Customer care agent delivering support while working in a home office

How to streamline telecom customer service in today's remote reality

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about many changes, but how and where we work is undoubtedly one of the most significant.

Before the pandemic, just 23% of U.S. employees with jobs that could mainly be done from home reported working remotely in a Pew Research Center survey. That number topped 70% by October of 2020.

Today, according to the same survey, 59% of workers in the U.S. whose jobs can be done remotely are still working from home most of the time. And even though some workers are returning to the office, not everyone is going back full-time. According to HR consulting firm, Mercer, 70% of companies that have flexible work plans intend to adopt a hybrid work model for the long-term.

In other words, remote work in some capacity is here to stay — and that puts higher demands and expectations on telecommunications providers.

Telecom industry challenges in 2022

While a shift to a work-anywhere lifestyle was a welcome change to some, a slew of unique challenges for the communications and media industry have surfaced.

Early on in the pandemic, telecom companies reported large spikes in network usage as workers and students migrated online. This unprecedented increase in demand caused sluggish internet speeds and unreliable connections.

In the past, Wi-Fi dead zones and service disruptions in a residential network might have been dismissed as minor inconveniences. Now, they act as major roadblocks to remote workers and put sky-high demand on customer service and technical support representatives.

Additionally, technology continues to advance and more and more smart devices are being introduced to the market. Not only do these connected devices put further demand on networks, but they add a new level of complexity when it comes time for technical support agents to troubleshoot with customers.

To ensure telecom customer care agents are equipped to deliver an exceptional experience in this new remote work reality, brands must adopt a two-pronged approach: Understand consumers' evolving needs, and equip their teams with strategies and tools for success.

How the needs of the telecommunications customer have changed

Today, telecom consumers are looking for two main things when it comes to their service provider: Network reliability (in concert with ever-important high speeds) and the ability to easily reach a technical support expert when it matters most.

In fact, a 2021 Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) report says that when it comes to broadband service, reliability is "the single most important characteristic to consumers and definitely more important than speed," with 78% of respondents stating reliability — with few service interruptions — as the most important aspect of broadband. The report also found that satisfaction with customer service hinged on having real people to talk to and reasonable wait times to do so.

The idea of losing internet service in the middle of an online meeting and being unable to reach a customer service agent for help is enough to put any remote worker on edge. To meet this newfound expectation of high performance and accessible customer support, telecom brands can implement best practices to help lighten the load on their agents and provide an unmatched customer experience.

Telecom customer service best practices

Apart from ensuring dependable service, what can companies do to deliver a superior customer experience in telecom? The following strategies can help you streamline your customer experience and adapt to the ongoing hybrid and remote work environment.

Educate consumers. Since access to service is so vital, one way to keep customers happy is by empowering them to help themselves. Implement robust FAQs on your website, and introduce educational articles and videos. The more knowledgeable your customer base, the better equipped consumers will be to resolve minor issues on their own. With a strong self-service platform, you can eliminate the need for customers to jump in a queue.

Leverage technology to provide efficient, "always on" service. Technology like AI-powered chatbots can both reduce agent effort and enable companies to provide 24/7 support. Establishing an omnichannel presence on all major platforms to meet your customers where they are is an excellent way to deliver a consistent experience and sustain meaningful, long-term relationships.

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Encourage empathetic customer support. When service is disrupted for a remote worker and the stress of missing work kicks in, an empathetic customer care team is crucial to smoothing things over. Approaching such queries with empathy and patience can maintain customer satisfaction and affinity with your telecom brand.

Empower agents to take control. Hiring and retaining top talent is critical to delivering a superior customer experience. For telecom companies, having experienced team members can lead to more thorough problem-solving. Support your team by encouraging representatives to take charge, keeping them engaged and providing them with the tools they need to excel.

Find an outsourcing partner to help scale operations and prepare for any future uncertainty. Regardless of the telecom industry challenges that lie ahead, companies should leverage customer service outsourcing and the advantages of an experienced partner. Benefits can include improved channel orchestration, access to advanced analytics, customer experience (CX) benchmarking, intelligent automation and more. If you're looking to scale your CX, enter a new market, or simply tap into specialized customer care expertise, it's time to consider outsourcing.

The right combination of strategies and best practices can provide a top-notch customer experience and have a positive impact on how your brand is perceived. With remote work an ongoing reality, the time to streamline your telecom's customer care strategy is now.

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