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How telcos can improve the customer experience and retain frontline staff

Written by Marcus Chillery, Regional Director, UK&I, Medallia

Telecommunications brands have always been a beacon for the latest innovation, as they continually look for new and improved ways to serve their customers. This held true when the pandemic began – the industry pivoted quickly to accommodate remote or hybrid working, the gig economy and moving more services to the cloud – and it remains true today.

Customer needs and expectations have also evolved during this time prompting telcos to more effectively balance the needs of the digitally savvy – those looking for highly personalised and seamless digital journeys – with those on the other side of the digital divide.

With the ‘experience’ now a vital component of business continuity and growth, it has never been more important for telcos to understand the voice of the customer and use it to drive operational improvements. And this doesn’t just involve direct feedback, such as a complaint, but also more nuanced ‘experience signals’, like the customer’s tone on the phone and the response time of the agent dealing with the enquiry. This makes the contact centre a goldmine for customer and – as I’m about to explain – employee experience insights.

Customer and employee experience meet in the contact centre

The contact centre is one the most emotionally-charged touch points within a customer’s journey; a place of last resort where customers can vocalise all opinions and feelings – usually around a poor experience. It can be a place of churn, but more often, it offers an opportunity to appease the customer, resulting in enhanced loyalty.

By choosing to focus on the customer experience, telcos can make these contact centre interactions a driver of both customer and employee retention. This is because a well-executed customer listening programme helps telcos uncover valuable insights about both the customer’s state of mind and the quality of the help they receive, which in turn can be used to understand employee attitudes and performance. By analysing customer service interactions on a more granular level, telcos can improve staff wellbeing and training, helping agents self-coach, especially if working remotely.

So, how is this all done?

The power of speech analytics

Rapid speech-to-text transcription technology is one every telco should have in their experience management toolkit. It’s a vital tool for unlocking experience signals that provide a rich understanding of the end-to-end customer journey, improve agent performance and help action positive change.

Voice interactions are inherently more data-rich than text. Factors such as talk time, silence time, overtalk and tone tell a story of customer effort, sentiments and churn risk. These invaluable call metrics can be captured, measured and analysed through high-accuracy transcription.

The ability to analyse voice interactions in real-time can help telcos uncover common call drivers – such as billing issues, troubleshooting or service changes – and empower agents with AI-assisted insight to help resolve these in the first instance. Applying proprietary AI technology during the speech analytics process can reveal personalised and predictive insights that can drive action in the moments that matter most. By fixing the friction points and functionality gaps customers call about, telcos can deflect calls, prevent churn, reduce cost-to-serve and foster brand loyalty.

On the employee experience side, speech analytics can help managers identify the particular pain points agents are not managing well at any given time – for example, by looking at indicators such as long call times or high levels of call-backs – and understand top areas for agent improvement. Transcripts can be further used to determine the language and behaviours that lead to higher conversion rates and see which agents are most successful at leveraging these – who then should be called-upon to coach new employees. This presents a huge opportunity for productivity and will be key to establishing consistency in service delivery.

Act on the voice of the customer today

In the hugely competitive telecommunications sector, only customer-obsessed brands are guaranteed to thrive – those that learn to adapt to their customers’ changing tastes and needs, and are prepared to meet them on the channels of their preference. The contact centre will continue to play a central role in strengthening customer relationships, and today, it can do so in more ways than ever. Using the latest technologies, telcos can unlock hidden dimensions of voice interactions and tap into rich feedback to guide their decision-making.

As the modern working model increasingly accommodates larger workforces working fewer hours, AI-powered speech analytics insights will provide telcos with the ability to design effective employee engagement programmes and deliver consistently exceptional customer experiences.

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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