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Industry Research : Aussie Telcos Failing to Fully Exploit Contact Centres
According to research firm Global Reviews, Australian telecommunications companies are failing to make the most of their contact centres as a sales tool, with agents "often serving as reactive order-takers, who pitch the most popular product, without first getting to know the customer."
Global Reviews says: "In a highly competitive and partially commoditised market, companies need to present the customer with a convincing value proposition, in order to deter them from making buying decisions based on price alone. In this sense, it is more important than ever for companies to position themselves as being customer-centric. The power of relationship building should not be underestimated as a tool to convert and retain customers - particularly when there is very little product differentiation."
Since 2000 Global Reviews has been arguing that companies providing a good customer experience will be rewarded with revenue growth and it claims that the its approach has been "proven time and again by the positive conversion and revenue growth that results from our advice."
Global Reviews arrived at its findings by making 350 live sales calls across nine major Australian telecommunications companies and two products – Internet and mobile phone service providers. In each case the caller pretended to be a "warm sales lead" and went through one of 20 predefined scenarios.
Global Reviews then used the results to assess contact centre performance across four criteria: greeting and close, customer focus, active listening, and speech and language. It concluded: "there is very little difference between the top five performing companies – which are just meeting basic expectations of contact centre sales effectiveness best practice."
Overall, Global Reviews said: "[The telecommunications] industry is not delivering an experience to build rapport and ‘wow’ the customer. The fundamental skills required to create positive first and final impressions are lacking. … The industry inconsistently applies active listening skills, which is likely to disengage customers and make them feel as though they’re not valued. The customer focus score is indicative of companies not applying structured and proven techniques to engage with the customer on a personal level."
"Confirming assistance upfront, addressing the customer by name throughout the conversation, and checking that the customer understands the information provided are effective methods of engagement – none of which consistently happen within a telecommunications sales call."
Global Reviews contrasted the telecomms industry with the private health insurance industry, which, it said: "convincingly outperforms other industries due to its ability to apply a structured and proactive sales methodology to inbound phone calls."
The private health insurance industry, according to Global Reviews, "performs well as it successfully incorporates a needs discovery line of questioning into the quote generation process. Having established the customer’s needs, private health insurers are able to provide an insurance policy that clearly satisfies the customer’s situation."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Tuesday, May 21, 2013