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How internet providers can ‘fix the bad connection’ in their customer communications

By Duncan Spanner, Managing Director – UK at Quadient:

In the whole of 2019, just 16 percent of UK employees did some work from home. Over the past two years, remote working has understandably soared, and looks set to stay in some capacity for most UK office workers post-pandemic. This rapid and profound shift in working behaviour has been underpinned by connectivity, as we also rely on the internet more than ever to socialise, stay connected to family, and entertain ourselves.

It is therefore perhaps unsurprising that, when asked which essential services are most important, broadband ranks higher among consumers than banking, council services, and even their gas supply. With broadband so vital to peoples’ lives, fixing any service issues quickly and effectively is of course critical. However, while providers are usually quick to roll out engineers to solve connection problems as soon as possible, they don’t always inform customers of issues at the same speed.

Few things are more frustrating than having an important work meeting to attend but being unable to join the Zoom call because your internet is down. From having to reschedule the call to explaining the situation to your boss, it’s a lot of unexpected disruption. Providers must deliver clear updates to help put customers’ worries at ease, with information on when a connectivity issue arises, what they are doing to rectify it and when service is expected to resume. If they do not deliver this customer experience, consumers will simply find another provider that will.

Switch your habits or customers will switch you

The reality is that there’s a disconnect between the level of service users expect from their broadband provider, and what they’re currently receiving. In fact, research from Quadient shows 25 percent of consumers say the quality of customer service is below what is advertised. Solving this should be a key priority for broadband providers, as there’s a serious risk of losing customers if it goes unaddressed.

Ofcom continues to make switching to another broadband provider a simple process, with minimal input or action needed from the customer. As such, the Quadient research shows 67 percent of consumers are either confident they could easily switch broadband provider if they wanted to, or have already done so. It just goes to show that if you don’t listen to what customers want and deliver a stellar customer experience, there really is little to stop them jumping ship to a competitor.

Fixing the connection

The customer relationship should be just as important to broadband providers as fixing connectivity problems. Companies should approach customer communications with a renewed focus on reaching them quickly, consistently and accurately, through the channel that’s most relevant. Ultimately, network or area outages are sometimes unavoidable, but keeping customers well informed goes a long way.

Maintaining trust goes beyond just recognising when customers are unhappy. Providers must take the time to truly understand what the customer would want in a given situation, and work to deliver. For example, if planned engineering works are likely to affect connections, providers should proactively contact customers so they can plan their day accordingly.

Similarly, providers must assess if there are scenarios where customers would rather be given the tools to fix simple issues themselves. For instance, 67 percent of consumers are open to using self-service tools but are not currently being offered them. Ultimately, prioritising the customer relationship successfully comes down to really knowing what the customer wants and needs from you, and proactively delivering it as quickly and efficiently as possible.

A permanent shift

Connectivity is now critical to enable us to live our daily lives; more than three fifths of UK consumers have increased their use of online services during the pandemic, and almost three quarters of workers believe companies must embrace flexible working arrangements long-term. If that comes to pass, broadband will cement its place as an essential service, driving the economy as it powers the UK workforce. In this role, it needs to have both the reliability and the customer experience to match.

When a service is so important, connection issues need to be solved quickly and effectively but customer experience also plays a key role. Broadband providers must offer UK consumers timely and personalised information, proactively delivering any advice or support they may need. Providers that fail to do so will soon find themselves waving goodbye to customers, who will quickly jump ship to competitors offering a better service.

Lisa Baker is Group Editor for the Need to See IT Publishing Group. Lisa writes about HR, Technology, Health, the Environment and Business.
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