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TNS: Strong Customer Service is key growth for Malaysia Telcos

Market research firm, TNS released the findings from ‘Cracking the Customer Code – Telco’ a study into the attitudes of mobile network customers in Malaysia, revealing that providing stronger customer service could win over new users and secure existing ones.

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TNS Malaysia conducted a study of 500 mobile phone subscribers in June 2014 to understand the elements of customer service that really matter to people.

The study found that only (41%) feel their mobile network operator (MNO) is performing well and a quarter are likely to switch provider because of this. More than 10 million mobile subscriptions in Malaysia are at risk.

In a market with a mobile penetration rate of 143.6%, equivalent to 43 million mobile subscriptions, TNS said this “under performance” is putting MNO subscriptions at significant risk. With the mobile playing such an important role in the lives of Malaysians, who spend 2.7 hours a day with their phone in their hand , it’s essential that the MNOs get their service right, if they are to retain their customers and grow revenue.

The reasons for this negative sentiment amongst customers highlight that MNOs are still struggling to get the basics right and include: waiting for customer service (25%); poor connection quality (14%); and poor customer service when they do receive it (8%).

“We’re seeing real indifference and latent dissatisfaction from customers towards their MNO,” said Graham Tocher, Managing Director APAC, Customer Experience, TNS. He continues, “In an environment where many providers are failing to get the basics right, there’s a real opportunity for those MNOs who can consistently deliver what matters most to their customers – when it matters.”

These service failures can have even greater impact when they lead to negative word of mouth. The TNS study found that 45% of Malaysians have spoken negatively to others about their MNO in the past six months. And in a country where 29% of Internet users write about brands online , this negative word-of-mouth could lead to a significant reputational impact.

Graham told MalaysianWireless that “Customers expect the mobile operators to be with them 24/7”. He added that the Telco should focus at their target market and understand customers as individuals. “You can’t buy loyalty”, he said.

Despite this grumbling, the majority of customers are planning to stay with their current provider (53%). This inertia is due to people feeling the situation will not be better elsewhere – half of Malaysian mobile network customers feel that all brands in the market offer more or less the same pricing and services, whilst 55% feel that switching would simply be too inconvenient.

Graham comments, “Good customer service – knowledgeable, friendly and efficient – is key to securing preference with all customers in this sector and there are gains to be made for those providers that can really deliver this. Even getting the basics right could offer strong differentiation in Malaysia.”

There is some good news for Mobile network Operators – those customers that spend the most have the strongest relationship. Gen Y customers (18-24 year olds) also have a strong relationship with their service provider.

Graham concludes, “Where MNOs have built and delivered a targeted customer experience, it is paying off in increased returns. Scaling this approach across more customer segments presents a strong opportunity for those that can successfully implement it.”

[Download PDF]– Infographic: TNS  “Cracking the Customer Code – Telco”

About Kugan

Kugan is the founder of MalaysianWireless. He has been observing the mobile industry since 2003. Connect with him on Twitter: @scamboy