How to empower customers with self-service tools (and why it matters)

Customer experience remains one of the most potent key differentiators for organization in any industry, but many in the telecom space continue to struggle with it. From beginning to end, telcos should optimize their touchpoints to better engage both existing and prospective customers. This comprehensive dedication to the customer journey and experience has not historically been seen in the telecom industry on a large scale.

The silver lining to these circumstances is that it presents a golden opportunity for those organizations that successfully embrace a more user-focused strategy. If telcos could crack the customer experience conundrum, they could give themselves a major advantage over the competition – and it all starts with self-service tools.

Current state of telecom customer satisfaction

There is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to telcos' current customer experience strategies. According to a 2016 American Customer Satisfaction Index report, internet service providers ranked among the lowest-rated industries in this regard. Researchers noted that the lack of competition relative to other markets – especially in certain regions where options are limited – has prevented ISP customers from demanding more.

Telcos can no longer afford to rely on a lack of competition and ignore the customer experience they provide. Markets fluctuate and new entrants could disrupt the status quo in the blink of an eye. Moreover, a renewed dedication to customer service could help curb cord cutting and other initiatives that could cut into telco revenue streams.

The value of self-service tools

Self-service portals can help telcos improve customer experience and strengthen overall engagement. Thanks to the proliferation of digital channels, users today are not only more comfortable having some degree of control over their accounts, they expect this level of agency with their business relationships. According to Zendesk, 75 percent of people view self-service tools in a favorable light, especially as convenient methods for addressing customer service concerns. In addition, two-thirds of customers would prefer to handle an issue via a self-service portal rather than reach out to a representative.

It's up to telecom companies to meet customers on their own terms and provide them the self-service capabilities they desire. By doing so, they can empower their clientele to take a more active role in their account management and improve customer satisfaction levels.

Full-service platforms needed

To really capitalize on this technology, telcos should implement self-service platforms that cover the entire customer experience, from initial outreach to day-to-day account activity.

Pre-sales

Customers and business users alike conduct more individual research today before making initial contact with a sales representative. People will not wait for a pitch to be made – they want to actively gather their own intel first. A pre-sales portal can feed into this demand, providing potential customers with an outlet to put together service packages, request quotes and compare options. It effectively removes obstacles to new sales by making it easier for individuals to receive the information they need before making a decision.

"No self-service portal should be without a customer service module."

Post-sales

After a new customer has been brought into the fold, there are still a lot of finer points to iron out. Service provisioning, for instance, can be handled through a self-service portal, making it a breeze for users to expand their options at a moment's notice. Contract and service-level agreement management will be ongoing concerns, so having those capabilities easily accessible to customers will streamline the process of reviewing account details and verifying that everything is up to date. This feature provides a great deal of transparency, which is always appreciated by users and helps build customer trust.

Customer service

No telco self-service portal should be without a customer service module to improve user interactions and engagement. If an individual needs to reach out regarding a service disruption or other issue, telecom companies need to make that process as streamlined as possible. Updates on current trouble tickets should be readily available, and customers should have access to all account information in a single easy-to-reach location. This includes, among other things, invoices, sales quotes, placed orders and existing service menus.

When implementing a telecom self-service portal, convenience, access and control are all important themes to keep in mind. Telecom customer service tools can be a major asset if they have the breadth of features and capabilities that users demand. To stay ahead of the pack, telecom companies need to present a competitive advantage. A commitment to customer engagement, backed by the most sophisticated platform, is just what telcos need to lead the way.

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