April 4, 2011

Helplines! Are the really helping?

Helpline as the name suggest is meant to “help”. Helplines are telephonic services which offers help to those who call for any query or problem. Many helpline services around the world now offer more than telephone support - offering access to information, advice or customer service via telephone, email, web or SMS. Helplines are customer’s 1st most preferred point of contact with company. Customers call over helpline for any query, problem. They are customer’s first and most preferred point of contact to get any information because of the fact that customers don’t need to go anywhere and he can get every bit of information by calling over the helpline. In this context the performance and connectivity of helpline is very important. Helpline is the most important and easiest platform for customer to get the desired information as a result of which Helplines are playing a vital role in enhancing or decreasing customer satisfaction and also keeping customers on board with the particular company.

In the context of telecommunication the role of Helplines is very much important. As telecom services are related to cell phones and telephones so calling over the helpline for any desired information is most obviously the first choice of any customer. As now days every one wants to have comfort, luxury and high quality services without any hassle and without being going anywhere and to make this possible Helplines need to be technologically advanced, staff should be properly trained and response time should be as less as possible.

Though in Pakistan every cellular company boasts of putting customer first and claims to provide cutting edge technology and services to its customers but in actual situation is quite much different. In my view following are the issues which customers are currently facing while calling on Helplines:

· Customers have to wait so much to talk to company representative. On average a customer has to wait for 5-10 minutes to talk to Customer Care Representative and most of the times they have to wait more than that.

· Most of the customers are illiterate therefore they do not understand technical jargons and Urdu or English. Therefore most of the times they do not understand what is being communicated to them hence they end the call cluelessly and they have to call again and again for that specific issue or information.

· IVR’s of the companies are not much equipped with information and they do not contain all desired information for customers.

· CCRs don’t provide in depth or hidden information to customers most of the time to wrap up the call quickly hence creating a bad image of company in customers mind and most of the time such customers hit back hard or port out their numbers.

· SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures) of the companies should be customer friendly as they are made to facilitate customers but in actual the situation is quite different. E.g. I myself have to call around 5 times to my operator for my GPRS settings issue. Though it was a simple thing it took one week to be resolved.

There are many more issues faced by customers on daily basis as a result of which customers either leave the services of a particular company or they have to contact PTA for the resolution of their issues. All these issues require immediate attention of respective operators and PTA so that customers can get the desired services from Helplines. Few simple recommendations to improve the working are as below:

· The number of CCRs should be enhanced with increase in customer base so that customers don’t have to wait so long to talk to CCRs.

· Customers should be prioritized in different segments as per their monthly usage and tenure with the operator.

· New technology must be implemented to reduce wait time for customers and effective performance of the Helplines.

· CCRs should be properly trained and they should be able to talk in simple and understandable language with the customers. Infect they should try to speak as per customer level.

· The SOP’s should be flexible and customer facilitation should be the first and foremost priority.

· The KPI’s of CCRs should also be bit flexible so that instead of wrapping up the call in quick time they focus on providing accurate and precise information to customers. Moreover CCRs shouldn't be much over burdened and work load should be such so that they can handle it easily.

· The compensation structure for CCRs should be as per inflation level so that they work with more motivation and commitment.

· IVR’s should be properly equipped with all the necessary and hidden information so that customer can get all the desired information without being talking to CCRs.

· Cellular Operators should also focus on providing customer services through other channels like chat so that burden of calls from the helpline can be minimized.

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