Adrian Chung, director of the technology, media and telecom practice at J.D. Power in Canada.
What are the key results and findings you can take from a recent wireless experience survey you did?
Chung: In this year’s edition of the J.D. Power Wireless Purchase Experience study, we saw a decline in overall satisfaction of six index points. This change was driven more by cost, likely influenced by recent carrier price increases, rather than experiences in the various sales channels.
The study also found that carrier stores continue to be the preferred channel both in terms of usage and satisfaction. A shift to online is generally less prevalent here except for equipment purchases where Amazon is the destination of choice.
Finally, in-store communication and engagement are key. For example, providing customers with plan features and pricing that’s easy to understand can a go a long way in instilling trust. The ability for sales reps to match customer needs and set expectations will leave a positive impression of both the store itself and the overall carrier brand.
How important is the level of trust for a consumer in a brand?
Chung: Trust is extremely important. For some products or services, there are lots of choices and others there are not. Either way, as consumers we want to feel that we’ve made the right decision and that’s often reflected in whether we feel a strong degree of trust with a brand after the fact.
Wireless carriers have opportunities to build trust in several different ways. For example, within stores through the service and support provided, in the media through brand promises or via customer service channels when discussing billing or plan details. Each of these interactions needs to provide consumers with clarity and instil confidence that the company/brand is looking out for them.
Ultimately, we find trust impacts levels of loyalty, intent to repurchase and the likelihood to recommend a brand. All of which are metrics that carriers and other companies should be watching very closely as measures of success and brand health.
What role do bricks and mortar stores play in developing the level of trust by a consumer?
Chung: This may come as a surprise to many, but most transactions, whether new activations, plan changes or other, do take place in-store.
While this face-to-face interaction certainly provides the opportunity to develop trust, it can be very challenging. Today, the typical consumer has already done a fair amount of research prior to making the visit. Part of their mindset or plan going in may also be based on an offering or promotion they’ve seen.
As you can imagine, frustration can quickly set in if the rep isn’t familiar with the same promotion or deal, if it isn’t something offered in the store or any other possible disconnect. This most definitely will lead customers to feel they are being deceived by the carrier. Obviously, this is not the impression that carriers wish to make and the opposite of building trust.
Why does Koodo continue to lead the rankings?
Chung: Consistency. Much like many other J.D. Power award winners, Koodo continues to demonstrate consistent performance. By that I mean they have consistent results across all of the areas measured, i.e. across sales channels, cost of service and offerings and promotions.
Also, they continue to deliver that experience over time; this is the third consecutive year in which they’ve been ranked highest. From inception, Koodo has had a very loyal following from their customers and has continued to develop their strong brand reputation over the years. This ability to connect with their customers is very powerful and has nicely complemented their operational strengths.
What are the key things consumers are looking for from a carrier?
Chung: Well that’s not an easy question. Fair or unfair, consumers have high expectations. If we break it down, the overall expectation is centred around network quality and reliability at a fair price. In other words, it’s the service or product that means the most to consumers.
However, in the context of this particular study, which focuses on the purchase experience, we find communication to be critical and more specifically transparency. Customer satisfaction is much higher when consumers receive a clear explanation about the components of their bill, features of their plan, device operations, etc.
Store reps need to resist the urge to gloss over certain details even though customers may indicate they “don’t need the tutorial.” Missing this opportunity to set expectations is likely to diminish trust and breed dissatisfaction especially if it leads to a quick return visit or customer service contact.
– Mario Toneguzzi for Calgary’s Business