How Did We Get It So Wrong? Customer Service Vision Versus the Reality

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Read any article or blog post regarding B2C business operations and you are sure to come across the advice that delivering the best customer experience is one of the best ways to retain valuable customers. It’s no secret that customers are much more demanding and empowered in today’s market and competitors are more disruptive and aggressive in their pursuit of business.

What surprises me though is how disconnected many Communication Service Providers (CSPs) seem to be when faced with the reality of their customers. It seems that for decades, CSPs have been talking about focusing on the customer and how they are changing to become customer-centric. Many CSPs explicitly state this in their strategic corporate objectives. However, even though the technology exists to make this change a reality, there still seems to be a cultural gap that needs to be crossed to bring it about.

In a recent survey, called Moments of Truth, conducted by Pegasystems in the USA, UK and Australia, thousands of consumers were asked about their expectations and experiences of the customer service delivered by their broadband providers. In those same countries, hundreds of business decision makers at broadband service providers were asked about the customer service they felt their companies actually delivered. The different responses that each party gave illustrate the service gap I spoke of earlier.

Almost all of the CSPs believe that exceptional customer service is important to keeping customers, yet just under half of them say they deliver it, and in addition to this, only a measly 27% of customers say they receive it. In fact, 13% of customers would rather sit in traffic on a hot day, or fill out their annual tax return, than call their service provider’s customer support. Phew!

What causes this preference for sweaty frustration over an opportunity to be at the centre of their service provider’s attention? The biggest culprit is CSPs’ lack of understanding of their customers as individuals and subsequent generalisation of the service experience they deliver - 96% of CSPs believe that they know and understand their customers but only 24% of customers agree. That’s a huge disconnect, no?

It is crucial that CSPs recognise that this lack of understanding towards their consumers can have a negative impact on retaining customers. Having a customer service team that listens and understands was one of the top three considerations from customers when choosing a service provider. Being offered irrelevant product or service recommendations was a leading annoyance amongst consumers.

Surely CSPs need to pay more attention to the individual needs of consumers and recognise that how they respond when things go wrong and how accessible they are is incredibly important. These things go a long way to build a successful relationship that can determine long-term loyalty, and in addition to that, market share and profitability.

Slow customer resolutions are cited as another CSP service experience failure - 32% of customers are unhappy with speed of resolution and yet 94% of CSPs feel their speed of response is good. Tellingly, 93% of CSPs admit that speed of response to their customers is a key performance indicator for their operations. Maybe they are measuring the wrong things?

Perhaps the service gaps exist because CSPs underestimate the danger that they put themselves into by failing to change as they said they would? 24% of consumers begin looking for a new service provider after just one poor customer service experience and 78% of consumers rate the quality of customer service as, at least, very important as an evaluation criterion. In total, 38% of consumers admitted that they plan to change their service provider in the next 12 months. Few CSPs can afford 38% churn.

What I find particularly interesting is how CSPs are not managing to meet the different expectations of today’s consumers. Whereas in the past, customer service could be approached with a ‘tick-box’ attitude, this has changed drastically, with consumers now wanting a true customer experience. Making the customer feel truly valued cannot be overlooked, and in such a digital and mobile society, it is also essential that service providers are available to speak to consumers when and where they want, as well as how they want. If service providers truly want to address the issue of churn, they need to start offering their customers a personalised, dynamic and transformative customer experience that will truly match the expectations set by their brand.

Customer Service organisations at CSPs are working very hard to keep pace with changing customer demands and growing competition. However, to succeed, they must address the gaps that exist between their vision and their customers’ reality. Pega is working with service organisations around the world and in many industries to evolve their CRM and deliver against brand promises.

Link to infographic here: https://www.pega.com/broadband-survey?UTM_source=pdcblg

About Pegasystems

Robin Collyer, Pegasystems

Robin Collyer is the Marketing & Decisioning Specialist at Pegasystems

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