Why the GCC's 5G opportunity is wasted without stellar customer service

Once every operator offers 5G, your competitiveness will only be as good as your customer satisfaction rates, says Avaya's Faten Halabi.
Avaya, Business, 5G, Strategy, Tech, Faten Halabi, UAE, United Arab Emirates

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Image: Faten Halabi

2019 appears to be the year that 5G transitions from buzzword to reality and the Middle East looks like the ideal market for this technology.

But according to our latest research, SuperServe: Five Strategies for Superior Customer Service, it would be a mistake to assume that new technology, on its own, is enough to win over Middle Eastern consumers. While our report indicates a hunger for new technologies among Middle Eastern consumers, it also shows a clear demand for excellent customer service.

There’s room for improvement on that front in the Middle East’s telecoms industry. In the UAE, just 5% of consumers believe that their telecoms company most exceeded their expectations in the last 12 months.

In Saudi Arabia, things are a little better, but it was still only 7 percent of consumers who said that their telecoms firm most exceeded their expectations last year. And among that all-important millennial generation, those satisfaction rates stand at just 4%.

Even if you’re first to the market with 5G, your customers may only stay loyal for as long as the technology is fresh. Once every operator offers 5G, your competitiveness will only be as good as your customer satisfaction rates.

At Avaya, we’ve been helping the region’s largest telcos provide incredible customer experiences for decades. And with these points in mind, we’ve devised five strategies that can help regional telcos become ‘SuperServe’ organisations.

Leverage the power of voice

Consumers are interested in using voice-controlled virtual assistants for communicating with businesses; the allure of using a smart speaker for this is particularly compelling – over 60% of UAE consumers would like to use a smart speaker such as an Amazon Echo to access customer service, while 78 percent would like to use voice biometrics to bypass identification and verification questions.

Extend stellar customer service to every channel

In the UAE, 62% of consumers say they find it difficult to switch from one means of communication to another when interacting with businesses. SuperServe organisations will provide the same experience regardless of channel and they’ll provide their customers with a seamless transition between any channel.

Don’t forget about the phone

Nine out of 10 consumers still believe that first-class phone interactions are the best way to speak to someone quickly, with 65% of UAE consumers and 58% of Saudi consumers saying it’s still the easiest way to explain problems. And almost three-quarters of consumers from either country say that they get the best answers to their problems over the phone.

Be predictive

UAE and Saudi consumers are keen to see companies using AI and big data to recognise when, for example, they’re facing difficulties. Over four in five say they like it when organisations notice if they’re having difficulty with a process, and 59% want AI to notify them if there’s a problem with a product or service.

Empower your employees

SuperServe organisations understand that employee engagement and customer engagement are linked. According to our study, nine-in-ten workers say that communication and collaboration could be improved through the implementation of relevant technology, and 84% say that easier ways to share information would be beneficial to customer service.

5G may be the next big opportunity for Middle East telcos. And certainly, in the short term, there will be plenty of consumers willing to pay more for the improved services. But in the long run, investment in superior customer service will likely be even more lucrative than 5G.

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