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Social customer service emerging as key differentiator for telecoms

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20th Feb 2013
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Telecoms that don’t use social to engage loyal customers or bring customer ideas to market by 2015 risk becoming social customer experience laggards.

That’s according to a new report from Lithium and Telesperience, which surveyed senior representatives from more than 40 communication service providers across the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

According to the findings, a whopping 93% of telecoms companies now connect with customers through public social networks whilst 95% plan to increase their social media budgets this year. And some are succeeding in their strategies to engage customers. Over two thirds (68%) were found to use social to engage loyal customers whilst 83% plan to do so, the figures showed. 

The study disclosed that social support provided the greatest opportunity for telecoms to differentiate on customer experience over the next two years, such as enabling self-service support through social channels, and social commerce.

Nearly half of telecoms providers currently have social support solutions with 64% claiming to do so by 2015 whilst an additional 27% enlist social customers to give purchase advice, the figures showed.

And a clear correlation was shown between robust customer service programs driven by social and demonstrable business results. Telecoms using social to transform the customer experience via an integrated strategy created a huge reduction in support call volume in 2012 whilst firms that enlisted customers to help others and share ideas decreased call center spend by twice the global average over the course of the year, said the report.

However, while broad investment and prioritization of social in the customer experience proved be a global trend, telecoms companies varied widely in terms of the maturity of their strategy, the report showed. 

Teresa Cottam, research director at Telesperienc, said of the findings: “The service providers that succeed tomorrow will be the ones that invest in innovation now. The market moves so quickly that today’s excellent customer experience will be little more than average tomorrow. Using social channels to increase interaction with end-users will help organisations to source new ideas and stay ahead of the curve when it comes to evolving customer expectations.”

Rob Tarkoff, president and CEO at Lithium, added: “The customer experience, built around engaging with your customers on their terms, is something the telecommunications industry has struggled to keep pace with, particularly given the entry of over-the-top players in recent years. However, a haphazard approach to social is no longer acceptable. Social strategies need to deliver the right things – serious results that tie back to core business goals.

“The telecommunications industry is beginning to realize the value of social, but needs to focus on the right metrics in order to be successful. Companies need to move past the pointless hunt for buzz, likes, comments and high fives – and start thinking seriously about ROI. They need to hold social accountable to the same goals and standards that they apply to any other area of business, like reduced costs, greater satisfaction, and increased revenue.”

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