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Five tips for customer service success

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It costs more to acquire a new customer than to keep a current one happy, so it makes sense for organisations to keep there customer services department running smoothy. JIM FREEZE of Aspect Software provides five tips for customer service success.

Most of us will have been at the receiving end of bad customer service, and it is normally something that you do not forget too quickly. However, it may not purely be the contact centre’s fault; according to research we did earlier this year, our expectations of the quality of customer service (everything from speed to going above and beyond the call of duty) have risen in the past three years, and this trend is likely to continue.

Offering customers a positive experience can prove pivotal to an organisation’s reputation, yet today many companies are still more focused on finding more customers than they are in keeping their current ones happy. This is a flawed process; the fact of the matter is that this is a well-known adage even among the layman – it costs six to seven times more to acquire a new customer than keep a current one. This makes it even more imperative that the experience you offer your customers is as good as it can possibly be. So to help you achieve this, here are some important issues that all business leaders, large and small, need to know in order to plan for a tiptop customer experience.

1. Bad customer service is something you never forget

Thanks to people being so interconnected today, consumers have the capability to make or break a brand through sharing their experiences to a huge audience via social media. The Aspect survey found that 55 per cent of consumers stopped doing business with at least one company during the past year because of a poor customer experience.

The danger with negative customer service being vented through social media is that everyone has access to it – even the mainstream media, and if they pick up on poor service, it could be disastrous for your brand. However, offering good customer service through this channel can have the reverse effect, creating a positive brand perception that is shared the world over.

2. It’s not just customers who can benefit

Good customer service works both ways; it benefits the customer and in turn, benefits your business. Customers feel very strongly about the service they receive and stated in our study that they would pay more money to a business if it ensured they received a positive experience. We also found that more than three quarters (76 per cent) of consumers think that customer service is a “true test” of how much a company values its customers.

For years customer service departments have been considered a hindrance to a company’s budget and not as a necessity to invest in to help expansion. It is important to have customers who are happy, so that they remain customers (and for longer), and you are able to grow as a business.

3. Always add a personal touch

Customers don’t want to be told how they must interact with your company; they want to be able to contact you in a method of their choosing. We live in a digital age where consumers simply do not want to have to chat to a business over the phone, they want to be able to use social media, text, or the internet to engage with you, and businesses need to provide these solutions.

Personalisation provides an opportunity for businesses to build customer loyalty, customers will inherently be more satisfied if they don’t have to put in a lot of leg work to get their questions answered, and allowing them to control how they contact you will do this.

4. Customer interactions benefits your business as well

It is important to remember that offering customers a personalised experience also has its benefits for your organisation. By harvesting and analysing customer data – such as a purchase history, their habits when they visit your website online, or what kind of marketing communication they respond to – your contact centre and marketing departments have the capability to gain critical information on what your customers want, and what attracts them to your company. This provides an opportunity for you to use this data and understand how best to promote your brand.

5. The customer journey is an information goldmine

Marketing teams are missing out on a huge opportunity if they do not use customer service as a platform for future campaigns. If you follow your customers’ experiences across all touch points, you’ll be amazed at the wealth of information you’ll acquire.

Understanding consumers’ journeys can give insight into how their experience affects their loyalty to you and their future business with you. So, pick up the phone and call, tweet or text your customer service professionals. You’ll be surprised what you learn.

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Rain, Telkom Mobile, lead in affordable data

A new report by the telecoms regulator in South Africa reveal the true consumer champions in mobile data costs

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The latest bi-annual tariff analysis report produced by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) reveals that Telkom Mobile data costs for bundles are two-thirds lower than those of Vodacom and MTN. On the other hand, Rain is half the price again of Telkom. 

The report focuses on the 163 tariff notifications lodged with ICASA during the period 1 July 2018 to 31 December 2018.

“It seeks to ensure that there is retail price transparency within the electronic communications sector, the purpose of which is to enable consumers to make an informed choice, in terms of tariff plan preferences and/or preferred service providers based on their different offerings,” said Icasa.

ICASA says it observed the competitiveness between licensees in terms of the number of promotions that were on offer in the market, with 31 promotions launched during the period. 

