Coming wireless churn tsunami underscores importance of customer service

Some wireless carriers may be about to get a hard lesson in the value of customer service, with changes to the CRTC’s Wireless Code meaning an unprecedented number of wireless contracts are due to expire in June.

With many Canadians about to become out of contract free agents able to move to any mobile carrier they’d like, the potential for customer churn is high and carriers will need to work hard to retain their customers. While they’ll also be working to poach customers from other carriers, it’s cheaper to retain a customer than obtain a new one so retention will be key.

Key to any retention plan is going to be a comprehensive customer service strategy, meaning if carriers have been dropping the ball on customer service it may already be too late. A new report from J.D. Power, the 2015 Canadian Wireless Customer Care Study, examines how wireless customers feel about the customer service they receive from their carrier across four areas: phone customer service representative, in-store service, online service and phone automated response system.

According to the report, carriers like a competitive advantage beyond promoting devices, plans and network performance, and customer service could be that competitive differentiator. Particularly when it comes to developing a long-term relationship with the customer and helping to drive customer loyalty.

“Customer service needs to excel at every touch point,” said Adrian Chung, account director at J.D. Power, in a statement. “Carriers need to focus on timeliness and accessibility with every customer interaction, which can help differentiate carriers from their competition, satisfy customers and ultimately drive loyalty and advocacy. While the online channel is not a complete solution, it should be a key component of a carrier’s overall customer service strategy as it can facilitate quicker problem resolution than other channels.”

Source: J.D. Power 2015 Canadian Wireless Customer Care Study
Source: J.D. Power 2015 Canadian Wireless Customer Care Study

A successful customer service strategy will need to employ different methods for different generations. According to the report, Gen Y customers are more likely to use the online customer care channel than the industry average, and these customers also tend to be more satisfied with their customer experience than the average.

The survey data confirmed a satisfied customer is a sticky customer. Some 48 per cent of highly satisfied customers said they definitely will not switch to another carrier, and 69 per cent of highly satisfied customers said they would recommend their carrier to others.

When looking at the carrier rankings, SaskTel came out on top for customer care satisfaction with a score of 787, followed by Virgin Mobile at 773 and Kodo Mobile at 764. Telus Mobility and Fido rounded out the top five. Both Bell Mobility and Rogers Communications ranked below the industry average.

The study is based on responses from more than 5,000 wireless customers in October-November 2014 and March 2015.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras is a technology journalist with IT World Canada and a member of the IT Business team. He began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada and the channel for Computer Dealer News. His writing has also appeared in the Vancouver Sun & the Ottawa Citizen.

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