How regional service providers can maintain competitive tech support

As a regional service provider, you take pride in serving your local community. You’re on a mission to grow your business while providing the same high-quality service your customers know and love.

Yet, you’re worried about meeting your new customer acquisition goals. After all, you don’t have the same brand recognition as nationwide providers. Here’s the good news: as a small business, you may have an edge over other companies. 

Below, we go over the opportunity for competitive advantage for regional service providers and how to scale your tech support without compromising quality.  

The competitive advantage for regional service providers

While it might seem counterintuitive, regional telecom and internet service providers actually have several competitive advantages compared to other providers. These key differences can be powerful in influencing the purchasing decisions of potential customers. Below are a few ways regional service providers stand out from competitors. 

Customers prefer small businesses

According to a survey by Dimensional Research, 91% of customers prefer to shop with small businesses. The top reasons for customers choosing small businesses include easily establishing relationships with providers and convenience. 

Sometimes,  the reason people choose a small service provider is quite simple. The same survey found that 65% of customers support small service providers because it makes them feel good. Consumers are committed to supporting the local businesses that make up their communities. 

Local service providers have better customer service

Many people prefer local providers to national competitors because they can provide better customer service. In fact, 73% of customers say small businesses provide better customer service than national competitors. 

This is because local companies have a smaller customer base, and often use local support agents, versus outsourcing support overseas. Prioritizing quality customer service can have a major impact on the business's bottom line. 77% of customers don’t mind paying more for services if they receive excellent customer service. 

As more companies jump into the broadband and telecom markets, customer service is a crucial way for small providers to stand out from their competitors. 

Affordable prices for customers

Nationwide providers have sometimes been the only available option for some regions, which has sometimes led to high monthly costs and surprise fees. With the rise of small, regional providers, customers  can access broadband and telecom services for an affordable price. 

However, this doesn’t mean customers have to sacrifice the quality of coverage or customer service. Many local companies provide the same level of coverage to their customers at a lower cost. 

Why regional service providers should prioritize tech support

The data shows that, for small broadband and telecom providers, excellent tech support is vital for maintaining an edge over larger competitors. Prioritizing customer support helps both your customers and your bottom line. 

Small providers that focus on improving tech support enjoy benefits such as:

Read about how Wisconsin-based wireless provider Cellcom uses Ozmo to improve agent performance and provide high-quality customer support

Common tech support challenges for regional service providers

Did you know that 96% of customers will leave you due to bad customer service? The stakes for poor tech support are too high to ignore. Below, we go over the most common tech support challenges for local broadband and telecom providers. 

Responding to customer communications in a timely manner

83% of customers who reach out to a business expect to engage with someone right away. However, this can be difficult if you’re a local provider with limited staff.

Increased demand for broadband internet or 5G-powered phones, while good for business, leads to an increase in tech support requests. If businesses are unable to provide customers with the information they need quickly, the company could end up losing them to a competitor.

High agent turnover rates

Many companies are losing employees to the Great Resignation, and telecom and broadband providers are no exception. Employee turnover rates are particularly high for contact center agents. A report by Cresta found that the average turnover rate for contact center agents is more than 87%.

Agent retention is vital for small businesses. Being understaffed can lead to longer contact center wait times for customers. It’s also expensive to hire new employees. Studies show the cost of replacing an employee is nearly twice their salary.

No self-serve options

When it comes to tech support, it’s vital to meet customers where they’re at. With nine out of 10 customers willing to leave due to bad customer service, providing support via customers’ preferred channels is vital. 

These days, many customers (especially millennials and Gen Z) prefer to resolve their tech issues on their own. This is especially true for customers of regional broadband or telecom service providers. 86% of customers who use local providers will look for self-service options versus speaking to a contact center agent. 

How local service providers can improve tech support

Providing top-notch tech support is what will give your company a competitive edge. Below, we share a few ways your company can provide a better tech support experience.

Get back to customers in a timely manner

To retain customers, it’s crucial to respond to their tech support requests within a reasonable time frame. According to a recent survey, 46% of customers expect to hear from a company within four hours. In that same survey, 62% of customers said that companies didn’t respond to email requests for customer service.

To minimize customers’ frustrations, it’s important to manage their expectations. How soon can they expect to hear from an agent? If they need immediate answers, guide customers to options like self-service. Additionally, set up procedures so agents know how soon to answer customer inquiries.

Provide self-serve options

One way to deflect the surge in tech support calls is to use a self-serve customer service solution. The majority of local broadband or telecom customers prefer self-service. However, a good self-serve solution is more than an FAQ page or lengthy online manual. It uses interactive tutorials or formats optimized for learning. 

Self-service benefits your business in numerous ways. The right self-serve solution can help your company:

Most customers believe local service providers have better customer service than nationally-recognized brands. Therefore, the quality of your tech support is key to differentiating yourself from competitors. Investing in a self-serve solution is vital to scale to provide the support customers need. 

Create an effective agent onboarding program

Your contact center agent onboarding program is critical to employee retention. Contact center agents who don’t have a positive onboarding experience are twice as likely to start searching for a new job. The expense of employee turnover can add up quickly and make it difficult to provide the quality tech support your customers need.

To create a more effective agent onboarding program, start by setting clear goals to help agents understand your expectations. Be sure to provide contact center agents with actionable feedback so they can make improvements to their performance. You may also want to consider creating a mentorship program to help new agents navigate the workplace. 

Implement effective tools for agents

Traditionally, many contact center agents have relied on outdated manuals and a library of physical devices to help customers navigate technical issues. However, customers are constantly updating the software on their devices, or there may be multiple versions of the same app or device. 

This can lead to agents relying on training manuals that no longer have relevant information. Agents may be forced to turn to online forums, where the reliability of answers is shaky at best. In turn, customers may experience longer call wait times and your business may see a decrease in first-call resolution rates.

Tools like virtual devices can help agents stay up to date on the latest soΩtware, apps, phones or tablets. Virtual devices have the same functionality as physical ones, and allow agents to navigate between multiple versions of that same software or device. This lets agents provide more tailored tech support to customers and eliminates the cost of maintaining physical devices for each agent. 

Provide the quality tech support your customers deserve

As a small telecom or broadband provider, your customers aren’t just another number. They’re your neighbors and friends. You’re deeply committed to providing the high-quality service they deserve.

While many customers believe small businesses provide better customer service, maintaining that level of support can be challenging as your customer base expands. However, by focusing on communicating with customers in a timely manner, providing self-serve options and ensuring agents have the tools they need, you can grow your business without compromising the quality of your tech support.

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Are you a regional service provider trying to quickly scale your tech support? Ozmo’s omnichannel solutions are trusted by brands such as Cellcom, Nex-Tech Wireless and more. Learn more about the future of tech support today!