One of the most frustrating aspects of internet connectivity is a provider’s customer service — it is horrendous. Oftentimes, ISPs don’t take customers seriously once they have bound them in a long-term contract, and they cannot get out of it unless they pay a hefty termination fee.
Usually, customers complain via customer support, but the staff only listens and doesn’t follow up. It’s also true that the support staff isn’t often well acquainted with a provider’s service details, and most ISPs are quite vague about their pricing and other aspects of their service on their official website. Anything that isn’t marketable is hidden under layers and layers of pages of the site, written in fine print.
Dissatisfaction with an Internet provider’s customer service is varied and subjective. ISPs rather spend a significant amount on marketing budget but not on customer experience that comes once someone signs up for services with them. The notorious lack of customer support in the ISP industry is quite baffling for most customers.
See the reasons below that inhibit ISPs in delivering an enhanced or at the least an adequate customer experience, and what they can do about it.
Why ISPs don’t Take Their Customers Seriously?
The trouble is that ISPs take their customers very seriously, but so much of an effort is concentrated on charming a customer in to subscribing to their services or bundling up the internet with cable TV and home phone, but no effort is put after that.
So when a customer faces slow or fluctuating internet speeds and they call the provided toll-free number given on the website, they hear an automated recording that raps out robotic instructions on what options they have and how can they choose. It becomes quite frustrating when a customer’s problem is unique and the robotic instructions don’t provide many options or flexibility to address their issue.
Their annoyance escalates and after some weary tears, they connect with a real-life human for help. And not every customer is happy to talk to a human at the other end of the line, and things get worse when the person on the other end doesn’t have a native accent like theirs. For most ISPs it is expensive to maintain a customer support staff 24/7, so they contract these services to a third-party company, who handles all sorts of customer calls and often from customers of more than one provider.
So the support staff is overstretched. They may have been given basic training in customer support, but things get weary for them as well as they handle a wide variety of customer complaints and orders from different ISPs. So it is hard for them to recall or keep up with different types of service terms, agreements, and conditions for each provider. So a customer gets further agitated as the support staff provides contradicting information to what a customer knows or had heard from another support representative.
Though one cannot blame the staff completely, customers shouldn’t have such a harrowing experience as they pay a pretty penny in their monthly bill and get abysmal service in return.
There are very few Internet Service companies in the United States such as the AT&T Internet Service Provider, which ensure that their customers receive the best possible service they can provide. And that’s reflective in their pricing packages as they don’t bother with speed tiers, instead, they offer the highest possible internet speed their infrastructure is capable of providing in their area.
AT&T has a wide variety of network infrastructures, from old twisted copper lines at some locations to newly laid fiber-optic network in others. Its transmission towers deliver fixed wireless service to the inhabitants in rural areas, and it is fast ramping up its 5G services.
Moreover, the provider is quite open about its service terms and conditions on its website. However, since AT&T has to make itself marketable like every other provider so it offers promotional prices and highlights benefits of its services in big bold letters, it keeps other terms, conditions, and the second year pricing at the forefront too in fine print. In fact, AT&T necessitates its affiliate sites to mention all their legal disclaimers in the fine print with every feature they market. That’s why the provider ranks number one in customer satisfaction over all major providers. It even has a legal disclaimer for that, which says, “Compared to the publicly measured internet service providers in the ACSI. Claim based on the 2020 ACSI survey of customers rating their own internet service provider’s performance.”
Other ISPs in the U.S should take a leaf from the AT&T’s customer service strategy, and aim to improve their customer service so once the contract is up, a customer doesn’t run to another provider. Plus, those good reviews will surely help the company’s reputation and help it get more customers.
Complaints Are Significant Tell-Tale Signs
The big shot ISPs may think that pitiful customer experience cannot hurt their dominance in the market, then they must rethink that fallacious assessment. Previously, there were very few provider alternatives to residents and some still have limited choices, but it is fast changing as smaller ISPs are popping up all over the country. There are currently 2660 ISPs in the U.S. with a range of service types such as DSL, copper, cable, fiber-optic, fixed wireless, and mobile broadband. Even satellite service has a competition with four satellite internet providers in the U.S.
Most smaller providers aim to offer better service experience with exceedingly enticing offers, and they take their customer service seriously so they can have a long-term relationship with their customers. Therefore, it won’t be long before bigger ISPs lose their customers to smaller and flexible ones.
So they must act fast and foster a longer-term amicable customer relationship by paying attention to their customer complaints. How they handle those complaints can make a world of difference between success and failure in the increasingly competitive ISP world. According to a study, 87% of customers opt for a product from a company that boasts a better reputation. Those complaints possess a plethora of tell-tale opportunities to improve their service over a wide range of issues.
How to Devise a System that Handles Complaints Effectively?
An internet service provider can convert complaints into golden opportunities, and foster the goodwill of their customers and enhance their reputation by setting up a robust complaint management system. Here is how:
- Adequately balance budget for marketing and customer experience.
- Invest in their customer support staff as most ISPs or third party businesses deem the staff as dispensable. Offer them good opportunities and train them about every aspect of their service and its terms.
- Calculate the return on investment on the entire process.
- Train their staff to document complaints diligently, and view those complaints as feedback to improve, and assess what opportunities can arise from those.
- Set up a complaint monitoring system that electronically records customer complaints and analyzes those to extract proper conclusions.
- Send complaint records to the relevant department so they can fix the root of the issue and do so quickly.
- Stay in contact with customers, and follow up on their feedback over issue handling. If still they aren’t satisfied, offer alternatives or special promotions.
- Track your repeat customers and their referrals, and determine what prompted repeat purchase and implement it.
A Customer Holds a Lifetime Value
If ISPs want to offer good customer service, they must change the conversations in their head and consider a customer’s lifetime value, not the temporary one for the contractual period. ISPs will realize that it will benefit them more to retain their customers, rather than looking for new ones. Smart budget allocation for customer service and proper strategies in place can make a world of positive difference for ISPs and customers both.