Working for a company that helps telco retailers undergo digital transformations has definitely changed my perspective on the industry, and retail in general for that matter.
I know what retailers are capable of, their untapped potential and what a good experience entails. My job has piqued my interest in retail experiences and I often find myself analyzing my own personal shopping experiences – and 90% of the time I find myself wanting more.
And I’m not talking about wanting an ultra-tech fueled experience either. I’m talking about the basics that retailers miss, like having enough staff on a shift and not making customers jump through hoops to complete simple transactions.
Recently I moved from Halifax, Canada to London, England. Anyone who’s made an international move knows the pain of spending hours upon hours with visas, closing accounts, opening new accounts, applying for new ID’s, packing and everything else in between.
One service I needed to transfer was my cell phone.
Before leaving Canada, I visited the local mall to purchase a few items and visit my telco provider to investigate my options for discontinuing my service – yes, I shop at the mall!
I had purchased my new iPhone 8 in January 2019, so as you can imagine I, had quite a lot owing and a few questions about how ending the contract would work out.
As I approached the telco mall stand, I could see that two employees were already busy talking to two other customers. I stood at the counter for 30 minutes before being addressed by an employee.
The employee took and typed my credentials into a desktop computer and quickly told me my options, which were:
- Put my account on hold for a monthly fee
- Payout what was owing on my contract
- Transfer my account to someone else
They also informed me that I could actually call and end my service the morning I was to leave. As the employee handed me a card with the phone number, they apologized for the wait and I was off.
A few days later, I called the number and waited a few minutes to get through to the agent.
They were friendly but, after 10 minutes they realized I had a mobile account, not a landline – so my credentials needed to be re-entered. Since I was canceling the service, I’d be credited money I’d paid on my last bill – which would be sent to me in the mail – and since I was moving I had to have it sent to my parent’s house, again a little frustrating but not the end of the world.
The overall experience was slow and in total took 45 minutes on the phone.
My Canadian telco experience was tedious, my options were limited, and they took too much time.
Cheers to the UK!
When I arrived in London, we went to my partner’s current provider to see if they offered any bundles. My less-than-desirable Canadian experience left me skeptical of how this UK telco experience would go.
And to my surprise, it went very smoothly. At this telco, we were greeted immediately by an employee who quickly asked us what we’re looking for. We explained I was looking for a SIM card and to join my partner’s plan.
The employee sat us down in a booth and pulled out a tablet, where they entered my partner’s details.
The employee explained that my number could be added to the service and we expanded our data to share – for a cheaper price than he was already paying. My partner was also offered an upgrade to an iPhone XR, which he took!
The associate changed my SIM card, showed us how to transfer data on their app, explained how everything would work and look on our next bill and gave us a phone number to call if we had any issues or questions.
We walked out happy and satisfied with our purchase.
Compare and Contrast
After two starkly different experiences, it’s hard not to compare these two telcos.
What are the factors that make these experiences so different? Employee training? Systems? Store design? Location?
The answer is unknown – but if I were a betting gal, I’d say it’s a combination of all those things and more. My two experiences show how an interaction can change someone’s outlook on your business and how customers do compare experiences – on a global scale.
Neither of these experiences used “new” technology or made any grand gesture. One simply met my needs and provided me with the service I wanted in one visit, while the other made me jump through hoops and tested my patience.
What experience are you providing? What experience do you want to provide? How is that received by your customer?
These answers may be different, or they may be the same. But at the end of the day, you need to determine whether you’re delivering an experience your customers need because if you don’t, you’ll lose them.