial challenge in a world where MSPs must confront two intractable trends:

  • Customers are becoming increasingly disloyal and support or lack thereof is emerging as a significant differentiator.
  • Contact centers in most enterprises are increasingly transforming from being viewed as cost centers to being critical components of everything —not just as a means to solve problems and hopefully reduce churn, but as valuable information resources to be strategically integrated with sales, marketing, business process automation and a variety of internal workflow issues.

With this in mind, Amdocs commissioned a new global survey of 2,900 smartphone customers in January 2012, conducted by Coleman Parkes Research, that examined what the authors found is a huge gap between customer expectations and SP Solutions. It  explores changing consumer behavior, the impact of their expectations on customer support and what MSPs can do to what those who ride the London subway are constantly remind to do, e.g., “mind the gap.”  The findings make for interesting reading.

The results are in

There is a lot to chew on in the study so below is a summary to whet your appetite, but be forewarned that each of these bullets has significant granularity behind it: 

  • Consumers prefer digital channels for “How Do I” type of questions but are forced to rely on contact centers for solutions. In fact, nearly half the customers (49 percent) prefer not to call contact centers for such questions.
  • Consumers don’t use self service to resolve “How Do I” questions, as they expect answers to be incorrect or inaccurate. Roughly 83 percent of consumers are aware of self-service options, only 37 percent of the consumers actually use online self service options on devices for “How do I” inquiries.
  • Consumers turning to social media for support, but three in four did not receive a satisfactory response via SPs’ social media channels.
  • Consumers want a single place online for solutions rather than searching online, with 91 percent saying they would use such a capability to save them from Google (News - Alert)-type searches.
  • Consumers expect proactive notifications for impending issues. This was overwhelmingly true, with 96 percent of customers expecting SPs to proactively inform them about major known issues related to their device.

A simple snapshot of just what is flooding contact centers right now in regards to new smartphone owner interactions speaks volumes.

Source (News - Alert): Amdocs Coleman Parkes Study

As suggested in the title of the survey, it’s ugly out there. There is a huge gap between customer expectations and what they experience when they contact their MSPs, and failure to address this gap given the trends is perilous.

In the press release announcing the study results, Ian Parkes, director and co-founder at Coleman Parkes, stated, "We are seeing a major shift in customer behavior… Consumers prefer to seek answers to common questions through online resources. However, many end users believe service providers’ online services cannot solve their problems, so they gravitate back to the call center. There is a clear opportunity for service providers to take control of the experience and to reduce costs."

How big an opportunity? The study said more than 40 percent of calls to contact centers could be deflected to low-cost online services. Rebecca Prudhomme, vice president of product marketing for Amdocs (News - Alert), added, "By monitoring and analyzing real-time customer information, service providers can deflect calls, which will simplify the customer experience while reducing call center volumes considerably."

What can MSPs do?

Amdocs has some suggestions as to how MSPs can not only close the gap but how they can do so in a cost-effective manner that actually enhances customer experiences while optimizing contact center people and process responsiveness and productivity.

In Amdocs’ view, it boils down to three key investment themes:

  1. Create a “single version of the truth”
  2. Enhance the self-service experience
  3. Leverage internal and external customer insights for proactive care

None of these efforts are easy, but the payoff can be huge. 

Create a “single version of the truth”:   This includes maximizing adoption of mobile apps via native user experiences for smart devices, minimizing clicks via “one touch” action libraries, increasing accuracy by leveraging account knowledge about intent and context, leveraging crowd-sourced knowledge, and providing consistent and accurate answers.

Enhance the self-service experience: A bit obvious, but customers need their experiences to be easy to access, easy to use, and the same no matter what their chosen device for interaction.

 Leverage internal and external customer insights for proactive care: There are three rules of the road on this one:

  • Identify key events in customer lifecycle – bill shock, device issues, cross-sell-up sell opportunities
  • Decide if, when and how to treat problems according to defined policies and rules
  • Apply treatment proactively, i.e., recommend a communication channel, trigger a communication and link to actions

At the risk of being repetitious, since it is a common theme in covering our industry, “the bottom line is the bottom line.” 

We live in a world where the competition is only a click, touch or gesture away.   Massive numbers of peoples’ mobile plans are constantly up for renewal and the need to add devices to accounts is exploding. Customers are looking around and support is important in their consideration of provider.  MSPs can’t afford to risk their businesses by not paying close attention to improving their customers’ experiences when they interact with MSP contact centers.  

To mind the gap properly may dictate a change in business perspective regarding the proper care and feeding for contact centers. This will entail taking a much closer look at contact center strategic value as well as the tactics needed to stay in the game in the short term.   As the Amdocs commissioned survey highlights, it would behoove MSPs to give the Amdocs study a thorough read a mind not just the gap but the call to action.

Edited by Rich Steeves
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