Telco retailers need to find the right balance between providing an intimate and personal customer experience while prioritizing operational excellence in-store. Here’s how to get the perfect balance, and a few insights into how appointment scheduling software can help.
Balancing customer intimacy with operational excellence within in-store environments has to date brought about difficulties in trying to retain, maintain and grow market share in the telco market. With similar product and service offerings in each store, mobile operators have grappled with trying to differentiate their service models which typically focus on retention and the lifetime value per customer as opposed to cost and/or product leadership.
Providers typically give the option of being able to purchase mobile phones as a capital upfront cost, whereby the phone is paid for in full at the time of purchase. Customers also have the option of being able to avoid the high capital outlay by having an ongoing operational cost for a one to two-year period, essentially tying the customer into buyer lock-in and not being able to switch networks without having to pay a stealthy fee. Now more than ever, mobile operators and telcos are having to create more personalized experiences in order to retain customers.
How are customers actually benefiting from going into high street stores as opposed to buying online? What are the advantages? Also, how are telco operators coping with the continual OPEX costs of running brick-and-mortar stores when rents continue to increase in the global high streets?
In Porter’s (1983) paper around what is strategy, he stipulates that those with the intent of having a strategy which focuses on the customer, requires vendors within that sector to possess a deep knowledge of the customer and having a clear and transparent view into the business processes associated with that customer. This is as opposed to operational excellence or efficiency which focuses on operations accomplishing cost leadership.
This contrasts strongly with a cost leadership or operational excellence strategy which lends itself to high-volume, transaction-oriented and standardized production that has little need for much differentiation. However, similar value and cost propositions across mobile operators enable consumers to have the buying power, meaning that they are able to demand more for their money and benchmark offerings and personalized experiences against each other. AdWeek suggests that before entering a store, 81% of your customers will have researched online and have a clear idea of what offering they will be looking for and be able to benchmark other providers who have offered them similar propositions. Providers need to make sure that brand experiences are as unique as possible and each customer touchpoint and engagement needs to deliver on customer expectations throughout the lifecycle from pre to post purchase. These experiences need to be consistent across channels from in-store interactions to the point where the telco provider is looking to offer upgrades. Otherwise, why should the customer stay with you if there is a lack of synergy between your communication channels with disparate messaging? Stickiness is key.
Service offering differentiation
Customers may demand a differentiated experience through brick and mortar stores, but they’ll still expect consistency as they hop between the operator’s multiple channels. Information, pricing and support must be consistent regardless of the destination. This will require much tighter integration with marketing and merchandising teams to deliver more consistent messaging and device positioning across all channels. Intelligence regarding customer requirements and expectations should be fed back to retail helping all functions to better segment customers against device branding decisions.
Telecoms.com highlighted that Inventory management must also be better synchronised to support the multi-channel hopping of customers and avoid any misalignment between demand seen in one Channel and stock availability in another. One of the ways in which telcos are helping to enhance the purchasing process is through fundamentally matching customers to knowledgeable staff members who have the knowledge, skills and expertise to advise on what offering will suit their requirements.
Deployment of the right in-store technologies to ensure customer expectations match employee skill-sets
With 26% of customers willing to abandon their purchase due to in-store waiting times, telco retailers have started to try and eradicate this problem through the use of virtual queue and appointment booking systems within their retail estates.
How are staff able to manage the expectations of consumers who are looking for that sought-after attention from an advisor who has the skills, knowledge and expertise to be able to enhance and engage their experience with the brand?
One of the ways telcos have done this in recent times is through appointment booking software. Telco retailers can now manage customers at the point of entry using the Qudini concierge and appointment booking service enabling them to provide accurate data on wait times to meet customer needs. Qudini’s booking app helps providers to be able to manage customers as well as staff, and provide each customer with an accurate serve time calculation based on available resources. When the wait is long, customers can provide their mobile phone number and receive SMS updates about their turn.
Matching staff skill-sets with customer expectations
By implementing in-store technologies such as appointment booking within retail environments, this reduces store walkouts, customer complaints, optimises staff efficiency and enables you as a business to have a holistic overview with regards to operations and time spent per customer, enabling you to boost your revenue and number of devices sold.