Last week, I had the immense pleasure of visiting one of Telenor’s customer service centers and their head office in Pakistan. I had a first-hand experience of how they deal with customer complaints to resolve them and what is done at the backend to make that possible. Telenor is the second largest mobile operator with a footprint spanning throughout the country, covering about 80% of Pakistan. They have a subscriber base of over 43 million who are all connected by 11,300 network towers.
Telenor’s entire focus is around their actual user, the consumer. Rather than pushing out features that customers will have to use, they have developed and worked towards offering customers a wide variety of services that they can choose to use or not.
Just two years back, Telenor used to get about 100,000 phone calls to their custom support centers every day. This number has been reduced to about 30,000 calls per day. That is a big feat for a mobile operator that has been constantly introducing new services and improving their existing ones at the same time.
Customer’s Complaint Journey
Telenor has advance system checks for accuracy of complaint handling. Most of the primary fixtures are available at the frontend of the customer support agent, and as a follow up, Telenor connects with the customer during the complaint journey with SMS and call backs. Escalation of a complaint is only required with certain special complaints.
The customer support team has provided several ways for the customer to connect with them:
- My Telenor App
- Telenor Self Service booths (explained later below)
- Call Center (explained below)
- Hundreds of franchises & retailers all across the country
- Social Media Engagement
On average 90% customer complaints are resolved within the communicated Turn Around Time (TAT) and rest are resolved with additional TAT – making Telenor’s success ratio to 98%.
Social Media Engagement
Telenor engages with its customers on all social media channels and tries to understand each and every customer query, so that instant resolution can be provided.
Here are some points which reflect that with time the digital teams at Telenor have improved on how they listen to customers and solve their issues instantly:
- +200% increased engagement on Telenor Sacha Yar in the month of March till November. Telenor Sacha Yar is a Facebook group for retailers where retailers from across Pakistan share their issues and complaints. Successful and interactive fortnightly live sessions on Telenor Sacha Yar are conducted, in order to hear the voice of the retailers.
- No.1 Facebook brand in terms of interactions (September).
- Socially Devoted award due to active social listening in Q2 & Q3 went to Telenor Pakistan, which is directly aligned with our shout that Telenor Hears You!
Telenor Self Service Booth
Since Telenor service centers were shut down in 2017, they started working towards a new pilot project of introducing self-service booths for customers. These booths started out as a pilot in 2018 and are now widely rolling out.
The booths are deployed in 9 cities and Telenor aspires to roll out these booths nationwide by the end of 2019. This is a one stop shop and an accessible solution for all customers’ retailer and franchise needs. You will be able to soon spot one of these booths at malls, hospitals etc. They offer the following services to Telenor customers:
- Buy Telenor 4G SIM
- Sim replacement
- Easy card and easy load
- Open mobile wallet account
- Send & receive money via Easypaisa
- Pay utility bills
- And new features are added over time
Telenor Service Center
The first part of our tour was a visit to one of Telenor’s Service Centers. This facility handles all the customer service phone calls for Telenor. In this particular center, they had employed over 150 employees working in about 5 different shifts and were divided into teams for different Telenor services i.e. Easypaisa, Djuice etc.
Generally, everyone thinks that all these customer support helplines must be full of network or 4G issues. However, the Telenor reps shared an interesting fact around this. Customer complains around network issues are roughly 10% of the time. And in most cases, customers call to set different Smart Tunes. “Telenor SmartTunes lets your friends and family listen to your favorite tune every time they call you.”
Eliminating Customer Pain Points, Providing Speedy Response:
Customer pain point resolution is Telenor’s primary objective. They have in the past significantly reduced their call volume by solving different customer pain areas.
42% prepaid queries call volume reduction vs Year ago & 61% postpaid queries call volume reduction vs Year ago because of speedy customer complaint resolution.
Here is a list of some prominent customer pain points which were recently resolved after lots of complains from the customers:
- Resource Accumulation: Easycard resources were not being accumulated upon re-subscribing through a different channel (i.e. M-wallet, Retailer menu, Scratch card, TSSB). A lot of complaints were received from the customers who were annoyed & this issue impacted in customer complaints & inconvenience which has been resolved for Easycard 170 and Easycard 350.
