50% Of Mobile Consumers Say Operators Aren’t Hitting The Right Buttons

It’s no secret that mobile usage has clearly been established as part of everyday life. In just the past few weeks, Google and Facebook have both stated that the majority of their traffic now comes from mobile, while eMarketer has reported that 40% of online news is now read on a mobile device. So why is it that the latest research on customer care in the mobile space (conducted by Astellia) reveals that almost 50% of mobile subscribers are unhappy with the level of customer service they receive from their mobile operators?

Cedric Arnaud-Battandier, CMO, Astellia

Since enabling communications has been operators’ bread and butter since the 1990s, shouldn’t they be better at communicating with their own customers? Well, the simple fact is that, until recently, mobile network operators have not needed to worry about their customer service levels. As the mobile industry grew, customers were there for the taking and it was quicker and easier, not to mention less expensive, to find a new customer than it was to keep an existing one happy. However, as markets have become saturated, there are no new customers to be won – just tempted away from a competitor. And as voice and data have become commoditised and over-the-top (OTT) communication services such as WhatsApp and Skype have destabilised revenue opportunities, mobile network operators are no longer able to enter into competitive price wars.

Since winning a new customer is now eight times more expensive than retaining a current user, customer experience is gaining new importance – which is good news for consumers. Only 27% of mobile users currently being classified as a “Promoter” of their mobile operator on the Net Promoter Score (NPS), 30% as “Passive” and, worryingly, 43% termed as “Detractors” according to our poll. Clearly operators have a lot to do to catch up with current trends in customer engagment.

In this age of social media and word of mouth recommendation, other household brands are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their approach to customer service. Apple might be the world’s most valuable brand according to Forbes, but it is only nineteenth in the world’s favourite brands, behind Aldi and Amazon in the top spots. The leading operator was Vodafone, way down in 58th position, while Virgin Mobile lies in 73rd and O2 in 80th place. The mobile industry is clearly playing catch up compared to other industries when it comes to customer experience.

Clearly operators have a lot to do to catch up with current trends in customer engagement.

So where does this discrepancy in user experience come from in the mobile space? The key area of dissatisfaction seems to stem from problem solving, response times and contact centre experiences. For example, 66% of mobile subscribers expect a network-related problem to be resolved within 1 hour. This contrasts starkly with findings from the operators themselves, the majority of whom believe their customers will wait up to one day for network problems to be resolved, and a further 26% expecting their customers will wait up to three days. Moreover, two-thirds of mobile customers expect contact centre agents to be able to resolve their issues within six minutes, but more than one-third of those same customers don’t believe that operator representatives have access to the data needed to resolve a network-related problem, such as customer usage, location details, network data, and quality of experience. A recipe for frustration, and one that many people have experienced as they are handed from department to department, having to repeat their problem to a new person each and every time.

Two-thirds of mobile customers expect contact centre agents to be able to resolve their issues within six minutes.

This is a clear call to action for operators to progress towards a more customer-centric model. But this not only requires fresh, innovative tools for use across different teams to create a new level of efficiency, enabling a real-time, holistic view of both the customer and the network and preventing problems before they occur, but also involves internal restructuring. With this comes a significant mind-set shift throughout the entire company, from call centre agents to middle management all the way up to C-suite personnel – so no mean feat.

However, with 43% of mobile operators wanting to achieve an improved customer experience through increased first call resolution rates, and 36% wanting to better their NPS scores, there is a recognition that they need to at least catch up with, if not improve on, customer service norms. And this can only be good news for the customer.

This article was written by Cedric Arnaud-Battandier, CMO of Astellia.

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