When it comes to measuring customer satisfaction, telecom operators generally score favorably. However a new report from Ericsson ConsumerLab suggests the tide is turning, as more consumers grow to expect what is known as the "one-click" customer experience – that is, the ideal of a frictionless customer journey in which buying online is simple and easy.
The hassle-free online experience, which is exemplified by innovative brands such as Amazon and Netflix, makes life easier for consumers and saves them time. But the one-click ideal also serves as a wake-up call to operators, says Pernilla Jonsson, consumer insight expert with Ericsson ConsumerLab, who is author of the report The One-Click Ideal – Challenging expectations for operators on the digital customer journey – based on a study undertaken in urban China and US.
“In this study, consumers expressed that they had lower expectations of their operators than they had of other top-of-mind digital brands,” Jonsson says. “Operators should regard this as a challenge – and an opportunity – to use the possibilities opened up by digitalization to build a truly differentiated brand experience.”
A majority of consumers indicated that the ideal digital customer journey involves a synchronized mix of online and offline channels. In comparison with best-in-class brands identified by these consumers, operators fell short of consumers’ expectations in their judgment of the digital customer journey.
Respondents were asked to list the best-in-class brands in the creation of digital experiences – such as Amazon, Netflix and Alipay – and to compare these with operators. All of these brands were rated more highly than operators, clearly outperforming them in answer to questions about whether they make life easier, provide an easy and hassle-free experience, and offer the best online experience.
The report says less than half of the respondents in both markets associated their current operator with the main factors contributing to brand satisfaction: a one-click experience, excellent customer service and proactivity.
On the other hand, most agreed that better online tools would improve their view of their operator. But Jonsson says availability of digital tools is no longer enough. “Consumer expectations have transitioned from digital availability to how digitalization creates value for them,” she says.
“The one-click ideal challenges operators to think differently. To fulfill this vision, an operator has to orchestrate and synchronize between organizational barriers within the whole organization.
“We’re moving into a time where brands are competing with each other across industries. Unless operators can occupy a piece of the consumer’s mind, they won’t be considered the type of brand someone wants to pay a premium for,” she says
The findings also underscore the need to reinvent the roles of various touch-points in the customer journey – including customer support and account management –, whether users are online or off.
About the report
Ericsson ConsumerLab worked with four focus groups comprising participants with a high level of experience in online shopping. The focus groups were located in the US and China.
Online interviews were held with 2,015 smartphone owners in the US and China. The study represents 290 million smartphone users in both markets. Of these, the sample in the US represents 134 million consumers aged 18-65, while the sample in China represents 156 million urban consumers aged 18-55.
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