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November 20, 2009

Communications firms lack basic customer service skills

Survey reveals poor customer service and retention

By Vinod

Communications companies are doing a woefully poor job of handling and keeping their customers, as ironically they fail to capitalise on technology to improve and coordinate their service.

An Oracle-commissioned survey revealed few bright spots in the way communications service providers (CSPs) deal with customers.

Two-thirds admitted they couldn’t resolve problems with just one call, suggesting poor links between call centres and business applications. Meanwhile, 80% had no mechanism for retaining customers when their contracts were up for renewal. Many of those firms recognised the contracts were coming to an end, but didn’t have the processes in place to try and retain them.

Assuming the average monthly tariff of €20, that means European CSPs are potentially throwing away €46bn a year.

Their poor online service had a number of consequences. More than 80% of customers put the web as their top or second preference for contacting the firms, yet only 13% provided the ability for online chat with agents.

More seriously, only a third of firms were able to personalise their service and make recommendations to customers during a phone call or online query. Too much time was spent dealing with billing requests over the phone, but given the poor online service, few firms were able to successfully divert enquiries to the web.

The survey, conducted by independent research firm Vanson Bourne talked to 46 senior managers at CSPs across Europe and the Middle East together with 3,750 consumers.

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