4 Oct 2013

Consumers are willing to spend more money...

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The demand for smartphones in Africa has been rising significantly, so it’s important for African service providers to keep these potentially valuable customers happy, if they wish to increase revenues. Because satisfied smartphone consumers in Africa, and around the world, will spend more money – it’s really that simple.  Eighty-eight percent of smartphone users around the world claim to be willing to pay up to 30 percent more to their service providers, if they are happy with the service, according to a smartphone consumer survey conducted by industry analyst firm Coleman Parkes in June 2013 that included Africa.

“This type of research helps quantify the link between customer loyalty (measured by the Net Promoter Score) and profitable growth,” said Fred Reichheld, founder of Bain & Company’s Loyalty Practice and creator of the Net Promoter Score system of management. “The results provide a clear message to the industry: improve customer service if you want to grow.”

Negative Backlash
Unfortunately, today’s reality is that many service providers rank very low in terms of customer satisfaction and brand loyalty, especially when compared with other industries. Most telecommunications consumers are unwilling to tell their friends that their service provider is great or that they should also become subscribers. This level of dissatisfaction obviously hurts service providers’ bottom line and creates a high level of churn.

And consumers worldwide aren’t keeping their negative experiences to themselves, according to the Coleman Parkes survey. Three-quarters (73 percent) of consumers have complained about their service provider on social media at least six times in the past year.

Consumers mostly used their own Facebook page to complain (45 percent), followed by Twitter (26 percent) and service providers’ Facebook pages (25 percent). But all is not lost… half of all consumers (49 percent) said that because they aren’t satisfied with their current experience, a positive service provider recommendation by friends and family would cause them to switch providers.

Don’t Call It a Comeback
Turning consumers’ frowns upside down will necessarily start with correctly identifying the issues that are most important to consumers. What do consumers consider the top issues that will make them feel more loyal to their service providers?

The survey, which included 2,000 smartphone users, revealed a few interesting facts. The most important factor relates to technical issues, such as network quality, coverage and equipment properly functioning. These are often challenging issues in Africa, especially in the rural areas.

The big “mystery” of billing issues was a very close second place – this includes how clear the bill is, and how big of a surprise consumers will receive at the end of the month. Users hate surprises and many of them have experienced errors in charging and have other reasons for disputes. This of course negatively impacts trust in the service provider, which will be difficult to regain.

The multi-channel factor was also highly ranked, meaning the availability of customer service and consistency across multiple channels. People today prefer to use online channels rather than calling the contact center, but many consumers still resort to calling because they can’t find what they need online, or experience inconsistent treatment online.

This leads to frustrated telecommunications consumers tying up one of service providers’ most expensive customer service resources – call center agents.

The Payoff?
Obviously turning detractors (those who publish negative comments about a brand) into promoters is good for business, but service providers might not understand just how good it is. According to the Coleman Parkes smartphone survey, promoters are three times more loyal than detractors.

Promoters are “very likely” to buy additional services (wireline, cable, broadband, etc.) from their service provider, unlike detractors. Eighty-six percent of promoters commented positively about their service provider to friends and family 9.5 times on average over the last 12 months.

The Solution
Amdocs Proactive Care and Mobile Self Service tools are highly effective loyalty improvers. An earlier survey from last February showed how much customers value proactive measures and self-service, with 84 percent of consumers saying they would be more likely to recommend their service provider if the provider were able to identify and preemptively resolve potential issues affecting them. And 83 percent said they would be more likely to recommend their provider if they were offered easy-to-use and consistent self service via their mobile device.

Greater Understanding
We’ve long known that customer satisfaction is important. But surveys such as the recent one from Coleman Parkes are helping us to understand exactly how important it is.
Written by: Ronit Doran, Marketing Director, Amdocs Customer Management

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