Globally, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), big or small, are at the cusp of innovation with the arrival of fibre and 5G technologies. They are meant to create fast and seamless data connections to billions of connected users worldwide. While this transformation is an exciting one for the industry, ISPs are also struggling to grow (Average revenue per user) ARPU and (Average Revenue per Account) ARPA due to various macro factors such as high competition and market saturation.
As the industry nears saturation, it is time to look inwards and focus on customer retention by improving the customer support experience.
Challenges in improving the customer support experience
The primary responsibility of delivering customer service lies with the tech support teams and agents who interact with millions of subscribers every day. They are crucial in retaining existing customers and in some organizations, contribute to the overall growth of the ISP by generating upsells and/or cross-sells.
Unfortunately, internet-related issues like slow speeds and buffering video are often so difficult for support agents to diagnose and solve, that they continue to degrade the customer support experience despite ISPs’ best efforts.
1. Complex network diagnostics
To equip and train agents with proper support tools, ISPs invest heavily in CPE or TR069 based diagnostics solutions or even build their own custom diagnostics solutions with the help of IT teams. However, these solutions are either too complex for the average support agent to understand or too simple to provide the necessary diagnostic data to actually assist with solving internet-related issues.
2. Fragmented diagnostic support coverage
Furthermore, subscriber coverage is frequently incomplete, often because of long CPE upgrade cycles and the growing trend of subscribers providing their own routers.
Due to the underlying drawbacks with CPE-based diagnostics, it is impossible to attain full visibility into customers’ home networks across the entire customer base. Even established and large ISPs worldwide are able to reach only 60-70% of their subscribers.
This means agents can’t get the necessary diagnostics to assist a significant portion of the customer base, resulting in a poor customer experience for many. And even helping the 60-70% of customers who are covered can be quite difficult for agents.
3. Agent on boarding and troubleshooting experience
On average, a large ISP deploys anywhere between 3,000 to 4,000 router models to cover a fraction of its subscriber base. This means agents have to navigate multiple excel sheets and dashboards before diagnosing a single home network issue. This can be confusing and time-consuming for any agent but is especially daunting for inexperienced tier-1 agents and less tech-savvy personnel.
While most agents are trained to use these systems during the on boarding process, becoming an expert on any platform takes time and practice. However, the high turnover rate in ISP support teams means a significant portion of agents will be novices at any given time and the support experience for most customers will continue to be subpar.
4. Higher customer expectations
The increased number of connected devices in homes coupled with inefficient support tools and inexperienced agents means support teams have a hard time determining the root cause of network issues and offering accurate resolutions to customers in a timely manner.
However, consumers today expect support teams to solve their issues quickly and accurately, ideally on the first call. Furthermore, when support teams eventually identify a possible cause, subscribers expect to be given proof that the issue is indeed within their homes and not the company’s network or products.
Unfortunately, technical support teams are still engaging in traditional Q&A with customers to find something as basic as router make and model and often do not have any tangible proof to back up their claims. This is not only frustrating and ineffective but leads to poor customer support experience and eventually customer churn.
5. Lack of support for self-help
Self-Help is not just a buzzword anymore and yet it is far from reality when it comes to dealing with internet-related issues. Along with fast response times and knowledgeable staff, self-service tools are quickly becoming one of the most important attributes of the customer experience. But, while ISPs and smart home companies have long since been able to provide self-service for billing and account management, they are unable to deploy self-help based solutions for home-network related issues due to poor network diagnostics, lack of internal support and motivation, and higher cost of development.
6. Executive oversight
We now know that simplifying the troubleshooting process for home network-related issues and meeting customer expectations is crucial in improving the customer support experience which is one of the primary contributors to customer retention. To accomplish this, support teams should be able to support and have diagnostic visibility into the full subscriber base which seems to be impossible with hardware-based deployment.
But executives that oversee support teams place emphasis on hardware-based network diagnostics (like TR-069) that do little to improve the agent and customer troubleshooting experiences. ISPs need to focus on ease-of-use of diagnostic tools, reducing the internal technical knowledge gap and improving resolution accuracy.
Looking beyond diagnostics
1. Improving the agent troubleshooting experience and accuracy of resolutions
Agents need a solution that unifies both diagnostics and step-by-step workflows under a single dashboard. Also, this solution needs to be able to help tier-1 agents to resolve common network issues with confidence without relying on information from customers or escalating issues to more technical team members.
RouteThis offers customizable automated workflows that enable agents, regardless of their technical skill level, to resolve network issues with confidence, resulting in faster triage and higher customer satisfaction. Unlike existing solutions, RouteThis leverages real-time home network diagnostics to suggest optimal resolution paths that evolve and learn over time.
Check RouteThis Workflows View for more details.
2. 100% diagnostic support coverage
There is an urgent need for a software-based diagnostics solution that is hardware independent and CPE agnostic to be able to fully reach the entire subscriber base. This enables support organizations to access their customer home networks and troubleshoot issues without going back-and-forth with customers to collect the necessary technical information.
RouteThis offers 100% subscriber coverage in as little as four weeks with zero dependence on hardware or firmware upgrades. This not only allows you to support your entire subscriber base but also gives agents reliable, consistent insights into the home network’s issues, regardless of networking equipment.
See How RouteThis enables ISPs to achieve 100% diagnostic support coverage.
3. Letting your customers self-diagnose (Self Help solution)
Customers are more empowered than ever before and willing to diagnose common network issues such as slow connections or video buffering issues by themselves. But due to the complexity of traditional diagnostics tools, there has been no easy path for ISPs to provide self-service resources to their customers for these technical problems.
RouteThis Self-Help is designed to simplify the customer support experience for customers by eliminating the need to call into support. It scans customers’ home networks, identifies and analyzes potential networking issues, and gives users simple, step-by-step instructions on how to restore their internet connection. This means customers can quickly resolve these issues and support teams can reduce costs and improve the support experience.