Lack of Social Maturity in Telecom Presents Major Opportunities, Lithium Technologies study reveals
Study Shows Robust Social Customer Experience Investments Drive Serious Business Results
Feb. 19, 2013 – Lithium Technologies, the leader in Social Customer Experience, today published results from a global study that reveals telecoms that invest in on-domain social platforms have more confidence in the customer experiences they deliver. As it becomes increasingly difficult for telecoms to deliver exceptional customer experiences, those infusing social across their entire businesses have emerged as clear market leaders.
Social customer experience in telecom has far from matured, presenting massive opportunities for forward-thinking telecoms to set themselves apart and gain competitive advantage. This is particularly true in Asia-Pacific, and with social support in all regions, according to the study.
Importantly, the study showed that more socially mature telecoms enjoy significantly lower call center volume and support costs. With just 5% of telecoms today considering their customer experience excellent—down from 8% just two years ago – companies that give their customers engaging, excellent social customer experiences have a real opportunity to get ahead of the competition.
The research, conducted by UK-based telecom analyst firm Telesperience, surveyed senior representatives from more than 40 communication service providers across the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific.
The Telecommunications Industry Is Keen To Get Social (And Will Invest)
Social customer experience today is essential for success in the telecommunications industry, with respondents noting high adoption across public social networks and plans for continued investment.
93% of telecoms now connect with customers through public social networks
95% of telecoms plan to maintain or increase their social media budgets this year
The study also revealed that there is quite a bit of room for growth, and this growth will happen fast in the next 24 months.
68% telecoms today use social to engage loyal customers—by 2015, 83% will.
59% of telecoms today bring customer ideas to market—by 2015, 86% will
Those telecoms who aren’t using social to engage loyal customers or bring customer ideas to market by 2015 risk becoming social customer experience laggards, failing to keep up with 85%+ of their competitors.
The study revealed that the greatest opportunities for telecoms to differentiate on the social customer experience over the next two years lie in social support—enabling self-service support through social channels, and social commerce—enlisting social customers to give purchase advice.
44% of telecoms have social support solutions today—by 2015, 64% will
27% of telecoms enlist social customers to give purchase advice—by 2015, 59% will.
Making the Business Case For Social
The study results show a clear correlation between robust customer service programs driven by social and demonstrable business results. Telecoms using social to transform the customer experience via an integrated strategy (i.e. an un-siloed approach) realized a huge reduction in support call volume in 2012. Companies that enlist customers to help others and share ideas decreased call center spend by twice the global average over the course of the year.
While broad investment and prioritization of social in the customer experience proved be a global trend, the maturity levels and subsequent tangible success of social initiatives was varied. It appears that some companies are missing the mark by not taking a holistic, company-wide approach when implementing social programs.
Often individual departments are responsible for setting social strategy and implementation. The study found that at 76% of telecoms the marketing department is one of the primary drivers of social strategy, while in only 41% of the cases customer care was a primary driver.
Respondents in the Americas were shown to have the most mature social strategies and corresponding results, with 82% currently engaged in enlisting customers support to other customers (compared to 46% in EMEA and 33% in Asia-Pacific). Sixty-five percent of American respondents have realized clear business impact from social and 27% stated that crowdsourced innovation – enlisting customers to contribute ideas for future product development – is a driver of competitive advantage. Perhaps most importantly, American telecoms tended to have drivers of social strategy spread evenly across their businesses, as opposed to confining it within one department.
Europe and Asia-Pacific present clear opportunities for companies ready to get serious about social. In Europe, the most mature telecom market, 100% of telecoms surveyed said they planned to implement social in order to drive business results by 2015 – a 65% increase. And in the Asia-Pacific region the focus will be on revenue opportunities, with a high growth in investments focused on social commerce predicted by 2015.
Teresa Cottam, Research Director at Telesperience
“Telecommunications is arguably one of the most competitive consumer markets around. As the results of this research show, organisations across the globe are increasingly open to using social media to boost their competitiveness, with around two-thirds using it to drive business impact, and an additional 27% are looking to do so in the future. The service providers that succeed tomorrow will be the ones that invest in innovation now. The market moves so quickly that today’s excellent customer experience will be little more than average tomorrow. Using social channels to increase interaction with end-users will help organisations to source new ideas and stay ahead of the curve when it comes to evolving customer expectations.”
Rob Tarkoff, President & Chief Executive Officer, Lithium
“The customer experience, built around engaging with your customers on their terms, is something the telecommunications industry has struggled to keep pace with, particularly given the entry of over-the-top players in recent years. However, a haphazard approach to social is no longer acceptable. Social strategies need to deliver the right things – serious results that tie back to core business goals.
“The telecommunications industry is beginning to realize the value of social, but needs to focus on the right metrics in order to be successful. Companies need to move past the pointless hunt for buzz, likes, comments and high fives – and start thinking seriously about ROI. They need to hold social accountable to the same goals and standards that they apply to any other area of business, like reduced costs, greater satisfaction, and increased revenue.”
About Lithium Technologies
Lithium helps companies unlock the passion of their customers. Lithium software powers amazing Social Customer Experiences for more than 400 iconic brands including AT&T, BT, Best Buy, Indosat, Sephora, Skype and Telstra. Lithium helps companies grow brand advocacy, drive sales, reduce costs and accelerate innovation to create a brand nation that redefines the customer experience. For more information, visit http://www.lithium.com, or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and our own brand nation – the Lithosphere. Lithium is privately held with corporate headquarters in Emeryville, Calif. and offices in Europe, Asia and Australia.
Telesperience is a UK-based telecoms analyst firm focused on how software and data helps communications service providers improves their operational efficiency, commercial agility and the customer experience they deliver. We consider where the problems lie with legacy technology, and how companies can transition to provide a more positive Telesperience for their customers and a more profitable business for themselves. For more information about Telesperience see www.telesperience.com, check out our blog at www.microsperience.com or visit our B2B wiki at www.wikisperience.com.