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Service excellence back on the customers' top priority list

Updated: Oct 27, 2023

Every year, we at Subtonomy do extensive research into the mobile & broadband market in Sweden – focusing on how customers use the internet and their experience of customer support. Our 2021 survey focused solely on the customer support experience for mobile customers. This year we have broadened the scope to include broadband customers.

Here are some important takeaways from our own research in both the mobile and the broadband markets, but also from independent research by SKI – Svenskt Kvalitets Index (Swedish Quality Index).

Traditionally, customers rely on the Internet to perform everyday tasks such as paying bills, catching up with the news and sending emails. 9 out of 10 also use the internet to keep in touch with friends and for entertainment, with 3 in 10 enjoying online gaming.

The Covid pandemic accelerated one key change: households have become a place of work, as well as a place to live. 54% of households told us that at least one inhabitant now works from home some of the time. In 46% of households at least one inhabitant works from home 2 or more days a week, and in 13% of households, multiple residents work from home more than 2 days a week. Coupled with this, 65% of households are now using videoconferencing applications for work, or to keep in touch with friends and family.

The applications householders are using are increasing the expectations they have for their broadband services, but they are also putting pressure on connections that were not designed to support them. This leads to several frustrating problems for the customers, as well as an increased number of customer support tickets.

Losing Internet access (mobile or broadband) is far more problematic for customers than not being able to make voice calls or text. This reflects the fact that customers are increasingly using VoIP applications to communicate such as WhatsApp, Telegram, Snapchat, Facebook, Messenger and so on.

Assisted support is not customers’ first choice

Previous Subtonomy research has shown that only 10% of customers who have a problem say they’d contact assisted customer support in the first 24 hours. Unfortunately, the true picture is even more disturbing, as in reality fewer than 3% of customers get the support they need – either because they give up when forced to queue or because they don’t even bother to call

due to previous bad experiences. This lack of interaction can lead to silent churn. What’s even worse, recent SKI research shows that the consumers who actually get in contact with customer service are less satisfied than those who never made contact.

Diagram of Telecom Customer Satisfaction broken down by First contact resolution in 2022.
Source: Svenskt Kvalitets Index 2022

Many customers tried to fix their own problems – either by searching for answers on their telco’s website (34%), looking for answers online (31%), using self-help or chatbots (14%) or even watching YouTube videos (6%). Often, these customers used multiple methods or channels to try to fix their problems. Although a third of customers with problems (32%) still preferred to call the contact center, some only did so when other methods had failed to resolve the issue. SKI research has pointed this out as a seriously weak link for telcos.

The youngest age groups currently don’t look to their telco to provide them with the fastest and most accurate answer to their problems preferring to search third-party information, such as looking up solutions on Google or YouTube.

This is a missed opportunity to build loyalty and understand customer experience, and it shows that while the contact center is still seen as a vital support channel, many customers want to be digitally autonomous and self-sufficient.

Previous research revealed that with the right solution in place, as many as 9 out of 10 support issues can be handled through self-care or digital channels. Providing better self-care, digital or automated support is not only much more cost-effective for telcos, but meets the desire of customers to fix their own problems. It also frees up valuable call center resources to concentrate on the most difficult problems, fix novel problems, and support the most vulnerable customers.

Using Subtonomy’s API, telcos can feed their conversational AI chatbots, self-service, apps and other digital channels with the same accurate, transparent and timely data their CSRs receive. The result is that up to 75% of all tech issues can be resolved without the customer having to call the contact center.

Chat’s popularity as a service channel is increasing

There were distinct differences in channel preferences and behavior between the youngest and oldest demographics. Younger customers (those aged 18-39), for example, had a far stronger preference for chat than older customers (40+), with 39% of this younger age group

expressing a desire to use chat compared to only 15% of those over 40. Older customers still prefer to call customer service if something went wrong.

Customers expect a more proactive approach

In line with previous research Subtonomy conducted in 2021, almost all customers (95%) would like to receive timely and accurate texts on planned maintenance or to be kept informed of automatically identified faults in mobile or broadband networks (88%).

Most customers now expect transparency and that their service provider proactively notifies them if there’s a problem that’s likely to affect them. They also expect their service provider to fix more problems automatically and to keep them up-to-date while problems are being fixed. This represents a shift from a purely reactive approach to service assurance — whereby telcos waited for customers to complain before attempting to resolve problems — to a more proactive approach where telcos immediately detect and rectify problems affecting individual customers before they even notice there’s a problem. More than a third of the customers are willing to pay extra for this kind of proactive service.

An opportunity for differentiation from competitors

The ability to offer excellent service and support in non-assisted channels such as chat and self-service are regarded as vital by telcos in order to differentiate themselves from their rivals, meet customer needs and optimize the monetization of services. SKI research shows that the demands have increased significantly during the Covid pandemic, and this will continue.

Subtonomy enables all telcos are able to provide convergent, proactive and automated technical customer support that enables 9 out of 10 problems to be handled automatically or through digital channels – freeing up vital call center resources for the most complex problems and reducing the pressure on call center agents.


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