Telecom firms lead race into social media

Cerillion Technologies, provider of next generation customer management systems, has announced the results of research investigating how small, medium sized and rising telcos (SMARTs) feel about the customer experience they provide, as well as their goals, expectations and current strategies.

The research, which was conducted by the analyst firm Telesperience on behalf of Cerillion, identified the challenges facing SMARTs in managing and improving the customer experience, and uncovered key trends. Particularly notable is the rapidly rising use of social media as a new channel, with 40% of SMARTs already using social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter, and a further 30% actively seeking to roll out support for these.

Other findings from the study include that SMARTs see a positive customer experience as being essential for their business. Currently rating its importance as eight on a one to 10 scale (with 10 being critical), they expect its future significance to rise to nine out of 10. But although the customer experience is seen as a vital differentiator, both from other SMARTs and from larger rivals, nine out of 10 SMARTs admit they could improve their performance in this area.

The number one customer experience goal is improving loyalty, with 88% of SMARTs stating their main motivation for customer experience improvements is to reduce churn and improve loyalty; 76% are hoping to reduce the number of customer complaints and queries; and 73% aim to improve the speed of resolving customer problems.

Online customer service is now the most popular channel, with 91% of SMARTs either currently supporting the online channel, or rolling out support for it. Yet current systems are not meeting requirements. Many of the customer experience systems currently being used by SMARTs are custom-built to the company’s specific requirements. However, despite this only 34% of SMARTs are happy that their current systems support their customer experience goals.

“The surprising result for me from this research programme was how many SMARTs are planning to invest in social channels. This fundamentally challenges the impression that SMARTs are ‘behind the curve’ when it comes to the customer experience and demonstrates that many are actually customer experience leaders,” commented Teresa Cottam, research director of Telesperience.

She cautioned: “While social media holds the potential to revolutionise the customer experience, CSPs should avoid creating yet another silo, and instead ensure that social initiatives are integrated into a true multi-channel customer experience and aligned with CSPs’ overarching goals. Ultimately, they should seek to deliver a consistent, seamless and appropriate customer experience wherever the interaction or transaction is initiated.”

Added Louis Hall, CEO, Cerillion Technologies: “In high growth markets where prepaid is now the payment method of choice, a focus on rapid customer acquisition often comes at the detriment of the overall customer experience. With the right support systems infrastructure, SMARTs have a huge opportunity to differentiate their offerings by providing a superior customer experience and making this experience consistent across all their service channels.”