Walt Disney, a master at building brand loyalty, once offered the following guiding principle: “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”
Providing an excellent customer experience will not only encourage your customers to keep coming back; it will enhance your brand’s reputation. In today’s ultra-competitive communications industry, the decisive factor in brand loyalty and reputation is becoming technical support and customer service – and the providers that excel in these areas are positioned to rule the day.
Exponential technological change has profoundly altered the old customer service models for communications service providers. Traditional product sales models have evolved to become ongoing vendor-buyer relationships where post-product support helps determine future brand loyalty and future revenues. While it may be obvious that strong service builds customer loyalty, the power of high-quality digital home support is startling.
A recent Accenture Global Digital Home Consumer Study shows that approximately two-thirds of consumers switched communications providers during the past year. Globally, customer service -- not price -- was the number one reason. Furthermore, 71 percent of respondents agree that experiencing good customer support makes them more likely to buy from the same company in the future. An additional 58 percent say that it makes them more likely to recommend that company to their friends and family.
These same customers are also willing to pay for and reward good service: 69 percent of respondents are willing to pay for technical phone support, while 62 percent said the same for remote monitoring services. The bottom line is that these findings are no surprise when nearly three quarters of retail technology consumers today say they buy based on service quality.
Achieving High Performance in Service
To help position for high performance and success in serving the digital home, communications service providers must develop strategies for how to build and deliver improved technical support to users. Providers can then determine how best to monetize these services and leverage their unique position in the digital home value chain to create distinctive, long-term relationships with their customers.
Successful providers will identify and develop innovative internal and external processes, technologies and standards to create the distinctive capabilities that serve as the building blocks of high performance. Industry leaders will be able to address the following important questions:
• What do customers value? What is the right mix of price versus quality?
• What should your digital home support service offer?
• How should you price the service?
• How should you deliver it? What is the right mix of onsite versus remote delivery?
• What capabilities do you need in terms of people, processes and technology?
• What channels will drive effective and efficient sales and service?
By improving or replacing home technology support services, a provider can reduce costs through fewer minutes, lower repeat rates and call deflection. Through the use of automated tools and some tasks that can be assigned outside of the company, communications providers may achieve substantial savings. In addition, communications service providers that offer cable, phone and Internet can help increase revenues by driving supplemental monthly fees for premium technology support for customers who are willing to pay for a higher level of support.
Accenture research indicates that the industry failure rate for consumer home technology solutions can be as high as 30 percent. With better service comes higher customer retention and brand loyalty in an industry where negative (or positive) experiences stick with consumers and switching costs for the end customer are relatively low.
A Final Thought
Communications and technology companies have drastically reshaped their attitudes toward services. Instead of regarding services as a drag on bottom-line profitability, providers are now rushing to determine how to transform the consumer experience through their service offerings. The providers who innovate in this area are likely to have customers that will “want to see it again and bring their friends.”
Cathy L. Bradley, Managing Director, Customer Contact Business Process Outsourcing Services, Accenture
 Accenture 2009 Global Consumer Satisfaction Survey, November 2009.