Customer engagement holds potential to boost GCC telco profits

Customer engagement holds potential to boost GCC telco profitsGCC telecom groups must overhaul customer engagement approach to counteract dwindling profits

Kinetic BPO helps telcos effectively respond to market opportunities

GCC telecommunications companies must re-balance their customer experience approach in order to stay profitable in a rapidly changing business environment. A recent paper from Kinetic BPO, a specialist business process outsourcing company, revealed that companies are largely failing to align services with customer expectations.

Key expectations from customers in the GCC include telecom operators’ ability to fix problems within a 24-hour time period, a personalised service and to feel valued for their business. A misalignment between customer expectations and service largely exists due to companies implementing incorrect metrics to measure ‘customer satisfaction’. Key areas include KPIs at contact centres measuring how fast calls are answered as opposed to how well issues are resolved; poorly trained frontline staff; and an over-reliance on retail outlets for customer service.

“The telecommunications sector forms the backbone of most economies in the region and is critical for sustained economic growth. The key to successfully navigating the many challenges facing the region’s telecom groups lies with the customer. A number of studies show a direct correlation between enhanced customer experience and profitability. Those who fail to invest in the ‘customer experience’ and align their services with customer expectations will lose market share and reduce profitability,” said Joe Tawfik, a telecommunications expert and CEO, Kinetic BPO.

In the UAE, telco companies saw their profit levels dwindle after the Government set new royalty rates in 2012 for telecoms operators, under their licence agreements, forcing them to pay higher tax bills. Currently, Etisalat pays 15 per cent on revenues and 35 per cent on profits for the 2012-15 period. Du Telecom, meanwhile, was required to pay 5 per cent on revenues and 17.5 per cent on profits in 2012, but will see its revenue and profit royalties rise incrementally on an annual basis to reach 15% and 30% by 2016.

“With increased competition from other providers, mobile number portability and the fast pace of new digital technologies, customer engagement is now, more than ever, key for GCC telecom companies. Kinetic BPO provides a range of outsourcing solutions designed to transform traditional cost base centres into profit generating centres. Implementing global best practices across key activities including audits and staff training can significantly improve the customer experience, and thus market share,” added Tawfik.

Speed and agility have become central themes for many of the telecom companies in the region, as they look to evolve their operating models so they can become sustainable in this new market environment.  Companies like Etisalat have looked to grow through international expansion such as the binding offer recently made to acquire Vivendi’s 53% Stake in Maroc Telecom, Morocco’s leading provider.

“Whilst telecom groups are working towards streamlining their domestic operations to address the new market realities and to better prepare themselves for sustained growth, the success will ultimately depend on the adoption of customer-centric strategies to elevate the customer experience. It is not sustainable to compete on price and many of the operators currently have few loyal customers. This makes these customers likely to churn if a better offer comes along. We provide a roadmap to evolve how customers feel about a brand. We believe there is a significant opportunity to convert neutral customers into brand advocates. By changing how telcos serve their customers they can ultimately increase customer loyalty, making a traditional cost item into a revenue generating centre,” said Tawfik.

Recent research from Gartner, cited that Middle East spending on consumer-based technology and on subscription-based services for mobile voice and data is higher than the global average.

“There is a real appetite for the latest smartphone, newest app and innovative content from Middle East customers. This creates real opportunities for operators in the region and also dictates that speed is critical to capitalise on the opportunities,” concluded Tawfik.

#GCC telecom groups# Kinetic BPO# telco profits# telecommunications sector