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Jul 01 2016

Why service with a smile is worth so much

Twitter: @miiatoi

The Nokia Acquisition and Retention study 2016 results revealed

Operators continue to invest in network quality in the expectation that their customers will appreciate good coverage and quality of service by staying loyal. However, customers today tend to take a high quality network for granted and instead focus more on the entire customer experience with their operator.  As such, customer care, alongside other touchpoints, is becoming the human interface of the operator to their customers and the pivotal point which can either make or break the relationship.

I have been talking to a rising number of operators who are rethinking their strategy and taking a new approach making customer care their competitive differentiator.  For example, these operators are investing in 24/7 hot lines, customer call backs rather than calling queues, and care agents providing training and easy-to-use trouble-shooting tools to fix issues in real time.  These operators aim to turn customer care from a cost center into a profit center and make it a key function which is run by proud and friendly personnel and one that is highly regarded and rewarded within their business.

These operators lead the market and understand the growing importance of care on their customer relationships, reinforcing a trend highlighted by Nokia’s latest Acquisition and Retention Study - customer care has 60% more impact on mobile subscriber loyalty than it did in 2014, the single biggest change in the survey.

When customers have an enquiry or a complaint, the first thing they do is call their operator for resolution. The study found that fixing a customer’s complaint is of primary importance and has the biggest impact on retention at 7%. The competence of staff handling the enquiry or complaint then has a further 6% impact on retention. Meanwhile, good information about the status of the service, a speedy response and friendliness are all highly appreciated. Comments collected from consumers and operators as part of the study support this further.

“I had a complaint but that didn’t change my opinion of the operator because the customer service took immediate action and solved my problem very quickly,” said a consumer in Spain.

“Unfortunately, in this country, a lot of the time you get terrible service - people cut you off and keep passing you to different departments,” commented a consumer in Africa.

And one operator in Japan told researchers: “Customer care is becoming very influential on retention. If we do not respond to customers’ concerns properly, they will often leave us.”

Moreover, the study results reveal that as markets mature, and devices and services become ever more complex, consumers are looking for operators to provide a high level of care across many different services including security, device management and value-added services . These findings make sense in light of what we are seeing happening in the industry.  It is clear that mobile customers want their operator to fix their problems efficiently and, even better, with a smile.  And in my experience, it does yield results.

A great example is an operator in Asia Pacific, that focused on improving its Net Promoter Scores (NPS) by giving better tools to their customer care agents.  These tools provided better historical information about the customer account, remote trouble shooting capabilities and workflow libraries.  And as for the results? This operator saw an 18% improvement in “right first time” call resolution, a greater than 40% reduction in call handling time for the top workflows and the Net Promoter Scores of the customer care agents who were equipped with these better tools were double those of the agents who didn’t have them.

It’s never been the wrong time to invest in customer satisfaction. It’s proven to pay off in higher loyalty and likely, more revenue – as it’s well established that companies that place customers at the heart of   their business by and large prosper over the long-term.

For more from Nokia’s 2016 Acquisition and Retention Study, visit

Share your thoughts on this topic by replying below – or join the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks or @nokia using #NokiaStudy

About Miia Toivola

Miia drives Nokia’s global Acquisition & Retention Study. You can also ask her about network management, SON, CEM and analytics. She has 15 years of international experience in telecomms, in Nokia business development, and in product and portfolio management and marketing. Miia has an M.Sc. in Industrial Management from the Helsinki University of Technology and successfully juggles post-graduate studies, family, friends and sports...with a smile.