Customers are no longer confined to physical stores for purchases – it is time for telecom brands to unite all channels in order to meet with customers’ expectations. Modern shoppers are seeking personalized relationships for an enhanced experience on all channels during the entire buyer’s journey.
The telecom industry has come under strain in recent years, even though the number of network subscribers continues to increase, bundle packages are reaching market saturation levels at “cut-throat pricing competition”. With little to no differentiation between providers, the market has become fiercely contested. It has also become apparent that the average consumer requires more than just the latest product, they are looking for service speed, additional content options, and outstanding customer service.
In a recent survey report that we have conducted with over 300 Telecom consumers, we found that a good, comprehensive buyer journey is very important: 81% of respondents would be affected negatively by a poor customer journey and consider alternatives to this brand. Of which, 26% would abandon the process entirely and refuse to purchase from that particular brand.
The fact that 65% of respondents have left the purchasing process and switched to an alternative provider, not due to product quality or price but simply because the purchasing process was more transparent and easier to navigate, clearly shows the power of the online buyer journey.
CONSUMER BEHAVIORS AND TRENDS
The customer journey is now mostly happening online. Customers browse the internet in the hopes to receive product information (more than 80% according to google), to purchase or request support. However, telecom websites do not provide a well-detailed product information and their websites are usually not very easy to navigate.
“72% of young shoppers research online before purchasing in a store”.
Customers expect to receive digital assistance and more so than ever, expect their doubts and questions to be answered in real-time. They want to have the ability to ask an agent for help or assistance online. Transparency online is one of the biggest trust indicators for customers who want to buy online as it gives them the same in-store confidence with the brand.
Q: When it comes to choosing a network provider or a product/offer over another while shopping online, what do you value the most?
46% of telecom consumers think real-time assistance is the most important factor when choosing a network provider online
There are multiple ways to improve the customer buying journey, elements such as load speed, information hierarchy, and UX focused web designs have all been found to enhance customer experience. Interaction appears to be one of the most powerful tools in improving the online buyer journey. Customer expectations are driving the move towards more complex support services. As customers no longer wish to sit through FAQ’s or simple answer options, many companies are starting to implement tools with greater capacity for interaction. This interaction is especially crucial for the telecom industry due to the relative flexibility and complexity of their bundles and products.
CURRENT BUYING EXPERIENCE
The telecom industry has become more challenging due to growing competition; this means that differentiation and customer satisfaction have never been more critical to the success of brands in this industry. Many leading industry experts believe the key to success is maximizing the customer buying journey. Brian Solis, a leading business advisor, has stated that experience is now more important than product, and in reality, the experience is the product. The customer journey overwhelming begins online; however online shopping abandonment rates are at around 73%. Many customers who abandon the sales process online, will then visit a store to purchase the item. Current e-commerce experiences seem to be failing to deliver customers the level of service they expect.
Difficult site navigation and seemingly extended sales processes account for 6% and 21% of all sales abandonment respectively. Given the complexity of telecom products and the amount of information required, it is fair to assume that comprehensive buyer journey support would help alleviate this. However, the type and level of customer interaction should be driven by customer expectations, as this is proving to be the most effective strategy. Furthermore, customers are quick to switch preferences and seek out brands that offer authentic and transparent experiences according to Gartner.
Q: How well do telecoms brands allow you to research, evaluate and purchase products online, with regards to information and interaction provided online?
This question would suggest that overall customers are generally satisfied with their user journey. However, 25% of respondents felt that their buyer experience was average at best.
Outdated online forms, simply automated bots and inbound phone numbers no longer convert. Customers have the ball in their court and expect brands to:
- Be digital-friendly
- Service & experience oriented
- Engaging and conversational
- Know what they need better than they do
- Seamless and quick sales assistance
“By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as a key brand differentiator — and, for the most part, that experience will be digital.”
Q: If the online customer journey was not up to your expectations: lack of product information, difficult and not-seamless purchase process, no online sales assistance, to what extent would this affect your purchase decision?
55% of customer will be affected and would consider an alternative provider if the customer journey was not up to expectations.
Customers are empowered by technology, thus brands should no longer attract the customer to them but instead, convince the customer that they are worthy of their time and money. This is why online experiences matter – multichannel experience to connect with the customer at all touch points. To add on, customers expect to talk to brands with the same digital channels they use to communicate with their friends and families (chat, video, voice).
Download our latest 2018 US Telecom market research now and see what else we have found out!