Watching customer service

Customer services need to be monitorised to know what operators should offer
Operators in the Middle East and Africa are deploying different solutions to guarantee the quality of the services offered to their customers.
Operators in the Middle East and Africa are deploying different solutions to guarantee the quality of the services offered to their customers.

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Operators should improve their network coverage and quality, offer better deals on devices, as well as competitive tariff plans and bundles to enhance their customer relationship, according to analysts.

“The key is that the operator should focus on one aspect at a time, especially between deals on devices or tariff plans to reduce the churn. Network quality is a table-stake to be competitive, and improving quality/speeds (through 4G for example) could help uplifting ARPU,” Abdulrahman Addas, partner at Bain & Company said to CommsMEA.

Luke Longney, head of consumer marketing at Vodafone Qatar, said that previously it was focused on tactical offers. However, nowadays, operators treat their customers under a Lifecycle Management Framework (LCM).

“LCM principle is all about centralised, holistic and continuous management of the customer relationship, instead of ad-hoc SMS or Calling bursts. The first step in this direction is segmenting the market in a way that produces distinct homogenous segments and after understanding the deeper insights for each, an LCM in developed for each customer segment. All other variables, like customer value or churn risk, are governed by the overall LCM. The second step is to manage the customer relationship via a suitable platform that interfaces with DWH (data warehouse), CRM and all customer interfacing channels,” Longney explained to CommsMEA.

In order to launch what the customer needs, operators are looking for the right plan for consumers and enterprises. Telcos need to maintain their old plans customer service with the new plans that get into the market.

“Customer trends and competitive activity inevitably change the plans best suited for the market. In order to reduce complexity in our offering to customers it is important that we remove plans as we add new plans to our portfolio. We consistently promote our new products to our existing customer base to ensure they are aware of new options should they want to change their plan. In the future where the customer base on certain plans become very low we may look to actively move customers onto a more current plan in our portfolio that offers equivalent or better value,” said Longney.

Addas believes that it is “extremely” important to ensure that the customer does not feel degradation of the service quality, leading to churn. He also said that operators should encourage customers to migrate to new plans or service offerings.

“We always make sure to upgrade old plans, and we are always looking for ways in which we can provide our subscribers with more benefits in addition to our loyalty program, so that they will feel motivated to remain with Umniah in the future,” said Omar Al Omoush, director of marketing at Umniah.

The cost of this service watch for operators may vary depending on the service.

“It could be cost neutral for some cases. However, it would be more expensive if the operator is using legacy technology,” Addas said.

Longney highlighted the importance of standardised service features across new and old plans offered by operators.

“At Vodafone Qatar, we manage a set of standard internal information and automated testing procedures to ensure that as changes are deployed into our systems, current and legacy plan integrity remains intact,” he added.

Operators can face different scenarios when trying to improve their customer relationships.

“One of the greatest challenges encountered when improving CRM performance is the complications encountered during systems upgrades, when there may be delays in serving customers. Introducing a new system also includes retraining Umniah employees, which requires extra resources and may temporarily result in some difficulties and confusion, which customers may find frustrating, even though we strive to resolve these difficulties as quickly and efficiently as possible,” commented Raed Rasheed, director of distribution and Customer Care at Umniah.

“The challenge for operators is to try and use the data available to them at all their touch points such as website and store front. Operators are starting to gain detailed information on their customers’ preferences and behaviours which means that the challenges relate to how to use this data in the most effective way,” Longney explained.

Quality of customer data is one of the most significant factors of realising the full benefits of a CRM solution implementation, irrespective of the vendor, according to Addas.

“The growth of self-care and authentication will significantly improve the overall customer experience, following examples similar to airlines booking, paying and issuing boarding pass. Operators can always offer back-channels for additional support using Call Centres or Live Chats, “he added.

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