The art of finding a good connection…with your (telecoms) customers
Night following day; rain on a Bank Holiday weekend; terrible Wi-Fi when you’re on that all-important Zoom call. There are few cast-iron certainties in life, but frustrating customer experiences when it comes to mobile phone and internet providers are surely among them.
You know the drill. Either your friend is doing a terrible impression of an alien speaking underwater, or there’s something wrong with your phone.
With 45 minutes before the school run, you go online to the live chat customer services support. You quickly realise you are dealing with a chatbot that doesn’t recognise your query.
You call customer support and after half an hour, you are finally through to a human, pass the security questions and talk through your issues at length. “You can’t help? Transferred to technical support? I thought you were technical support? No, wait, I haven’t got ti…. “.
A Which? survey in 2019 on customer service saw respondents place telecoms among the bottom industries when it came to the service they’d received. They rated how helpful and knowledgeable staff were, how they made them feel and how well they handled complaints. BT, TalkTalk and Virgin Media were in the bottom five out of one hundred brands.
With the telecoms industry a notoriously competitive market and a relatively small number of brands jostling for position, small variables in the customer experience can make a big difference. Ensuring customers can get the answers or help they need quickly on and offline is the tip of the iceberg.
While the industry may be getting parts of the user experience right, the journey involves many touch points. Get one part wrong and all the good points can quickly be forgotten.
Here Redbox takes a look at some of the areas telecom brands are getting right, and where there’s room for improvement.
Room for improvement
Deal or no deal?
Customers want easy access to information, on and offline. They need to be able to compare and contrast products and services quickly in order to make fuss-free, informed decisions and purchases.
Yet, many telecoms brands have made relatively simple processes anything but.
Nowadays, customers can seek out the same deals online as in store. But with growing ranges of products and better margins to be made from packages of minutes, messages, data, channels and more, mobile phone operators and network and internet providers often leave customers feeling as though they are going around in circles as they try to work out their best options.
Redbox CEO Jonty Sutton believes this often leads to negative customer experiences and feedback.
He said: “The complexity of the deals on offer online make things confusing. Customers don’t understand the difference between Package A and Package B. There are often too many variables that make them complex.
“Mobile phones, for instance, don’t have much of a margin, so the phone brands are trying to eke what they can from the deals on the number of minutes offered and data.
“But there are many deals and too many choices - and no one understands the deal they are getting. It’s hard enough to compare one phone company’s range, let alone offers and deals from each phone company.
“This isn’t the way to entice customers or keep them. Simplicity and transparency online are important as customers don’t have face-to-face contact with someone who can answer a quick question and this can often lead to negative online experiences.”
Working on one of the largest Adobe Enterprise Management (AEM) and Adobe Commerce implementations in Europe for a leading UK telco, Redbox has first-hand experience of this in the industry.
The project introduced many complexities around upselling and cross-selling with contract renewal and upgrades and accessories.
“Some telecoms companies are now starting to strip back the complex nature of deals on their sites and this makes it a lot easier for customers to navigate,” Jonty added.
Getting UX right online
The user journey is notoriously difficult for brands in the telecoms industry to get right.
Having to adhere to strict industry standards and legal guidelines, which could include credit checking, ID checks and information they have to show customers as part of the Ts & Cs, can make the check-out process wearisome and leave customers feeling fraught.
With only small margins to be had and competition fierce, every stage of the customer journey is crucial in attracting and retaining customers and making those all-important sales.
Jonty said: “Unlike other industries, telecoms can’t be a one-click journey.
“There are often 100s of handsets to choose from and the countless user journeys make it difficult for consumers to navigate. Get one part of the user journey wrong and the process can become drawn-out and frustrating that it can lead to more abandoned baskets.
“There are tariffs combined with deals and different rules for customers with different credit histories. There are so many of these combinations.
“However, they are necessary evils. There are often contracts involved, so there has to be clarity to allow the customers to understand what they are signing-up for.
“It’s about building the UX to give the customer the information up front - not bouncing them around at the checkout. These journeys can be streamlined – sometimes just subtly - and that’s where our experience in this field can play a massive part.”
What telecoms is getting right?
One area of UX that the industry is getting right however, is the self-service side. Yes, in many cases the user journey could be more fluid and brands need to pay close attention to streamlining these to avoid frustration, but the very fact that brands have made a complex process involving products, minutes, texts, data and more, into packages customers can pick from themselves with a few clicks, is a feat in itself.
Go back a few years and it was a rite of passage for mobile phone users to find a store to inspect the size and specs of the phones and talk to someone in-store before making a handset decision. You would also need to talk to a broadband provider or customer service representative to ensure you were getting the right package for your home.
Now, as the tech and products become more familiar and ecommerce platforms become easier to navigate, customers are able to make informed decisions and purchases themselves.
The global self-service market is expected to reach $46.03billion by 2027.
The huge rise in video over the past few years has enabled brands to showcase their products in a manner of ways, so customers don’t feel they need to see or feel it the flesh. Influencers can help this process further as they provide unbiased and in-depth reviews of a product. You can understand what it does, how big it is, it’s strengths and weaknesses, without the need for a salesman.
Customers are able to tap in to apps that explain things clearly, have accessible customer service reps on chat, with bills, data usage and other information easy to decipher and find.
Jonty said: “There has been a real evolution in self-service. Whether app or site, some processes have been simplified to enable customers to find product information quickly, upgrade their plans, manage their account, pay a bill and make other, independent choices online.”
The telecoms industry is a notoriously competitive market, but new demands and new technologies are seeing the market widen. It’s more crucial than ever for brands to take a step back, check every aspect of the online customer journey and make changes where appropriate.
Jonty added: “The telecoms industry is complex, so it’s even more important to get every area of the user journey right. Consumers are more comfortable buying a mobile phone online than ever before, but this doesn’t mean there aren’t frustrations or kinks in the overall experience that can’t be ironed out. This is where Redbox comes in.”
Redbox has touched upon a few areas it believes essential to future ecommerce and digital success.
Simplify deals and promotions
Deals and promotions are an important differentiator for telecoms brands, but can leave customers in knots. Simplicity and transparency online are crucial as customers don’t have the safety net of talking to someone face-to-face as they would do in-store.
Get your UX right
With so many legal constraints and industry processes, the telecoms user experience online can be complicated. Using digital experts who understand these issues and find major or even subtle ways to streamline these journeys, can be crucial.
Help your customers help themselves
How easy is it for customers to make choices between products? Is there more you could do to showcase these? How easy is if for customers to navigate your online platform and find what they want to make decisions and purchases?
To find out more about how Redbox can help improve the customer experience and drive ecommerce success, get in touch. It’s good to talk.