According to Nielsen report the number of smartphone subscribers in the US using mobile internet has grown 45% since 2010 and is rising. Research firm Gartner estimates smartphones sales worldwide increased 58% year on year in 2011. This is putting pressure on telecoms call centres as the initial set up is not that intuitive. Setting up your new phone, transferring the data and contacts say from your old Blackberry to an iPhone could require a lot of interactions and is increasing number of calls telecom providers get.
So how should they deal with those calls. These contacts could be qualified as valuable to the customer but irritant for the company so telecoms are trying to either automate those or turn them into self-service interactions. They provide automated information on the IVR to advise customers what to do as well send leaflets or even video instructions on how to set up their smartphones.
One of the new innovations in the call times handling is by giving the option for customers who call to request a call back and drop the call. Vodafone in the UK became one of the latest companies to introduce it. As call volumes are not equal throughout the day and an average call waiting of 4-5 mins might not represent the true picture of people waiting extremely long times during peak periods. So offering call backs is a win-win situation as agents can use off-peak times to give back a customer call. However our experience shows that many of the promised call backs don’t happen so it is important for telecoms to set up a proper monitoring mechanism to ensure call backs happen.
Yet many of the calls will still go through to an agent. So how do companies deal with the calls coming from their highest paying customers? The rise in smartphone sales and call centre calls led to increased pressure on the agents. One not so wise way to handle those is to ask agents to handle the calls quicker and cut their breaks. However that frustrates them and increases the chances that they will pass on their anger to customers. There is a reason why they say happy employees – happy customers and yet employee engagement is the area customer experience professionals have least control over. Taking breaks is important in these cases as employees come up on a higher morale after the break and can engage more effectively with customers.
One of the telecom providers we recently spoke to as part of a research on best practices in customer experience in the Telecom sector gave us insight of a truly customer centric ways to handle these calls. The penetration of smartphones amongst the subscribers aged 55+ in the US is now more than 25%. Those older people feel embarrassed when the young agents treat them as stupid. So by acknowledging the emotional state of their elderly customers when asked “how do I do X” this telecom’s agents started to say: “well I don’t know how to do that myself, let’s find out together”. From research we know that employee interactions are one of the main drivers of customer engagement and loyalty. Imagine what a difference this approach makes having in mind that most of the prior interactions those customers would have had is with fully automated IVR menus and self-service instruction guides. Register here to learn the Seven Key Ingredients of a Successful Customer Experience Program in Telecoms.
Another best-practice example of handling calls with emotional intelligence comes from one UK-based mortgage which company teaches its reps how to listen for clues to a customer’s personality
type. They quickly assess whether they are talking to a “controller,” a “thinker,” a “feeler,” or
an “entertainer,” and tailor their responses accordingly, offering the customer the balance of detail
and speed appropriate for the personality type diagnosed. This strategy has reduced repeat calls by
a remarkable 40%.
How do you deal with the increased calls coming from smartphone users? We’d love to hear your stories!
|Zhecho Dobrev is a consultant and project manager for Beyond Philosophy. He has worked with a wide array of large corporate companies. Zhecho’s expertise includes customer behaviour analytics, customer loyalty, complaints management and journey mapping. He holds an MBA and Master’s degree in International Relations.
Zhecho Dobrev on Twitter @Zhecho_BeyondP