The complaints that customers have when it comes to MTN Zambia’s customer care are in one word, overwhelming. Personally, I have been on hold for over 11 minutes before while promotional jingles play on their customer service line and had to hang up because hey, it was 11 minutes of my time wasted already.
Anyway, in a bid to improve their service, they have decided on a partnership with Tech Mahindra, the same company that manages Airtel’s customer care, to provide the same service to them.
Abdul Ismail, MTN Zambia’s Chief Executive Officer, said that Tech Mahindra will set up a Customer Support Unit specifically for MTN Zambia customers. This we assume will mean that the existing customer care agents with MTN will now transfer to Tech Mahindra under a similar agreement to that established with Airtel. No job losses here we expect?
What does this mean for Airtel?
Firstly, if the same people are doing the same thing for you and your competition, the competition changes to internal conflict. It now becomes about who can do a better job with the same resources, resources being Tech Mahindra’s lessons and skills given to employees of both Telecoms companies. Here we will assume that there are two separate teams handling each brand. The common denominator being Tech Mahindra and the numerator being former employees of both MNO’s and the new blood of fresh agents trained up by Tech Mahindra.
What does this mean for MTN?
Hopefully, better customer service, especially when it come to their call centre operations. The more responsive a customer service centre is, the more appreciated customers feel whenever they have a query, and trust me, telecoms companies in Zambia need to give answers for some of the products and services they give out. This will also allow MTN to focus on its core business and allow the customer care to be handled by seasoned experts in the business. The cost of running a call centre will also come down not only from a financial perspective but also the human resource capacity such an operation demands. By focusing on its core business MTN can and will reduce the number of complaints going to the call centre hence pay less for a better service!
What makes a great Customer Service Centre anyway?
Firstly, it must have agents who are patient enough to deal with customers. We understand most call centre agents are in a hurry to beat their target minute (which is 80 seconds for MTN Zambia) but agents also need to understand their various products and services and break them down into the simplest terms that can be explained in under those 80 seconds, without having to refer the customer to a walk-in service centre. The objective is to get first time resolution of the problem.
Secondly, a walk-in customer service centre must have the friendliest team ever. Nothing beats a warm and fuzzy feeling when you walk into a place, wanting to inquire about something. It makes clients feel at ease within the first minute.
Thirdly, response time has to be shortened. Obviously with a communications expert like Tech Mahindra, there are rules on how long an agent can respond to a query, in the shortest possible time. There has to be a well-informed team who know their products/services inside out and can give the quickest and clearest response to a consumer. Further Tech Mahindra are experts in managing agents and know what is required in an agent as well as monitoring performance.
The fourth and most overlooked point is whether the agents are being paid their worth? Being in a call centre can not be easy. You have to suppress any feelings of frustration and anger that a ‘difficult’ client stirs within you, all day throughout your shift. So, is the salary equal to that kind of stress? The salary should be motivation enough to pick up those calls.
Lastly, and most importantly, is the customer satisfied? Did your answer clear the air? Will they need additional information, or do they have to really go to a walk-in service centre for their problem? If it can’t be handled by phone,and only if it genuinely can’t, transfer their query by letting them go to a customer service centre branch.
In the end, this is just another client for Tech Mahindra. They don’t need to favor one mobile operator over the other, all they’re doing is their job. They will impart the same skills training to the MTN employees as they do to Airtel’s, but the execution will depend on the management teams and agents themselves.
The current MTN call centre team doesn’t have to worry about their positions by the way. MTN Zambia intends to keep them, and add extra staff if needed.
However, if they can’t do it the traditional way, by phone, there’s always the social media platforms. Almost everyone is on social media, and it’s a faster way of transmitting the same information to the public at one go, cutting down your calls and eventually,costs.
There is also a self-care USSD platform on MTN Zambia’s website that allows customers to create a password protected account and view their account information regarding their MTN number. It may help help curb the need to call into the service centre at all.