The future of telecoms customer service increasingly online

Telecoms companies will increasingly rely on online platforms to deliver customer service in an attempt to fight back against spiralling costs and a more competitive market, according to Ovum.

In a new report, the independent telecoms analyst unveils the findings of its research into the priorities of telco customer service directors, which reveals that online portals will see some of the greatest growth in investment, as telcos seek to improve customer service and satisfaction levels, while managing rising costs.

Clare McCarthy, Ovum practice leader and co-author of the report, commented: “To secure customer loyalty in the face of disruptive competitors, such as Apple and Amazon, telcos need to be accessible, responsive, consistent, and effective.

“Web-based customer service delivers on accessibility and consistency and has the added benefit of diverting costs away from more expensive alternatives such as contact centres. In addition, it has the ability to scale without adding massively to costs, so it’s easy to see why telcos are increasingly viewing it as a high investment priority.”

One of the key drivers of the online customer service push is the huge growth in the smartphone market, and the subsequent rise in mobile broadband traffic, which is placing an unsustainable burden on existing telco customer service infrastructure. Queries regarding smartphones can take 10 times longer to resolve than those for high-end mobile devices that were available five years ago. This is driving investment in online portals that enable customers to self-serve their smartphone problems.

McCarthy commented: “Allowing the customer to solve their own problems, such as resetting passwords and checking account balances online, is a lesson the telcos can take from other verticals.

“If portals are easy to navigate, and customers can see that their issue has been resolved satisfactorily, they are more likely to be happier with their telco supplier. However, this is not the whole story, as not all customers want to use online customer service.

“Telcos know they must follow the customer journey on the customer’s terms. It is for this reason that even telcos continue to improve their service offers in retail stores and through contact centres.”