Integrated Customer Service Challenges
2012.10.30   |   43 pages   |   Fixed-Mobile Convergence

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The quality of an operator's customer service provision is one of the main differentiators between MNOs, now that mobile services are largely perceived as commodity products, with little to choose between prices and devices. Good customer service is also essential to help retain customers and as a channel to sell other communications products. But customer service provision is the area that operators often get wrong, and about which their customers complain loudly on social media, on blogs and e-forums, and to industry regulators. That customer-facing organisations should put the customer at the heart of their operations is not in doubt, but the number of MNOs that make their customers feel valued is low.

For most MNOs, whilst recognising the importance of high quality customer service, providing a service that customers value is increasingly difficult. Many operators offer triple-or quad-play converged services that are accessed from different devices. Or they offer only mobile services that are converged with fixed line services from other operators in the digital home, where numerous devices need to be integrated with each other. Consumers access multiple services, fixed and mobile, using many different devices. They expect billing that is clear for services that are easy to use and to be able to access high quality technical help when the need arises. They also expect to be able to contact their service provider via many different channels, depending on their location and device, and to be recognised each time they make contact.

Unfortunately for consumers, the converged services that they receive from their operator are often the product of mergers and takeovers by different communications companies. This means that internal IT systems are often far from integrated, and have not been designed to offer optimal customer service. Offering technical service for devices that are networked with infrastructure or services from other providers can be especially difficult. Combine these problems with the fact that customer service operations are usually outsourced to some degree and tend to be seen as an unwelcome cost rather than a part of the business that can help generate loyalty and profit, and customers often find themselves on the receiving end of an opaque and frustrating experience. Thus increased convergence and integration of services, despite increasing revenues in many areas, also brings issues and problems that an operator has not had to face before. At stake is a company's reputation.

This report provides discussion and examples of the issues faced by operators in the converged communications marketplace, and looks at different options open to them to improve their service. The report concludes with recommendations that should be considered by operators that aspire to provide integrated customer service that will delight their customers.

Keywords: Co-browsing, Online Community Forum, Service Complaints, Social Networking, Convergence, Twitter, Integrated Customer Service, Customer Service Channels, Facebook, Integration, Online Chat, User Forums,

Table of Contents
1 Overview 1
2 Introduction 2
2.1 Background to the Report 2
2.2 Currency and Conversions 3
2.3 Further Questions and Feedback 4
3 Convergence and Integration 5
3.1 Background to Convergence and Integration 5
3.2 The Digital Home 6
3.3 Service Integration 7
3.3.1 Mobistar 8
3.3.2 A1 Telekom Austria 9
3.3.3 AT&T 11
3.3.4 O2 UK 12
3.4 Flexible Bundling and Billing 13
3.4.1 Shared Data Services 15
4 Customer Service Issues 17
4.1 Introduction 17
4.2 Integrated Customer Support 19
4.2.1 O2 UK 21
4.2.2 Vodafone UK 23
4.2.3 AT&T 24
4.2.4 Orange UK 25
4.2.5 Verizon 27
4.3 Customer Service Channels 28
4.3.1 Online Chat 29
4.3.2 Co-browsing 30
4.3.3 Social Networking Sites and User Forums 30
4.3.3.1 Twitter and Facebook 31
4.3.3.2 User Forums 33
4.3.4 Online Community Forums 34
5 Integrated Service Complaints 36
5.1 Introduction 36
5.2 OTT Service Issues 36
5.3 Increases in tariffs 38
5.4 Handset Issues 39
5.5 Speaking to a Real Person 40
6 Key Findings 41
6.1 Conclusions 41
6.2 Recommendations 42
  Appendix - Feedback Questions 44

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