There’s no question customer service is of utmost importance to today’s consumers. They want the best, and they’re more willing than ever to fight back against companies that simply do not offer service that’s up to snuff.
The telecom industry is one of the industries consumers are targeting with a litany of complaints. Many of the big players, however, deny there’s any problem; in fact, they argue they’re delivering fantastic customer service. Who’s telling the truth?
If you ask anyone in the telecom industry, they’ll be quick to tell you customer service is paramount. In fact, at three large Canadian companies, top brass emphasizes customer experience and how they want to improve their service for customers. They seem keenly aware of just how important it is to listen to consumers and to react and respond to what they want.
Some also seem to put their money where their mouth is, investing in data analysis to make better decisions about how they provide service for their customers.
The Customers’ Lament
Telecom has been a target for consumers, who have had relatively little choice. A handful of large companies have long controlled most of the market. Many of them operate “discount” brands, which appear to offer customers a better deal, but are housed under the same corporate structure and use the same infrastructure to provide service.
Customers are still complaining, despite the telecom giants’ insistence they’re focused on service. Across the internet, you can find numerous stories of poor service and unresolved issues. Consumers regularly swap tales about dealing with one telecom company or another, many of them relating bad experiences.
Clearly, the telecom industry giants and consumers have a very different picture of what’s happening. Telecom companies say they’re focused on delivering the best possible customer experience, while consumers are loudly complaining service is still less than stellar. How can you account for the discrepancy?
The easy answer is the telecom companies are playing a numbers game. Reports suggest customers are interacting with telecom service reps less and less frequently; one company reported a drop of nearly 50 percent in call volume over six years. The telecoms say they’re focused on building better apps and websites to ensure customers can resolve problems without calling in—or without having an issue in the first place.
The Wrong Measuring Sticks
What becomes apparent is these companies are using poor metrics to say they’re improving their service, without actually improving. A drop in call volume might mean customers experience fewer issues—but it could just as easily mean they see calling as a futile effort and simply don’t bother.
Remember: Only one in 26 people actually complain; the others suffer in silence.
Another good indicator these companies aren’t measuring their customer service properly is the fact they’re reporting their average handle times (AHTs). Some of the telecoms reported their AHTs dropped over the last few years, meaning they had shorter calls; their customer service reps spent less time resolving issues.
Why Low AHT Isn’t Good
AHT has been called the worst customer service metric. The reason? It provides misleading information—something the telecoms have clearly fallen for. When your reps spend less time interacting with customers, it’s easy to assume they resolved the problem quickly and easily.
However, a short call could also mean the problem wasn’t resolved; the customer hung up or was told nothing could be done. In short, they were given poor service. Alternatively, a long call doesn’t necessarily mean poor service was provided. In fact, some of the best customer service is provided during long calls as reps take the time to carefully and thoroughly resolve the issue.