What does your team do, Khun Virat?
We take care of customers through many channels, whether via a phone call, SMS, Facebook, Line Official, and Pantip.com website. We have to see if the customers have any questions or emails. In the old days, we’d even get faxes!
We have four major goals. First is the service quality, we have to serve our customers well and efficiently. The second is to solve the problem of complaints and provide solutions for each customer until they are satisfied. The third, today, is that it is very competitive among network providers, and we must hold on to our old customers. And the ultimate goal is to introduce more new services to our customers so that they can have more options when they need our help.
“The ultimate goal is to introduce more new services to our customers so that they can have more options when they need our help.”
Over 20 years, how have the needs of dtac customers changed?.
At the beginning of the mobile phones era, each network tried to accelerate the signal expansion. The major problem was that signal did not cover some areas. Then the mobile phone prices got cheaper and there were more subscribers. Another problem in the analog era was signal stealing. Even if you did not own a certain number, there were ways to tune up your handset to use the signal of that number for free. Digital put an end to that. Today, people use the internet on their mobile phones. I think the user behavior and their complaints are changed by technology.
Do you ever get issues that go beyond the normal scope of your work?
Oh, sure. Mostly it has to do with family problems. Once, our staff was contact by a family whose father had Alzheimer’s. He drove out and his family could not contact him so they asked us to help. We were able to reach him and get his location.
It’s not really our role but sometimes people just don’t know who else to call. Once, a son wouldn’t pick up her calls so she called us in despair. We helped patch things over. People know we’re here 24/7. They might even call if they get into an accident.
Recently, a customer was trapped in the office restroom; its lock was out of order. Unfortunately, it was in the evening, nobody was in the office. He called us and we coordinate with the people in that company to help him out.
We try not to interfere in the private matters of our customers, because it is a delicate matter. But when it’s an emergency, we feel that it’s our duty to help.
What’s at the heart of the Call Center job?
First, our focus is providing the best customer service to our customers, over 20 million of them. It is very difficult to make everyone satisfied.
While solving problems for the customers, we also try to prevent it at the same time. For example, if our customer reports slown internet signal, we have to find out why it’s happening and coordinate with our Engineering Department.
To work here, you need to have a service mind and love this job. At every workstation, our staff have a mirror. We have to see ourselves while talking to the customers. If you smile, people will hear it in your voice too.
What about chatbots?
I have to tell you that, currently, social media is much more popular for customers. Whether on Facebook or Line, we get about 60,000-70,000 messages a month, a number our employees cannot cover. So we got the idea of setting up a chatbot, to help us solve this problem.
We launched a trial run with customers who contact us via SMS. The bot will analyze the questions and answers from the existing database. The more data we have, the more accurate and smarter the bot will be. For example, if a customer asks about service fees, the system will find the word ‘fee’ or ‘billing’, then retrieve the answer. Now it accommodates more than 10,000 members, about 20 percent. Later on, we will integrate chatbot with other channels like Facebook.
The bot works based on statistics, if the accuracy is less than the set up value, the system will automatically send the question to the employee. We set up the bot’s characteristic ourselves: early 20s, with a little humor, the language is polite, but not very formal.
How do you keep up with changing technology and customer needs?
Everything changes but I think the core remains the same. For example, the mobile phone business is to sell SIM cards, it requires distribution channels, promotions and after-sales service. The core requirements are the same but the changes are the details inside.
“You just have to adapt and accept that the change is normal.”
You just have to adapt and accept that the change is normal. It is important to anticipate what will occur in the near future, and be ready to handle it.
What about your team?
To cope with change, staff have to develop both hard skills and soft skills. A hard skill is knowledge and expertise. If you are an engineer, it requires knowledge of engineering, you already had a hard skill. A soft skill is a matter of working with others, being able to solve problems, communicate effectively with other people. And creativity is one of the most important soft skills in this era.
Is change harder in an organization of dtac’s size?
If people work in silos, yes, it’s harder. You can’t do that. We have to go beyond that limitation, and reach out to other teams. If we’re haggling over the job, then it would not succeed. We need to be helpful and collaborative.