Industry leaders are well aware that telecom companies routinely receive poor marks and feedback from customers about service and experience. In EY’s Global Telecommunications Study, 82% of telecom companies cited Customer Experience Management as a top priority for the next three years. This should be no surprise when Temkin’s 2016 Customer Experience Insights study indicates that telecom companies fall in the “poor” or “very poor range” of the ratings. The impact can be seen in lost revenue, retention and brand image.

The great irony is that the communications companies fail to communicate properly, both internally with employees and externally with their customers. Further, they seem unprepared when the customers share their dissatisfaction via the very media they provide. These are correctable problems, yet companies continue to make the same mistakes with customers.

Case Study: CX Lessons from a Poorly-Executed Telecom Expansion

A good start:

• A leading S&P 500 telecom company planned sizable expansion (acquisition) into a new geographic market.

• Nearly a year prior to the planned transition for customers, the telecom company did an outstanding job of publicizing and explaining the acquisition via local press. They vowed to uphold the high level of service and commitment to the community.

• Wisely they did similar, active outreach with the employees in the state to assure them of job security and positive changes they could expect with the acquisition.

Turned from good to bad:

• A multi-media ad campaign prior to the switch reiterated the commitment to existing customers and solicited new ones.

• However, direct, useful communication with the customers declined and was virtually non-existent as the transition date approached. Customers did not receive any communication just prior to the date about what they could expect with their new service and were not given a timeline of events.

Declined from bad to worse:
• On the day of transition, many systems failed or were overloaded, which made service failures for customers the norm and not the exception.

• Out-of-state customer service call centers were not equipped to handle the influx of calls about the pervasive service outages and problems.

• Existing employees were not given sufficient knowledge of new procedures and equipment which caused delays.

• The dispatching of repair crews was poorly and inefficiently handled by out-of-state dispatchers.

• The volume of the work and lack of communication with employees and customers delayed restoration of service across the affected geographic area.

Cost of a poorly executed plan:

• Frustration rapidly grew among customers and social media was flooded with negative comments.

• The company did not respond via those channels. (But the now disingenuous ad campaign continued which only made the company seem out of touch.)

• Credits were issued as an attempt to assuage customers, but negative public commentary and press coverage continued.

• For months following the transition many customers also experienced billing issues such as incorrect invoices and auto-billing system failures. More credits were commonly issued as a remedy.

Summary of the ironic communication & process problems:
• Poor communication within the company hindered service restoration. This also causes undue stress and mistrust for their new potential “front line” brand ambassadors, their employees.

• Misleading communication with the consumers fueled outrage.

• Failed communication was common when already disgruntled customers had to reach out multiple times to resolve their problems.

• The complete absence of communication increased negative images of the brand when the company did not respond in social media.

• Business process failures throughout created only negative impressions for the new customers.

Ironies and lessons to be learned to avoid repeating this scenario:

Telecom companies have every conceivable advantage with their own infrastructure to communicate efficiently, fully and frequently, throughout the process. A good start is not enough to satisfy and retain customers. Today’s customers are savvy and educated, with high expectations from service providers.

Telecoms should not surprised, or ignorant, to the consequences when they dismiss the power and reach consumers have — or the fact that their customers are eager to use the very communication vehicles they provide!

By creating and cultivating relationships in a two-way dialog, across all channels companies can quickly create positive brand ambassadors and drive loyalty, even during an acquisition.

A successful strategic plan must include strong, ongoing communication with employees as well as customers.

Communication breakdown with tin can having a disconnected cable

image credit: BigStock Photo

Originally published in Global Business North America