Telcos up self-service investments

Johannesburg, 26 Jul 2012
Read time 2min 50sec

Telcos, globally and locally, are making significant investments in reshaping their Web sites by adding more self-service functionalities.

So says Kevin Meltzer, co-founder of self-service specialist, Consology, who points out that these investments reflect the growing maturity of self-service and Internet uptake in the industry.

According to Meltzer, many telcos around the world are overhauling their Web sites to offer customers more holistic portals that give them a single point of entry into the organisation.

A recent Dimension Data study discovered there is an emerging desire by service providers to improve telephony self-service, and a shift in focus and greater emphasis on improving customer satisfaction - replacing cost reduction as the top-priority consideration for self-service deployments.

However, the report notes that a low level of management information tracking the customer experience of automated services shows there is a clear opportunity for improvement.

Meltzer explains that telcos are overhauling their Web sites because they recognise that service will be a key point of differentiation for their businesses in a market that is becoming increasingly competitive.

They have also realised they have a major opportunity to shift customers away from expensive contact centres towards low-cost electronic channels, he adds.

“In the past, most telecommunications operators ran multiple sites across multiple domains and sub-domains. These Web-based properties were built around the way that telcos structured their own businesses rather than around the needs of the customer. But we are now seeing the leading operators take a more user-centric approach to the way they design their Web and mobile sites.” says Meltzer.

He notes that this coincides with a change in the industry from slicing customers into numerous segments and then serving them across a range of functional and product areas.

For example, he explains, many operators split customers into prepaid and post-paid segments, or voice and data users, distinctions that are becoming less meaningful in a world of technology convergence. They now want to present a single face to the customer rather than servicing the subscriber through silos, he adds.

Telcos are starting to pull together disparate products and services that once resided across multiple sites into customer service portals.

“Whereas self-service portals on telco sites were once purely about account management functions, they increasingly offer far richer functionality. In addition to allowing subscribers to pay their bills and check their account information, they are also increasingly becoming the first stop for service and commerce,” says Meltzer.

He also points out that operators have started to recognise that splintering their e-commerce, service and account management functions simply makes no sense.

Customers want to be able to do everything through one interface rather than needing to visit two or three Web sites, or eventually possibly needing to phone a call centre or visit a store for certain transactions, says Meltzer.

“Integrated and easy-to-use online customer service channels will be central for telco operators that want to be competitive in the markets of tomorrow. They form an advantage in an industry where it will be customer relationships rather than cost or service that drive loyalty and purchasing decisions.”

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