While many telecom operators undergo customer experience transformation engagements, many fail to take into particular focus one specific part of the customer experience – the handset sales cycle. Not only is this area a particularly lucrative one for telecoms, but it also is one that allows for stronger bonding with the customer…
As the importance of handsets to subscribers increases (as the renewal cycle shortens and the variety of brands / models proliferates), the role of the retail channel for an operator in selling mobile phones is becoming more and more important. Whereas the sale of SIMs, recharge cards, and value-added services has been the key revenue area for operators in the past, the handset is the focus of the future – no longer is it about order-taking; it’s about understanding needs, understanding available offerings, and making the right match between subscriber and handset. Telecoms have a particular opportunity here around enhancing the handset acquisition experience in the retail channel.
Improving the handset acquisition customer experience presents a golden opportunity for operators to not only drive up sales of handsets, but also to deepen their relationship with subscribers. As the handset evaluation process can be a difficult one for customers (particularly for those that are less technologically adept), the insight and guidance sales representatives can provide is of the utmost importance in ensuring the acquisition process is optimal in terms of experience.
Moreover, the sales representative – customer engagement during this cycle presents an opportunity for the client to be educated in regards to the capabilities of specific handsets. With developments in technology rapidly changing the things that handsets can do, a significant percentage of customers are under-informed regarding the capabilities of handsets. As such, many have a tendency to revert to older, more classic mobile phones, a natural behavior of steering clear of smart phones.
To improve the overall handset acquisition customer experience cycle in retail channels, we recommend operators ensure the following are in practice:
1. Needs Identification & Alternatives Presentation
a. Asking Golden Questions: Sales representatives need to engage with prospective clients to make sure that they know just exactly what type of handset would best serve the needs of the customer. As such, a limited number of “golden questions” need to be designed and asked as the first step during the acquisition process. Sample golden questions include:
- How much is surfing the Internet with your phone important to you?
- Do you like to take pictures with your phone and share them on social media sites? How important is the quality of the photographs you take?
- Would you like to listen to music from your phone?
- How important is a standard keyboard type layout on a phone important to you?
- Do you prefer as large a screen as possible or is it not that important?
When engaging with customers, of course, staff should be trained on how to present such questions, rather than asking them straight out – there should be a natural discussion around the customer’s needs, with real-life examples provided for reference purposes. Such a discussion would also allow the sales representative to better understand the needs the client may have in terms of the ideal tariff.
b. Bells & Whistles Display: Sales Representatives should highlight some of the interesting and unique features of the handset a given customer is considering purchasing, so as to show its full capabilities. As many customers are unaware of the potential handsets (particularly smart phones) hold within them, such a display can trigger a purchase that normally wouldn’t have happened, due to a low level of awareness. Such displays can also increase the utilization of services down the road for the operator as well (i.e. increased data consumption).
c. Providing Alternatives: Once an assessment is conducted around the customer’s needs, a few handset alternatives (with pros and cons presented) that meet those needs should be provided. The particular strengths of each handset in meeting specific needs, and conversely, their weaknesses should be summarized to ensure the optimal choice is made by the customer.
2. Usage Experience Optimization
a. Trial Usage: Operators should provide customers with a trial usage-period (even if only for a week), to allow them to take a risk on a handset they initially may be reluctant to try. With the right set of policies set around the trial usage (i.e. eligible customer limitations, security deposit, etc.), such a service can help boost the percentage of customers willing to purchase higher-end, seemingly complicated handsets. Trial usage service can also be used as a differentiator against competitors, and convey a sense of trust to the customer base.
b. Device Activation: Sales representatives should go the extra mile and offer customers the option to set up their newly acquired phones. This can include transferring content from the old device to the new one, downloading applications they may want / need, setting up email settings, etc. Ensuring the mobile phone is enabled for optimal utilization is an important step towards ensuring the subscriber is satisfied with their purchase.
c. Handset Expert Service: Both in the contact center and in larger stores, operators should designate experts around categories / brands of handsets (ie. Blackberry expert, Android expert, etc.) These designated experts should know inside out all there is to know in regards to their category / brand handsets, acting as the go-to resource when it comes to questions customers may have. When a handset purchase is made, the contact information of the expert can be provided to the customer, available to answer any questions the customer may have down the road. These experts can even become resources for employees to go to when they have questions as well.
3. Technical Support
a. Handset Replacements: Replacement devices should be provided to customers who bring their phones in for repair purposes, as the operator is the party deemed responsible for the overall experience during this period (even though the manufacturer may be at fault). Operators should look to use this opportunity to provide one level higher handsets to customers, so that they can experience what higher-priced, more advanced handsets are like. Device activation steps should be taken here as well to ensure the optimal experience during the replacement handset usage period.
Given that the fundamental elements are in place, companies could quickly bring these initiatives to life, designing them and conducting pilots in a matter of days. Once each opportunity is tested on pilot groups of customers and retail points, the ones that could be translated into significant returns can be easily deployed across the whole network.
To learn more about customer experience service offerings and how to operationalize the above, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.