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Why silence isn’t golden in customer support

Updated: Oct 27, 2023

- it’s actually a big red flag

Woman hushing with her index finger

CSPs often work from a presumption that the fewer calls they’re getting from their customers, the better. Fredrik Edwall explains why lack of customer interaction is a big problem for CSPs looking to build profitable 5G businesses.

CSPs have traditionally viewed customer support purely as an operational cost, believing that their goal should be to minimize interactions in order to reduce costs. Silence is viewed as golden, because conversations cost money.

This mindset means that CSPs are often oblivious to the extent of their support problems. They believe their support services are performing well, because that’s what their KPIs are telling them. From their own perspective – which is driven by their wish to reduce support costs - this might very well be true. But the question is whether it’s also true from the customer’s point of view.

In fact, customers usually have a vastly different perspective to support than their CSPs. They’re often painfully aware that their CSPs don’t want to interact with them, which immediately impacts on the customer relationship, and they know that if they do need to call support, it’s likely to be a frustrating experience.

Just how big a problem this is was revealed by recent Subtonomy research which found that only 10% of customers say they’d contact customer support in the first 24 hours after they experienced a technical problem. Unfortunately, the true picture is even more disturbing.

In reality, as few as 1-3% 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.

But surely if they’re not calling there isn’t a problem? In fact, it’s a huge problem that’s set to become even more acute with the roll out of more complex 5G services and due to rising customer expectations.

3 reasons why silence isn’t golden

When customers don’t interact with their CSPs the result is a range of negative outcomes.

  1. Customers that don’t call are already disengaged and far more likely to churn. CSPs are blindsided by these silent churners and don’t have chance to fix the situation before the relationship irretrievably breaks down. This means either they lose the customer unexpectedly and incur the cost of replacing them, or they’re forced to invest heavily in retaining them. Silencing customers is a false economy.

  2. 5G means that customers need more support, not less. Unless they feel confident that CSPs will support their evolving needs they’re going to be less willing to try new products and offers, undermining the entire value of the 5G proposition and slowing time-to-revenue.

  3. CSPs are losing out on valuable insight that would help them understand customers better, improve their support, and provide valuable data to feed AI-driven automated support (such as bots).

What CSPs can do to make silence truly golden

Currently, silence is a big red flag that CSPs are not supporting or engaging their customers. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Using the right approach, it’s possible to increase customer interactions, provide better support and simultaneously lower costs.

So how can CSPs do this?

A combination of data-driven and personalized tech support, more efficient CSR tools, improved technical self-service and increased automation can transform customer support from an overhead into an investment.

For example, one Subtonomy customer saw a 300% increase in digital engagements when they implemented our Technical Self-Service tool. More interactions meant more data points that could feed the CSP’s knowledge of both their customers and known problems. This, in turn, allowed more personalized technical support – boosting first call resolution by 60% and reducing time-to-resolve by 47% - and more precise automation. The result was a virtuous circle of happier customers at a lower cost to serve.

Efficient technical customer support is essential for 5G success

5G should not only transform our approach to networks, it should also transform our approach to supporting our customers. The added complexity of 5G combined with increasing customer expectations mean that if CSPs continuing trying to support 5G customers like they did 2G customers they will face a tsunami of inquiries they can’t handle, a massive increase in operational costs and a disastrous impact on customer satisfaction and churn. Legacy technical customer support is the weakest link in the 5G chain. Without investment it won’t be fit for purpose, undermining all the effort CSPs have put into rolling out 5G networks and dreaming up appealing new 5G use cases and business models.

Taking the right approach to technical customer support, however, will not only deliver a perceptible improvement in support from the customers’ point of view – aligning it to CSPs’ premium network proposition - but will also lay the foundation for future 5G success.

5 ways Subtonomy can address the challenge of silent customers

  1. More engagement. Increased digital interactions build engagement and trust as well as boost customer satisfaction.

  2. Digital autonomy. Customers have the tools to solve their own problems in their channel of choices.

  3. Real-time, omni-channel support. Accurate, up-to-date data shared across all support channels empowers effective, omni-channel care and data-driven self-care.


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