Searching for a better customer experience

Shea Silidker/KPMG

Modern consumers are accustomed to engaging with brands whenever and however they want—whether it be online, walking into a physical store, or being served face to-face. Today’s consumers are increasingly well informed, aware of what they want, and quite vocal in sharing their experiences.

In telecoms markets we see that customers continue to have an ‘insatiable’ thirst for mobile data to access over-the-top (OTT) services with a corresponding decline in traditional voice and SMS usage. However, mobile operators are finding that their network coverage, device bundles, and traditional service offerings no longer create compelling value propositions for driving customer loyalty. Delivering an enhanced customer experience has become a priority for forward-thinking telcos.

A recent KPMG global customer experience study covering 29 countries and 124 mobile service providers found that most of the recent improvement in telco customer experience has come in the area of digital channels, particularly via the increased availability and functionality being offered through the mobile app and online touch points. For example, operators were found to be offering increased functionalities and innovation through their mobile app such as by providing configurable alerts to manage data limits and the ability to use the phone’s camera to capture and submit credit card details for payment transactions.

Despite advances in digital touch points, the mobile telecommunications sector still lags in terms of overall customer experience as well as compared to other sectors. The legacy channels of retail stores and call centers have shown minimal improvement and in some areas customer experience has declined. This is the result of operators who reduced their operational costs by pushing customer interaction volume away from these traditional channels and into the lower cost to serve channels.

From a customer personalization perspective, only 4% of the flagship retail stores visited globally were found to utilize a layout that provides differentiated customer treatment for premium customers. And the global average wait-time to speak with an agent has increased as compared to the previous benchmark results.

While most operators let customers access multiple self-service platforms through digital touch points—including social media, operator apps and online accounts—the retail channel often fails to promote these alternative options.

At a regional level, according to the study, Europe had the highest proportion of operators who scored in the top quartile for overall customer satisfaction, which indicates that increasing competition and slowing growth rates in more mature markets drives focus on improving the customer experience. But operators from all regions were represented in both the top and bottom groups in overall customer experience scores. This shows that identifying leading practices in customer experience requires a comprehensive global view.

To increase focus on customer experience and drive actual change requires dedicated effort—and possibly the introduction of the “Chief Customer Experience” Officer or similar position to drive customer experience cross-functionally across the telco organization. Customer experience must be effectively and consistently delivered across all touch points while operators need to balance their investment in customer experience against their desire for direct cost-savings.

Shea Silidker is director at KPMG Management Consulting

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