Customer-centric Approach sees Frogfoot Extend Support to Individual Users

In a first, Frogfoot Networks, a licensed open access fibre network provider, has invested in a Customer Experience Department aimed at helping end users on the network with their challenges. By working closely with Internet Service Providers (ISPs), the ultimate aim is for individual customers to have to put as little effort as possible when it comes to solving their connectivity problems.

“Frogfoot did not have a presence when it came to servicing the end-customer; what we had was a Network Operations Centre (NOC) aimed at servicing the ISPs on our network. This initiative gives end users the ability to directly contact us across various platforms, where we assist them where we can, or get the relevant ISP involved to ensure resolution. This is not something that Frogfoot had to do, but believe that as a customer-centric organisation, supporting the end user is the right thing to do. Every customer counts for us,” says Dheeraj Gowrie, Executive for Service Assurance at Frogfoot Networks.

Gowrie says that ISPs have traditionally been tasked with providing customer service, and that this is an expensive undertaking, with providers having to hire people, support them with the necessary systems and more. This partnership approach to customer service will bolster the ISPs service capabilities and ensure that the volumes of queries across multiple channels can be addressed. This is especially useful for smaller, niche ISPs as it helps them to extend their support to end customers.

To get this right Frogfoot Networks created the Customer Experience Department, which comprises the following three pillars:

• Customer services – employees here attend to voice calls, respond to emails and coordinate queries between customers and relevant ISPs. Members from this team have established key contacts within the support departments of Frogfoot’s 15 biggest ISPs, and they also have monthly meetings with these ISPs around service and customer experience.
• Social media – this team is responsible for monitoring social media across several channels including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, MyBroadband, Hello Peter and the company’s Google My Business ratings and reviews. Active intervention by members of this team has seen an improvement in online sentiment, with a growing number of compliments as well for the company.
• Customer Experience – here, customer experience specialists are taking a critical look at the customer’s end-to-end journey with the Frogfoot brand. This ranges from signing up, to using services, dealing with ISPs and getting support across multiple departments. These processes are journey mapped in order to identify areas for improvement, after which the team works with relevant departments in order to implement. Ultimately, customers don’t care which department or team they interact with; if they have a bad experience it impacts the brand overall, and this needs to be addressed.

Gowrie says that a major challenge that previously existed was that support staff had to work with 7 or 8 different systems – ticketing tools, calling tools, network monitoring tools, ISP logging tools – all of which led to slower service to customers and longer queues of those waiting to be serviced. Switching to a modern CRM system meant that there is now a single interface that brings together all of these tools, which together with improved processes have made customer service staff far more efficient and cut down turnaround times.

“This has also integrated all of our communications channels, be it voice, email or social media. In this way, regardless of which channel the customer uses, their interactions are presented to our agents in a unified view and are treated with the same urgency. The system further provides customer service staff with a history of past engagements across channels so that they are empowered to deal with the customer and their query,” says Gowrie.

He adds that the new system allows for the creation of dashboards that can be shared with ISPs so that they can also monitor the status of queries from their customers, while Open APIs can be used to enable seamless integration between the ticketing systems of Frogfoot and its ISP partners.

In the near future, Gowrie says that the company is looking to add its presence to instant messaging channels, such as WhatsApp, where real-time messages can be used to broadcast outages and provide live updates, meaning that customers don’t have to contact Frogfoot or the ISP first to find out what is happening. In preparation, the company is working to ensure that its internal processes are mature enough to start adding more communications channels.

“Looking further ahead, we are also looking at technology such as chatbots and automation, but we need to keep in mind that as much as this might work well in developed markets, South Africans prefer the ‘human touch’. Our people want to interact with fellow human beings, especially when they have a problem that needs to be solved. Bots, on the other hand, lack the empathy that local customers are looking for and this needs to be taken into account. Yes, there is brilliant technology out there, but will it work in the South African context? So for now, bots are great for those who are looking for self-help, or to find out if their area is covered by our fibre network – but the more complex issues are left to human agents,” says Gowrie.

He explains that it is about bringing people and machines together to make the customer service process more efficient and faster; human beings are able to focus on the empathetic side of servicing the customer, while the technology helps support addressing their query quicker. Ultimately, the intention is for customer service for end users to be extended to a 24/7 service, similar to that of the NOC.

“We are not taking away the customer service element from the ISP, and call on end users to still contact their ISP first. Where issues are not Frogfoot related, we still have to work with our ISPs to resolve those. Our goal is to ensure that customers are happy with their service. By bolstering their customer service capabilities, we are creating a symbiotic relationship that adds value to all of our brands,” concludes Gowrie.