The report shows that MTN and Vodacom charge the same prices for a 1GB and a 3GB data bundle at R149 and R299 respectively.  On the other hand, Telkom Mobile charges (for similar-sized data bundles) R100 (1GB) and R201 (3GB). Cell C discontinued its 1GB bundle, which was replaced with a 1.5GB bundle offered at the same price as the replaced 1GB data bundle at R149. 

Rain’s “One Plan Package” prepaid mobile data offering of R50 for a 1GB bundle remains the most affordable when compared to the offers from other MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) and MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators).  

“This development should have a positive impact on customers’ pockets as they are paying less compared to similar data bundles and increases choice,” said Icasa.

The report also revealed that the cost of out-of-bundle data had halved at both MTN and Vodacom, from 99c per Megabyte a year ago to 49c per Megabyte in the first quarter of this year. This was still two thirds more expensive than Telkom Mobile, which has charged 29c per Megabyte throughout this period (see graph below).

Meanwhile, from having positioned itself as consumer champion in recent years, Cell C has fallen on hard times, image-wise: it is by far the most expensive mobile network for out-of-bundle data, at R1.10 per Megabyte. Its prices have not budged in the past year.

The report highlights the disparities between the haves and have-nots in the dramatically plummeting cost of data per Megabyte as one buys bigger and bigger bundles on a 30-day basis (see graph below).

For 20 Gigabyte bundles, all mobile operators are in effect charging 4c per Megabyte. Only at that level do costs come in at under Rain’s standard tariffs regardless of use.

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Qualcomm wins 5G as Apple and Intel cave in

A flurry of announcements from three major tech players ushered in a new mobile chip landscape, wrItes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Last week’s shock announcement by Intel that it was canning its 5G modem business leaves the American market wide open to Qualcomm, in the wake of the latter winning a bruising patent war with Apple.

Intel Corporation announced its intention to “exit the 5G smartphone modem business and complete an assessment of the opportunities for 4G and 5G modems in PCs, internet of things devices and other data-centric devices”.

Intel said it would also continue to invest in its 5G network infrastructure business, sharpening its focus on a market expected to be dominated by Huawei, Nokia and Ericsson.

Intel said it would continue to meet current customer commitments for its existing 4G smartphone modem product line, but did not expect to launch 5G modem products in the smartphone space, including those originally planned for launches in 2020. In other words, it would no longer be supplying chips for iPhones and iPads in competition with Qualcomm.

“We are very excited about the opportunity in 5G and the ‘cloudification’ of the network, but in the smartphone modem business it has become apparent that there is no clear path to profitability and positive returns,” said Intel CEO Bob Swan. “5G continues to be a strategic priority across Intel, and our team has developed a valuable portfolio of wireless products and intellectual property. We are assessing our options to realise the value we have created, including the opportunities in a wide variety of data-centric platforms and devices in a 5G world.”

The news came immediately after Qualcomm and Apple issued a joint announced of an agreement to dismiss all litigation between the two companies worldwide. The settlement includes a payment from Apple to Qualcomm, along with a six-year license agreement, and a multiyear chipset supply agreement.

Apple had previously accused Qualcomm of abusing its dominant position in modem chips for smartphones and charging excessive license fees. It ordered its contract manufacturers, first, to stop paying Qualcomm for the chips, and then to stop using the chips altogether, turning instead to Intel.
With Apple paying up and Intel pulling out, Qualcomm is suddenly in the pound seats. It shares hit their highest levels in five years after the announcements.

Qualcomm said in a statement: “As we lead the world to 5G, we envision this next big change in cellular technology spurring a new era of intelligent, connected devices and enabling new opportunities in connected cars, remote delivery of health care services, and the IoT — including smart cities, smart homes, and wearables. Qualcomm Incorporated includes our licensing business, QTL, and the vast majority of our patent portfolio.”

Meanwhile, Strategy Analytics released a report on the same day that showed Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia will lead the market in core 5G infrastructure, namely Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment, by 2023 as the 5G market takes off. Huawei is expected to have the edge as a result of the vast scale of the early 5G market in China and its long term steady investment in R&D. According to a report entitled “Comparison and 2023 5G Global Market Potential for leading 5G RAN Vendors – Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia”, two outliers, Samsung and ZTE, are expected to expand their global presence alongside emerging vendors as competition heats up.

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