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Improving the Customer Experience: Profiting From Back-office Support

By Stuart Cochran

Over the last year, the US wireless industry has taken the leap to 3G services as the competitive situation has accelerated the deployment of high-speed data services. The major players have rolled out 3G and are introducing elements of an IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) architecture that will enable them to rapidly develop and launch a broad range of new personalized voice, video, data, and multimedia services.

Unfortunately, many consumers still feel that the wireless industry has completely failed to explain what the new technology can do for them. Some recommendations for how service providers can realize the potential of 3G technologies to enable better, more compelling applications and content, are:

Usability comes before usage
With services and devices becoming more and more complex, the correct retail approach at point of sale also becomes increasingly important. How many customers generate below average revenues because they simply don't understand how to use the services? And how affordable is it for operators to keep re-training retail staff to set-up and demonstrate new services?

First impressions count
Many operators make welcome calls to the new customers that join them. This first impression is very memorable to the customer and, done right, can improve loyalty, as well as providing the first opportunity to gather important feedback and sell new services. Are customer service agents equipped to simply and rapidly provide new services, explain charges or diagnose problems.

Complaints can turn into recommendations

It may sound counter-intuitive, but research has shown that customers who complain, and are dealt with quickly and fairly, are more loyal than those who never complain. Are customer service agents able to determine billing or service provision errors, track progress, and resolve issues? Are they measured to spend the time dealing with complaints properly or simply motivated to deal with as many calls as possible – even if this means offering no resistance to a customer about to leave them?

A service that half works, doesn't work at all

As services become more complex, it is increasingly apparent to the end user that all links in the end-to-end chain need to be working – from content provider through content portal to device, or from corporate application through a gateway to many different data networks (Wi-Fi, GPRS, HSDPA, or 3G). How much customer dissatisfaction and lost revenue is caused by the inability of customer service agents to provision and trouble-shoot services end-to-end?

Improving customer service performance
The migration to 3G brings benefits – greater voice capacity and a platform for wireless multimedia services – as well as challenges due to the increased complexity of the services. The examples above show the impact on customer service performance if the new services are poorly explained and delivered. So, how can operators reliably provide 3G services to overcome these barriers?

The first step is to shorten the time taken to fulfill orders so that customers, no matter what retail channel they are using, can be provided with service almost instantaneously. This is clearly important when customers are holding on the phone, but should also be extended to the point of ...


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