Digital Service Providers (DSPs) are increasingly focusing their efforts on improving customer experience. Understandably a lot of this effort goes towards measuring and improving the buying and sharing stages of the Customer Lifecycle. From my viewpoint, Usage is arguably the most important for customers because it’s about their experience with the product, yet in this stage, DSPs tend to focus on how any problems are handled. Obviously how (and how often) a DSP interacts with a customer at this time is key, but this means they’re typically starting from a point of weakness; the customer’s dissatisfaction. So, what if there was another way to improve the customer’s usage experience, before they become dissatisfied?
Pre-emptive communication with customers in many industries, especially around planned works, is well known to reduce the need for customers to reach out in anger via some communication channel. This approach doesn’t necessarily speed up resolutions to problems, but it does foster a level of understanding and in some cases forgiveness with the customer. In the past, I worked in the technical support department of a large telecommunications vendor, and regular and informative communication with our customers was an accepted way of diminishing any possible escalation, while we resolved problems. The ongoing communication process fostered a sense of teamwork or probably more appropriate in this case, partnership.
Yet separated network and customer-focused departments – often geographically – can make this pre-emptive communications model complex, or often impossible. The Network (or Service) Operations Centre (NOC), is primarily focused on ensuring network resources are available. Some maturity exist to help DSPs understand how these resources affect the overlying services that the business depends upon, yet very rarely is customer impact truly understood. Generally, the exchange of information between the NOC and Customer Services is limited to a context-free few lines of text digital transmitted from a fault management system to a helpdesk/CRM solution.
To address this, it’s important that DSPs unify data from both network and customer centres into a single (possibly shared) application, with network/service faults directly mapped to affected customers and level of impact. Not only would visibility of problems improve on both sides, but also pre-emptive communications could be initiated directly at the time of detection.
Engaging directly with customers, with informed communications, be they governments, corporate or end customers will lead to a reduction to incoming calls and other communications. This reduction will lead to more efficient use of customer service resources, with staff will be freed up to deal with other issues or better still drive other business initiatives. Furthermore, the additional time allocated to staff for these other tasks will be less constrained, leading to better quality of work produced and potentially happier staff.
By maintaining this communication throughout the resolution process, customers will be able to work around the problem, and particularly in the case of governments and corporate customers, follow any necessary processes to allow for business continuity.
Taking such an open and transparent approach to customer communication can help reduce the chances of customer dissatisfaction and help build a better customer supplier relationship.
Eirteic’s software development company Galileo Software recently demonstrated the benefits of such a customer-centric concept at TMForum! Live 2016 in Nice, France, as part of a Customer Centric Service Assurance catalyst. If you’re interested in talking to us further about how a more customer-focused approach to service assurance could benefit your business and improve your customer experience, please contact us at [email protected].
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