Driving higher margins with premium technology support

Two forces today are reshaping the telecoms landscape: the proliferation of connected devices and the elevated expectations of consumers for richer customer experiences. In order to remain competitive and overcome the challenges these forces have created, organizations need to adopt a technology services business model that supports the increasing demands from consumers, improves customer experience and retention and continues to drive bottom-line growth for businesses.

Two forces today are reshaping the telecoms landscape: the proliferation of connected devices and the elevated expectations of consumers for richer customer experiences. In order to remain competitive and overcome the challenges these forces have created, organizations need to adopt a technology services business model that supports the increasing demands from consumers, improves customer experience and retention and continues to drive bottom-line growth for businesses.

According to industry analyst firm IDC, nearly 1 billion connected computing devices were shipped in 2011—a number that is expected to double by 2016. With such diversity and volume of devices, telecoms providers are facing a sharp increase in out-of-scope support requests from consumers, forcing them to service multiple devices and platforms that are all separate from their primary business. The issue of out-of-scope support calls has grown into a sizeable cost in terms of time, and, in some cases, lost customers.

Through no fault of their own, consumers are frustrated by downtime and a difficult support process but do not know where to turn. With 20–40% of all calls coming into a contact center being classified as out-of-scope requests, it is clear that premium technology support must be taken seriously to maintain the overall health of the business. Businesses around the world have the opportunity to provide customer service, even for goods they do not sell, for a profit.

Unfortunately, the issue of unrelated touch points by consumers is one that is shared by the retail and device manufacturing industries as well, due in large part to the rise of the connected home, where lines have blurred drastically between the three. Devices and services have become so interconnected, and in many cases interdependent, that consumers do not know whom to contact when they have a problem. Often, the burden falls on the service provider to fix connectivity problems, whether or not they are familiar with the devices.

TRANSFORMATION STARTS AT THE TOP

Change needs to happen at the executive level where the decision makers are able to evaluate the business and shift operations toward higher-margin opportunities, such as premium technology support. In order to do this, three things are needed: proper technology, proper talent and a willingness to transform the business. One top service provider has implemented a successful premium technology support program that has helped it to reduce out-of-scope calls by 50%. Premium technology support brings the pieces together, both literally and figuratively. A purpose-built technology platform supports services that can integrate and correlate customer data from multiple sources, allowing support professionals to not only resolve issues more effectively but also take advantage of opportunities to up-sell or cross-sell additional products to customers.

These platforms have already emerged, and, as executives evaluate their needs in this regard, three things in particular stand out as deciding factors. Is the platform purpose-built, is it open and can it facilitate programs that support multiple services and channels while delivering an integrated user experience?

First, is it purpose built? What is its primary purpose and will it meet the strategic growth objectives? Was the technology built to deliver market-leading remote technical premium support? Whether paid or free, premium support through a purpose-built technology can provide superior customer service and work toward a standard of first-call resolutions. Operators need to have the ability to script and fix problems in a repeatable manner so that they can quickly resolve the customer problem and deliver low re-open rates.

Second, is it open? Future plans for integrating services must be taken into account, and, without an open and flexible platform, additional resources and capital expenditures will be required to either integrate the program into the current platform or build around it. With an open platform, telecoms companies can add features and functionalities and expand the network of partners, allowing for future integration of systems to provide more robust and easily accessible information. With the evolving technology landscape, new devices and services are constantly hitting the market, making an open infrastructure critical to the bottom line.

Lastly, can the platform facilitate programs that support multiple services and channels, all while delivering an integrated user experience? Businesses typically launch a series of disparate support services. Without the ability to see customers in high definition and know every related piece of information about them, the overall effectiveness of the technology and, ultimately, the customer experience, is diminished. The right technology brings premium support and all of the different support programs into a single location—providing a comprehensive view of the customer. One telecoms provider implementing this tactic obtained customer satisfaction scores of more than 90%, with agents able to quickly resolve the problems, giving customers their time back.

Meeting this last criterion is critically important for the telecoms industry, where customers have historically been transferred from one line to another and forced to repeat their story every time they are connected to a new agent. With the right premium support technology, the frustration is eliminated because the agent has already identified the customer, and is able to see his or her records and history. If the analysts from Frost & Sullivan are accurate in predicting that the number of wireless connections globally will reach 97.5 for every 100 people by 2016, it seems that soon there will be very little an agent will not know about a consumer’s needs.

The reality is that consumers are currently overwhelmed and underserved by technology, and there are significant costs associated with managing customer dissatisfaction and providing out-of-scope calls. Operators have an opportunity to offer premium technology support solutions to their advantage, to differentiate their brand and deliver a superior customer experience.

Through premium technology support programs, operators have the opportunity to become the trusted advisors for consumers seeking technical advice across services and devices. As that central point, they are in a strong position to capture a full view of the customer, but this must be supported by the right technology, providing an integrated customer experience to increase loyalty, retention and, ultimately, drive higher margins for the business.