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Perspectives

Simplicity: Your Secret Weapon to Keep Customers and Drive Sales (Part 1)

2017-07-19


Busy customers will reward communications services providers if their lives are made easier. Research their needs and rework your systems to deliver easier, proactive and more customized services.

To keep customers from jumping to rivals, and to reduce your support costs, you must minimize customer effort and simplify, simplify, simplify.

That’s the overriding theme from our fourth annual survey of Communication Service Providers (CSPs.) From online ordering to mobile web apps, responses from nearly 2,000 U.S. customers showed they want simpler ways to choose, buy, pay for and get help with services such as high speed Internet, pay TV and phone. 

For example, our survey showed: 

  • Use of low-cost self-service digital channels such as the Web and mobile apps is shrinking, not growing. Rising numbers of customers are placing service orders at a physical store (arguably the most expensive option) and even tech savvy millennials find digital self-service difficult. 

  • While quality and price continue to be leading drivers, technology, care and usability (simplicity) rose sharply as a factor in customer satisfaction and thus retention

  • Simplicity is also important for the new services that drive future revenue, such as connected technologies. More than half of the core 18–49 year old customer demographic find such services very desirable, but said (along with reliability and data privacy) that ease of use contributes most to their satisfaction with them. 

What would simpler offerings look like? Examples include. 

  • Web pages that display only those services (such as Internet speeds or pay TV bundles) actually available in the customer’s area, avoiding a call to a customer service representative when the page doesn’t let the customer buy the service.

  • An AI-powered voice-response system available on Amazon Echo or Google Home that troubleshoots a customer’s slow Web connection and fixes it, without forcing the customer to sit through a series of voice prompts.

  • Personalized discounts or other offers based on a customer’s viewing or Web usage activity, rather than forcing them to wade through details of multiple, hard to understand offers.

The Road to Simplicity 

Among the ways you can improve your customers’ lives (and your business) through simplicity: 

  • Move beyond focus groups and conventional market research to ethnographic research that studies customers in the real world to better identify their needs.

  • Rework complex legacy systems and processes from a “customer first” perspective to maximize simplicity. 

  • Empower customer-facing employees to offer real-time refunds or credits to compensate for service outages or delayed repairs. Combined with insights from data analytics, this could turn a problem into an opportunity to cross or upsell. (“We see you’ve experienced extensive load times on Netflix over the last few days. Along with our apology we’re giving you two weeks of free access to our premium sports channel…”)

Figure 1

In the following Perspectives we’ll describe in more detail the need for simplicity, what a “service made simple” digital model entails, how to achieve it and finally how to reduce customer effort in your next wave of products and services. 

For additional study insights, see our infographic; to learn more about our communications services, visit our website.

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Simplicity: Your Secret Weapon to Keep Customers and Drive Sales (Part 1)