How Wireless Companies Can Capitalize on Complaint Calls

Wireless Network UpgradesAs part of ongoing operations, wireless providers are often engaged in network upgrades to enhance service, such as moving covered areas from 3G CDM to faster 4G LTE. Although faster service will ultimately please customers, upgrade work can create temporary problems such as dropped calls, callers going directly to voicemail and no ring. When this happens, call centers see spikes in complaint calls, like any call that comes into a contact center (or any concern customers register in-person at a retail store or online). Complaints about these and other issues are tremendous opportunities for wireless companies—if they’re handled right.

A missing expression

In April 2013, Sprint customers leveled a large number of complaints in the Chicago market when the carrier was upgrading to 4G LTE. Based on media coverage, a call center rep was quick to explain what customers already knew, saying that Sprint was upgrading across the city and that the work was causing service problems. A company spokeswoman was quoted in the press as saying, “Customers should begin noticing that their service is not only back to normal, but also that they have [a higher speed] 4G LTE signal.”

In June 2013, a customer in North Carolina called Verizon Wireless to report that he was having an issue with dropped calls, and the rep’s first response was, “OK, what is your cell phone number?”

AT&T customer contact agents missing key expression during calls.

AT&T customer contact agents missing key expression during calls.

An AT&T support article at AT&T.com, under help and info for network issues, states at the beginning, “Network issues like dropped calls, failed call attempts and poor call quality can occur for several reasons, including network coverage and geographic or physical obstruction (like mountains or the type of building you are in). We are constantly monitoring and optimizing our network to minimize wireless service issues as much as possible.”

From the customer’s point of view, one key expression was missing in the above examples. That is, the customers did not hear a greeting or read a statement that included empathy with an assurance of help.

Bob Davis, president of call center consultancy Robert C. Davis and Associates, specializes in training, coaching and consulting for wireless provider call centers, and he has seen that showing empathy and giving an assurance of help right out of the gate goes a long way toward satisfying the customer no matter what the issue.

A sigh of relief, setting the tone

“What was missing in the examples was a first statement to the customer such as, ‘I’m sorry that you’re having trouble, I know how frustrating a dropped call can be, and I can help you with that,’” said Davis. “From a problem-solving perspective it may seem logical to dive right in and get the customer’s phone number so you can look at the account. From a public relations perspective it may make sense to explain that upgrades will ultimately lead to better, faster service,” he said. “But if the customer first senses that the agent cares about their situation, is sorry about the problem and can relate to it, and is ready to help, the customer breathes a sigh of relief, because they know they’ve reached someone who is interested in them and wants to solve the problem. It makes an emotional connection. And that sets the tone for the rest of the call.”

Dramatic improvements in customer satisfaction and revenue

Strategic responses to complaint calls can increase saves rates, up-selling and cross-selling, says Bob Davis

Strategic responses to complaint calls can increase saves rates, up-selling and cross-selling, says Bob Davis

RCDA has seen this approach—part of an exclusive process it calls the Quality Conversation and robust call flow—make a dramatic difference not only in customer satisfaction but also wireless company revenues. For example companies that have implemented the Quality Conversation have boosted their saves rate on cancellation calls by 20 percent, adding millions of dollars to their bottom line.

“Or let’s look at a customer who calls in to complain about overage charges due to exceeding allotted minutes or data usage,” said Davis. “Starting out by showing empathy and an assurance of help paves the way to solving the problem with an plan upgrade,” he said. “We’ve seen the Quality Conversation improve agents’ effectiveness at cross-selling and up-selling by as much as 60 percent.”

The Quality Conversation leads agents through a robust call flow that includes a proper greeting (including empathy and assurance of help), full discovery, solution, overcoming objections and an assumptive close. The greeting, full discovery and overcoming objections steps of the call flow are especially critical when a customer calls in with a complaint about billing or service, or to cancel service altogether.

“It really is a simple concept, but it requires intensive training, coaching and follow-up to implement it in a wireless call center,” said Davis. “We work closely with agents, supervisors and company leadership to change the culture, achieve desired results with The Quality Conversation and sustain them over the long term. And we’ve seen our clients get a return of more than 90 times their investment in the first year alone.”

For more information on The Quality Conversation for wireless centers contact Bob Davis direct at 678-548-1775 for a free consultation, or visit our Wireless Industries Page.