Speakers’ Corner: A service industry failing punters


Stephen Maxwell is chief commercial officer at ANOVO. He discusses how customers are being let down by insufficient after-sales processes and how the industry can improve in this area

In all industries, companies spend billions to attract new customers, investing in high-reach, high-spend television campaigns or more cost effective, highly targeted online advertising campaigns.

In fact, I was astonished to learn that UK advertisers spent £3.54 billion on online advertising alone in 2009.

More pertinent to the UK telecoms industry, is that £78 million was spent on their marketing campaigns last year. This is a massive investment that must deliver return in an ever competitive environment. In my view the key questions are: How can we delight current consumers?

How does the service industry meet this challenge?

ANOVO recently commissioned a study to better understand consumer perceptions of the post purchase experience and it became clear that we as an industry have some way to go.

With this in mind, I believe as an industry we need to shift our mindset, from seeing the after-sales process as a pure service/repair function versus a touch point by which we can further influence consumers and deliver a strong customer experience.

Taking this interaction as so much more than a functional requirement of repairing a phone within a set timeframe, we must consider and appeal to the emotional side of dealing with consumers.

For example, are they comfortable speaking to us? Are they able to clearly communicate with us? Are they confident we can answer their questions and progress their needs?

A personal approach can be successful – technical call centre services enabling direct contact with customers, and offering help with set-up and installation of applications, or assisting to resolve issues such as phone locks-ups and software freezing. It means the handset is not returned unnecessarily and customers are left happy.

Carphone Warehouse boss Charles Dunstone was recently quoted saying that moving forward the retailer anticipated that two out of three handsets sold would be smartphones.

Major customer issues are perceptions surrounding battery life, handset interaction with applications, videos, iPhone/smartphone activation or functionality.

All in all, recent insight has highlighted to me that as an industry we are not meeting consumers’ expectations and in doing so we are able to see clearly areas, that we can improve from both a service offering and after-sales handling view.