- Network issues: As an initiative taken by Customer Care Department, 9 Batches of chronic Sites with 435 Sites in total are fixed for customer’s network issues and 71% complaints have been dropped. Further, SWAP Sites fixtures are also in place with 603 Sites resolved for customer network issues and fixture time period has been improved from 27% to 91% which is parallel to speedily resolving customer pain areas. Millions of customers who faced network related issues and complained about poor network quality now enjoy best services in their respective localities. With 64% increase in turnaround time Telenor has reached a new level of speedy customer query resolutions.
- Bill Shock: Introduction of spill charges where PAYG rate was reduced from Rs.12/MB to Rs1/MB. (Customers utilizing their MBs before the validity date will not be charged default rates and they will only be charged 1 Rs/MB. Earlier, those customers who utilized their MBs prior to the validity date used to be charged the default 12Rs/MB rate till the expiry of the validity date for the remaining days).
As part of this visit, we also experienced something called “Call Shadowing”. This is where you can listen to customers calling the Telenor Customer Care helpline for problems and you can listen to a customer care agent help out the customer with step by step instructions.
The first couple of calls I heard were of people who had locked their feature phones and wanted to find out their PUK codes from Telenor. The agent had all the customer’s information displayed on the screen and instructed them on the phone on how and where to enter the PUK code details to unlock their phones.
All these agents had access to a full knowledge base (help portal) with instructions on various topics. On each call, the agent would quickly search the portal and reply back with the necessary instructions – or in case of a plan, package or subscription change, would do it directly from his panel.
This was all so interesting for a first timer who had never been to a call center. My only observation in all this was that these agents should also have access to the ‘age’ data of the customer who is calling so they can better assist based on the person calling is young or a senior one.
Telenor HQ – 345
Next part of our trip was the visit to Telenor head office, called 345, located in the outskirts of Islamabad. This campus is an architectural marvel that has won a number of awards.
Network Operations Center:
To start the tour, we were first given a brief introduction about the campus and then taken to their Network Operations Center (NOC). This is a state-of-the-art facility to manage their network operations efficiently and is informally called as the brain of Telenor.
This is where all the monitoring takes place of the entire network. The on-duty team keeps a look out for any problems with any of the cell towers or with the overall network. We were shown real-time graphs and stats for Telenor’s USSD codes, network uplinks and other response time stats for 2G, 3G and 4G networks.
The entire cellular network is so robust that Telenor has redundancies built for all of the cellular and network towers. In case of optic fiber cut or any unforeseen situation, a team is available 24/7 to route the network traffic to alternate routes. There are built-in alerts, alarms and notifications for when something is wrong or about to fail at a network site or a service.
In my brief observation, I was able to spot their panel with real-time data of Internet usage on Telenor’s network. This data included the type of video content users are consuming, video sources etc. I also spotted that YouTube had a much, much higher bandwidth consumption than Dailymotion – obviously.
The rapid technology advancements require regular network up-gradation and that’s where Telenor ensure to manage such transition efficiently in order to avoid hurting customer experience.
Network Operation Center is comprised of various departments including support and field related teams:
- They observe keenly for all major/minor alarms which are triggered on a serving site
- For the first time in Pakistan, Telenor is the only telecom who has upgraded its network from 4G to 4.5G
- They constantly upgrade their systems to provide best services to customers.
- They gather feedback given by customers and consider them in their upcoming initiative plans.
Discussion with CTO, Telenor
At the end of the tour, we had a chat with Khurrum Ashfaque, Chief Technical Officer at Telenor Pakistan. He discussed how Telenor Pakistan has been rapidly evolving and innovating at its core to offer more services to their customers. They recently partnered up with Nokia Technologies to upgrade their network. They will be moving from reactive fault based system to a proactive system.
These tools use AI and robotics, alongside the networking tools use big data to help fix outages easily. A lot of these tools have been brought in from their customer service / client side to network operations side.
In addition to all this, Telenor Pakistan now has a full in-house software development team who are working on various projects and services. These services include, My Telenor mobile app, WowBox etc. Some of these are built by the in-house teams and some by Telenor’s external partners.
All in all, the entire trip showed how Telenor is always working for its customers. Their commitment and dedication in providing the best in class support and services was truly amazing to see ourselves.