As everyone knows, 2020 has been a highly disrupted year. It has affected how businesses operate, how employees work, and how people live their lives. One big trend that has emerged is that people are even more reliant on their internet services than ever.
Whether it’s to work out of the rapidly renovated home office space, or communicate with family and friends through lockdowns and social distancing, the internet has been more critical to the very lifestyles of Australians than ever before.
So that perhaps explains why there has been a jump of 1,500 percent in the number of complaints delivered to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman from people who have been unable to get in touch with their ISP.
With many ISPs, overseas call centers closed and back-office functions were disrupted, which made it very difficult for consumers to get a response when they had an issue that needed to be addressed.
In all, there were 127,000 complaints lodged to the TIO across mobile, internet, and landline services, with the internet being the most complained-about service with 42,800 complaints.
How Some ISPs Excelled
Some ISPs were able to deliver excellent customer service throughout the year and exceed expectations. As the Australian Service Excellence Awards (ASEAs) demonstrated, ISPs were able to deliver some of the leading results across all sectors.
It is often those companies that have a “startup spirit” that find themselves excelling when it comes to customer service.
Challenger brands can’t compete at the scale (and, typically, price) of the largest brands, but this can be turned to advantage; with a smaller customer base, the organization can instead focus on maintaining good relationships with those customers through customer service.
Smaller organizations also benefit from a more flat structure, and contact centers located within Australia, which has helped some navigate through the disruptions of 2020.
That more flat structure has meant that organizations can shift to remote working more rapidly, and continue to maintain the standards of the call center experience for customers.
Strong Lines of Communication
Another key element in successful customer service through 2020 is having strong lines of communication with customers.
Being able to leverage social media in a robust way to both share information, and be instantly contactable is a useful way for an ISP to maintain a strong relationship with its customer base.
Being proactive is important, too – rather than waiting for customers to reach out to you, communicating faults and other issues proactively through those channels is a good way of maintaining a reputation for being active in engaging with the customer base.
It’s also worth noting that the complexity of issues being raised with ISPs is on the increase. It’s no good having a proactive communications team and a well-resourced customer service team if you’re not able to address issues when the customer does get in touch with you.
The internet is becoming a more complex place, both in terms of the devices that use the internet and what people are trying to do with it.
Resolve Technical Issues
In many cases, the customer will assume that the ISP is the one to help them through any technical issues that they might encounter while using the internet.
Being able to address these issues – either by directly solving them or being able to accurately refer the customer to the right place to get a solution – will result in a very positive perception of the ISP.
Finally, it’s important that the ISP has a clearly-defined and acceptable escalation process. One driver to the TIO for many Australians is an ongoing issue that isn’t being moved through the right channels.
When first-level support doesn’t resolve the issue, it’s important that the next time the customer calls they feel like they’re making progress, not having to deal with the same basic support that failed to work the last time.
There’s no doubt that customer service has become more challenging in 2020, for brands across the spectrum. However, it’s still important to put priority and focus on customer service.
As the truism goes – it’s ten times easier to maintain a customer than it is to find a new one – and the customer service standard is heavily responsible for the customer churn rate at any organization.
Customers have a long memory, and as the disruption of this year settles down, they’re going to reward those brands that are able to maintain their focus on customer service through it all.
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Author: Luke Fitzpatrick