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  March 28th, 2024 | Written by

Telecom Retailers Can Improve Customer Experience By Embracing Integrated Solutions

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Customer expectations from retail experiences have changed drastically in the past few years. Retailers are now expected to offer a seamless omnichannel experience, quick device activation times, and personalized experiences to their customers. It is not surprising that telecom retailers have struggled in the face of these significant changes, with legacy systems unable to keep up–sometimes leading to poor customer experiences. 

There is no doubt that customer loyalty and advocacy are crucial to ensuring competitiveness in the telecom retail industry. 60% of consumers will become advocates for a brand they are loyal to. But securing advocacy isn’t an easy task. It takes at least five purchases to earn customer loyalty, yet 32% of consumers will walk away from a brand they’ve otherwise loved after just one bad experience.

Telecom retailers simply do not have the luxury of waiting for systems to improve. They need to proactively build customer engagement strategies now.

Here are a few ways telecom retailers can deliver great experiences to customers by adopting integrated solutions and emerging AI technologies.

Create consistent, seamless omnichannel experiences

The retail industry has changed massively in the last decade. Customers have gone from buying primarily in-store to making purchases across a multitude of channels, including online via ecommerce sites, as well as starting their journey on social media. Gen Z, as true digital natives, are extremely comfortable with mobile shopping, and this trend will continue for Gen Alpha, as well. However, in-store shopping isn’t going anywhere, either.

Businesses that embrace the omnichannel trend see a 13.5% growth, which is why positive omnichannel experiences that directly address customer pain points are a necessity. Retail operators must implement policies and systems that reduce inconveniences, and facilitate efficient interactions between customers and brands.

Additionally, the popularity of buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) has been growing, and retailers need to optimize their systems to ensure that customers have a seamless online-to-in-person experience.

Telecom retailers can incorporate software that integrates point-of-sales solutions with ecommerce and mcommerce platforms, ensuring customers can interact with retailers across multiple platforms, from physical stores to mobile apps. A unified omnichannel sales process will enable telecom retailers to deliver frictionless customer experiences wherever customers are.

Build trust with your customers

There is a direct link between the pandemic and customer trust, with 63% of customers surveyed saying their expectations for purchasing products have altered. Customers now expect brands to listen to them, communicate more regularly, preferably after the very first sale, and provide innovative options for making products more affordable.

But trust between customers and brands has been on shaky ground recently–only 50% of consumers surveyed feel they can trust brands. The percentage is even smaller for Gen Z, at only 28%. 

One of the best ways to build trust is through good customer service. According to Brian Higgins, Chief Customer Experience Officer at Verizon, 75% of the customer service calls they receive are due to small, annoying issues that disrupt the customer experience, rather than massive problems. Studies have shown that great customer experiences can increase a customer’s trust in their brand, leading to multiple purchases. This is yet another reason to improve systems for customer interactions.

Integrated software solutions can be adapted for different retailers to provide consumers with more positive point-of-sale experiences, in turn, building trust between customers and brands.

Personalize experiences for your customer’s needs

Which brings us to customer data: how to collect it, how to analyze it, and how to use it. Customer insights aren’t just a nice-to-have; they are a must-have for retail operators to stay on top of customer requirements and build customer loyalty. Especially since 81% of customers want relationships with their favorite brands.

Additionally, business to consumer experiences are no longer one-to-many. About 70% of customers now expect a one-to-one approach, no matter how many channels and touchpoints they cycle through. Telecom retailers have to change the way they engage with customers, treating them not as a group, but as many individuals.

There are numerous ways for telecom retailers to collect data to create personalized experiences: feedback forms, customer interviews, observations by salespeople, and of course, purchase history. But data is useless if it isn’t analyzed to generate insights.

Telecom retailers can have a wealth of data about their customers and their purchasing behavior. But processing this data to offer customized 1:1 promotion options is another matter.

AI tools have made it much easier to process large amounts of data and even to draw conclusions. Verizon is currently using AI to sort through historic customer information and empower service representatives to deliver more personalized experiences.

AI can do a lot of data processing in the background without any involvement from employees, or anyone realizing it’s happening. For example, a store associate could be showing a customer various device options while AI is doing the research in the background. By the time the customer has decided on a device, the associate will have rate plans, promotions, and add-on options at their fingertips.

Reduce customer waiting times

One of the most precious commodities for customers is time. Retail operators cannot afford to waste a customer’s time or they will risk losing that customer. Queueing for retail purchases is three times more common than in other industries, and 82% of customers avoid brands because of lines. In particular, the device activation journey has been notoriously difficult for customers, often taking between 45-60 minutes to complete. That is an inordinate amount of time for a customer to wait.

Integrated systems are the key to reducing queues in-store and improving customer purchase experiences. Using interconnected technologies, sales representatives can access customer data, product information, and carrier rate plans faster, enabling them to communicate with customers more effectively. This, in turn, ensures that salespeople are better able to process purchases and smoothen the device activation process.

Customers are reaching brands from multiple channels, and this presents exciting growth opportunities for telecom retailers. However, businesses must also react to the shifting needs of customers to ensure retention and loyalty. A multi-pronged approach using today’s interconnected commerce systems and evolving AI technologies is beginning to improve customer experiences and satisfaction. Technology is only going to get better–if telecom retail operators can adapt to the improvements, they will see positive results.

About the Author

Stacy Hamer is the Chief Operating Officer at iQmetrix, North America’s only provider of Interconnected Commerce solutions for telecom. Stacy has been with iQmetrix since 2002, handling everything from account management to enterprise consulting. More recently, Stacy headed Client Experience and, in 2022, she stepped up to lead the company’s operations.