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Why Service Providers Should Think About Buying Trousers

Tailoring a good fit is key to building customer loyalty.

06/04/2017 3:34 PM IST | Updated 10/04/2017 9:12 AM IST
Danish Siddiqui / Reuters

My service provider should be thinking about trousers when it crafts a plan for me. Think about it. When you want to buy trousers, you head to Shopper's Stop, choose a pair that is the right colour and style, and try them on. If the trousers don't fit, you move on to the next pair, and by the time you walk out of the store, you have a pair of trousers that are exactly what you need. Service providers know my phone habits, my viewing habits, and my texting habits. Using the massive amounts of data they collect, they know what my digital lifestyle looks like, and so they have the ability to offer a plan to me that fits me perfectly, like a pair of trousers.

Instead of offering a plan that fits my life, service providers create plans to fit my wallet.

But instead of offering a plan that fits my life, service providers create plans to fit my wallet. And when they compete in a price-driven marketplace, my loyalty can be purchased by the lowest available price, even if that means switching service providers 12 times a year. My number comes with me, the voice and data services are fairly similar, and the combination of those two elements essentially ensures that there is no reason for me to stay with any service provider who isn't offering me the lowest price.

So, utilising all the digital tools at their disposal, how can service providers convince me to stick around longer than it takes Umesh Yadav to send down a seaming leg cutter?

Create custom plans

As I said earlier, the key is thinking about how customers buy trousers. My service provider knows that I enjoy listening to 92.7 FM on my commute in the morning, and watching Virat Kohli battle the Aussies in the afternoon. But instead of offering me a data plan with zero-rating for my favorite activities (meaning that data doesn't count against my cap), they offer me zero-rated Facebook and WhatsApp, two platforms which a lot of people love but I use rarely.

Obviously, as a serial service provider jumper, my new service provider doesn't know my phone habits, but suppose they reeled me in with a good price plan and the promise of a custom-designed plan after three months. This is where Artificial Intelligence (AI) comes in. AI will help my service provider to understand my personal usage patterns, and they could capture my loyalty with a plan that fits me, like a pair of trousers.

The rise of the bot

Subscription plans aren't the only place where artificial intelligence can improve my customer experience. Like everyone else, I don't want to sit on hold waiting for an agent to take my call, especially when my calls are routine. One recent trend I've noticed, which is pretty impressive, is the use of chat-bots to handle routine issues. Whether I'm reaching out through Facebook or contacting the call centre, these virtual assistants are saving me time, and getting me answers.

AI will help my service provider to understand my personal usage patterns, and they could capture my loyalty with a plan that fits me, like a pair of trousers.

Service providers need to jump on this trend quickly. It's only logical that a chat-bot can handle level one customer support issues. The service providers who do this sooner, rather than later, will have a leg up on their competitors, because by 2020, Gartner predicts 85% of all relationships between people and enterprises will be handled by chat bots.

Knowledge is power

One last place where service providers can serve me better is with their customer visibility. There are times, of course, when a chat bot can't help resolve an issue, and I'll need to talk with people on the other end of the line. There is little worse than getting in touch with the customer representative, and finding out that they don't have a 360-degree view of my account. Blending AI into the CRM backend systems will mean less time spent repeating my address information and phone number to every rep that I talk with. It will also mean the service rep will have a better understanding of the type of content I enjoy on my mobile, and put them in a position to offer me services that I'll actually use.

When service providers start combining these and other AI techniques, we're going to start seeing a much better level of loyalty and relationship between customers and service providers. Something more like between you and that perfect pair of trousers.

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