is it wise to charge for Customer Care– especially for telcos?

In an interesting article, Tony Poulos mentioned that it may not be wise for operators for charge for Customer Care operations. You can read the article here. The question is, could this be a revenue generator source for the telecom operators?

This being an interesting situation, the following is what I commented (the article has the complete details) :

This is an interesting topic! let me provide my perspective on this–
If you look at it, it is surprising that Customer Care could be a revenue generator option.
If you look at it– for a normal stand point this may not look beneficial for the telcos at all. But I tried to think about it from the perspective of a n-sided business model where the telcos would serve as ‘The Backbone’ for a multitude of offerings that are provided to the subscribers. True that if angry customers call up customer care, and are asked to pay there is a probability of churn– but probably there is also a large set of customers who could be made aware of the latest and greatest of offerings that they could avail of (from the companies who are participants in this n-sided business model) which in turn would help customers get the best in class service offering, aided by guidance from the customer care agent, and also allow the companies make money out of the transactions. In such a scenario, every transaction over the phone that the agent makes (or even speaks and thus advertises) with the customer could be a chargeable event for which the particular company pays the telco a charge similar to ‘advertisement’ charges. If the subscriber agrees to opt for the service after a successful persuasion by the customer care agent, the telco would not only gain from the call charge from the customer, but could potentially gain from the participating firm as a royalty for enabling business development for the company.
In such scenarios, the customer care agent really has to ‘act’ as the person taking “Care” of the customer.
This is not new, Having worked in ‘outsourced’ customer care departments for some other companies (primarily computer and hardware) I have seen customers’ mood swinging from irritated to understanding to finally happy. Some companies like HP even sell through regular customer care agents. (Agents get incentives for successful sales).So a lot actually depends on the ability of the customer care agent. Typically in these scenarios the agent needs to be able to ‘connect’ to the customer– that is a key element.
Similarly for telcos. If we look at a future of telecom consolidation, customer care could possibly one of revenue generating sources. Of course the telco would have to provide support to enable that ‘customers actually get benefits’ out of such service. Else, as you rightly say, churn is big possibility.
Last but not the least, in such scenarios, it is probably advisable to the telcos not to use AHT (Average call handling Time) as a metric of performance for the customer care agent. Typically for the AHT a customer care executive tends to undermine the real need of fulfilling the customers’ needs. Instead of AHT, the metric should always be targeted to estimate the ‘effort spent’ ‘BY’ the ‘customer’ in resolving the issue. This creates a case for creating satisfaction within the customers by lowering the pains of the ‘customer’.

It would be good to see where telecom as a business would land up in the future. An even more interesting phenomenon thus would be to see if ‘business consolidation’ could actually help in a sustainable business, or if it would simply mean that the giants survive while the newbies shrivel.

Do share your thoughts!

This entry was posted in Customer care, Customer Experience Management, telecom. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to is it wise to charge for Customer Care– especially for telcos?

  1. Maverick says:

    The following comments was shared with me by a senior."While it is true that customer service agents in the future can potentially offer a broader set of offerings (especially as it relates to things that telecoms may start (re) selling in the future – home network, consumer electronics, cloud storage and computing etc.), it is a fairly significant transformation somewhat roughly equivalent to what had to do going from selling just books to a destination portal for all things you can buy. As u know, amazon owns a small percentage of what it offers on its portal. It is leveraging its brand and most importantly its relationship with a critical mass of customers (including billing and identity services) to become a virtual mega mall. Converting your agents to do the same is even harder as it involves turning over most of your agents, investing most likely in your own (not outsourced call centers) and helping them become solution advisors (for example DirecTV calls its call center agents entertainment consultants but they only sell DirecTV products). Over time, the n sided business model will surely take roots but is more likely to start in virtual connections and revenue share models that take advantage of the telco's unique understanding of customer data (advertising, couponing, mobile banking etc..) and can manifest it digitally in the customers' overall experience on the web and mobile. Over time, the agents in the physical world could definitely morph into the new breed of consultants who can sell them a wider set of services that they resell (or) get commissioned for. However, I think it may take some time and the situation is also somewhat geography specific as telcos have different legacies and are also perceived differently around the world."-Posted on behalf of My Senior who sent se this comment

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