Social Care in the Cloud

Tweakker on the real customer care issues facing MNOs and MVNOs

The cost of traditional customer care centres is crippling the mobile industry and hampering innovation. With the drive towards greater data usage thanks to the latest generations of smartphones, carriers are becoming increasingly dismayed at the mounting costs of getting customers connected to their networks.

On average, a smartphone user will make three calls to a care centre before getting sorted and the carrier’s cost of providing that service represents a loss of at least one month’s ARPU during the lifespan of a standard 12 month contract.
The stress levels and real anger that call centres create also cannot be underestimated. On average it takes a call centre six minutes to answer a customer call. Recent stats show that 70% of complaints are still made over the phone, even though the amount of email, web and social media complaints are on the increase.

In Britain, YouGov has reported that only 4.1% of people have a good experience when dealing with a call centre. In fact, four out of five people say they have lost their patience and hung up when faced with a long call centre queue, while 69% have had their opinion of a company or service permanently damaged after poor customer service.
Further, 50% have advised family and friends against a company or service that they’ve had a bad experience with, and a quarter have terminated a contract with a company or service that has kept them waiting too long.

Fast Track to Success

The case for maintaining customer care centres is damming and forces the mobile industry to look for new solutions and cloud computing has emerged as the most viable solution going forward.

It’s been established that companies headed for cloud computing will naturally become more innovative, become more profitable and create more jobs if they turn their back on spending significant amounts of time and money on maintaining legacy IT equipment such as in-house server systems and IT software suites.

By focusing their resources on online equipment and SaaS services, companies can concentrate more time in improving their existing products and developing new products.

Mobile network operators (MNO) and virtual mobile network operators (MVNO) are prime examples of this. They have spent the last decade on building complex in-house customer care departments to administrate and distribute knowledge about mobility and mobile customer behaviour.

It is evident today that more and more MNOs and MVNOs are establishing or looking to establish their customer care services in the cloud as self care services or social care services. And it’s easy to understand why.

A large part of the current generation of smartphone users are raised in the cloud and have no interest in spending 30 minutes on a guided tour on the phone when they can help themselves or interact on issues with other users in a beautifully designed and intuitive self-care interface on the web or in an app.

Care in the cloud seems to be the only valid way forward and a direct line to business success. Not only do MNOs and MVNOs save money and time, they also improve their business simply by adjusting their products and communications approach to match the expectations of their audiences.

Today, some MVNOs have subscriber bases composed of more than 90% smartphones making care in the cloud an obvious choice for one very simple reason. The phones are smart! They have big screens, great web browsing capabilities and can facilitate interactive media via applications designed and provided to the customer by the MNO or MVNO.

Giffgaff.com, a successful MVNO in the UK, has built its services almost entirely in the cloud. Driven by the idea that customers are capable of caring for themselves and each other with the technology available today, giffgaff are pioneers in driving mobile business away from the physical platform and into the cloud.

The services of giffgaff will of course not be desired by some users reluctant to change from the old-fashioned land-based support services, but there is little doubt that giffgaff’s strategy and business model will generate more revenue than operators that hesitate to evolve along with consumer behaviour and technology.

Conclusions

When building cloud-based care services, it is essential that operators spend several iterations on mastering the actual interfaces that customers will interact through.

Features are less important as the intuitiveness of the system will be the main driver on the path to creating a successful care platform in the cloud. Never forget that Facebook became a success by simply creating a cloud-based reality that friends could utilize to communicate with each other in a fast and non-complex manner.

Network operators need to create the exact same reality when they build their care services in the cloud

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