The telecommunications industry is a long and storied business vertical known that is unlike many others. The telecom industry includes telephone, cable, and internet companies. With the emergence of new technologies – like 5G – the telecom industry is now super competitive.
What separates the best telecom companies from those that underperform?
This is a complicated question and is dependent on many factors. One clear indicator of future business performance is the quality of customer service. With that, we’re excited to announce the launch of our new Customer Service Benchmark Report, following the success of our inaugural report on the retail industry. In this edition, we analyze the email customer support of the world’s largest 1,000 telecom companies.
For telecom companies, providing a positive customer experience is more important now than ever before as it is tied directly to customer retention. Telecom companies are universally regarded as the same with little differentiation in service, quality or price. Customer service is a fruitful area in which to differentiate.
Modern customers expect quick, effortless resolutions on their channel of choice. Email remains the preferred digital channel for support.
So we set out to see the availability and quality of email support from telecom companies. Our study revealed that telecom operators are failing when it comes to providing email support.
Telecommunication Industry Trends
Here are 10 key findings in the telecommunications space:
- Only 53% of telecom companies provide an easily accessible email address.
- 65% of telecom companies did not respond to a simple question about their plan options.
- The average score for the Support Performance Index (SPI), which measures personalization, empathy, answer quality and responsiveness, is 49.1, with 60% scoring within the 25-50 point range out of 100 total points.
- Out of companies that replied to emails, 46% responded in less than 6 hours. However, when it comes to answer quality, the companies that respond in 6-12 hours are 2X more likely to provide a more meaningful and complete response.
- Even when telecommunications respond, 55% provide a poor quality response as compared to only 19% that provided exceptional responses and achieved an Answer Quality Index of 100, the perfect score.
- Almost 45% of telecom companies fully personalized their response to customer emails.
- Out of the telecom companies that responded to an email, 94% did not send surveys to gauge customer satisfaction (CSAT).
- Only 4% of the telecom companies in our study showed empathy by acknowledging the customer’s personal struggle around COVID-19.
- Telecom companies in the Asia-Pacific region outperformed the companies in other regions with an average SPI of 58.9. North American companies came in second, but were 10 points behind APAC.
- Telecom companies that used Zendesk were 1.3X faster than average to respond.
Our Customer Service Benchmark Report Says Telecom Email Support is Largely Unavailable
Email customer support offers many benefits that people expect when they have to contact a company for customer service: it’s convenient because the entire interaction is on the customer’s terms; it’s readily available across all of our devices; and there is a record of the conversation that can be referenced at any time.
We found, though, that only 53% of telecom companies provide an easily accessible email address. And of the companies that have email addresses, emails are completely ignored 65% of the time. At a time when customer expectations for customer support are higher than ever, only 28% of telecom companies respond to a straightforward question from a potential new customer.
A 360-degree analysis of telecom customer support emails reveals large disparity
We created two groundbreaking new support measurement indexes. First, our Support Performance Index (SPI) measures the overall support received analyzing personalization, responsiveness, empathy and thoroughness. We found that approximately 60% of companies scored in the 25-50 point range for SPI (out of 100), and the average SPI ranking is 49.1.
Companies sacrifice answer quality for speed
Our second proprietary index is our Answer Quality Index (AQI) which measures the usefulness and thoroughness of the response. We found what while nearly 1 in every 5 telecoms gave exceptional responses and reached an Answer Quality Index between 81-100 points, the majority of telecoms (55%) scored below 20.
We also found that the companies that prioritized response time, often sacrificed the quality of the answer. Companies that responded in less than 6 hours almost doubled the fastest responders when it comes to the quality of the answer provided.
57% of telecoms that respond to emails do so within 12 hours
Telecom communications companies that leverage email as a support channel respond Three in four companies that prioritize email as a support channel respond within the first day: 46% respond within 6 hours and 57% respond within 12 hours.
There is a difference in weekend and weekday response times, however. Customers are waiting 2.4X longer on the weekend, with an average weekend response time of 27 hours, compared to just 11 hours during the week.
Telecom companies are rarely empathic
We conducted our study in the height of COVID-19 pandemic and looked to see the rate at which companies would show empathy to a customer who mentioned that she was unusually stressed during the outbreak. Our research revealed that only 4% of companies showed empathy by acknowledging the customer’s personal struggle.
APAC telecoms provide the highest quality resolutions, North America is the fastest
Telecom companies in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region outperformed companies in other regions with an average Support Performance Index (SPI) of 58.9 (out of 100). North American companies trailed APAC by 10 points, on average. Interestingly, despite having the highest response rate (34%), telecom companies in the Middle East & Africa scored 42.9, the lowest average SPI.
When we looked at response time, there were even more disparities between regions. North American telecom companies responded, on average, in 10 hours and achieved the fastest response time across all regions. APAC companies came in second, responding in 17 hours, while Europe lagged behind all regions with an average response time of 35 hours.
Telecom companies provide better support if they use Zendesk or Salesforce
Telecoms that use Zendesk and Salesforce outperformed other companies. On the Support Performance Index, Zendesk and Salesforce users performed, on average, 56 while non-agent desk users scored 46. On the Answer Quality Score, Zendesk users came in at 43, Salesforce users at 35 and non-agent desk users at 32.
We also found that telecom companies that used Zendesk are 1.3X faster in their response time than average and Salesforce users are 1.2X faster than average.
With the cost of switching to another telecom provider lower than ever, and more competition breaking into the market, it’s important that global telecom providers prioritize the customer experience to reduce churn and drive long-term loyalty.
The telecommunications industry is changing rapidly. There are new telecom companies beginning to take market share, which is making the telco space more competitive than ever. New trends favoring customer service have emerged.
Telecom companies need to start differentiating on CX to become the best. To learn more about the state of telecom email support, download your copy of our Telecom Customer Service Benchmark Report here.