One Touch Switch: embracing new telco rules for the good of your customers

One Touch Switch: embracing new telco rules for the good of your customers

This year is one of major change for telcos. From upgrading critical infrastructure to implementing One Touch Switching, there is a wave of new regulations, obligations and security frameworks that UK telecoms providers will need to be ready to embrace.

Navigating those changes can be difficult. But when the new regulations are so focused on protecting consumers and giving them more power to choose the best available deals, there’s an opportunity for telcos to turn legislation into a competitive sales advantage.


Safer networks, stronger service

For the UK telecoms sector, there are two major pieces of legislation dominating the horizon in 2023 – the Telecommunications (Security) Act and the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC). And while both of them are broad frameworks touching on all areas of the telecoms industry, there are two significant prongs to this new wave of regulation.

The first is aimed at upgrading and modernising telco infrastructure, and promoting investment in that area. But that doesn’t just mean updating a telecoms network’s capabilities – it also means making the infrastructure more robust.

Both the EECC and the Telecommunications (Security) Act have obligations for service providers to strengthen their network against cyber threats and to notify the government of any breaches. The Telecommunications Security Act goes even further, requiring telecom companies to only work with trusted vendors and suppliers who meet stringent security criteria laid out by the UK government.

That focus on network security feeds into the second part of the legislation – to better protect consumers and ensure they get the highest quality of service. The European Electronic Communications Code in particular is designed to give consumers more freedom and power in choosing a telco provider, by encouraging competition and introducing new rules on billing and contract length.

With consumers in the spotlight, meeting these obligations is as much a matter for a telco’s sales and operations teams as for their technical side. But if they’re not equipped with the right tools, they can risk not being able to deliver the kind of customer service that’s required.


One Touch Switch

Legislation isn’t all that’s putting consumer empowerment in an ever greater spotlight. There’s also Ofcom’s plans for One Touch Switch, to enable customers to change to a new broadband provider without having to speak to their current provider first. Although the adoption has faced delays and there has been confusion on what exactly is required, this is still something telecom companies will have to bring into their sales process soon.

In a nutshell, One Touch Switch is about making it easier for consumers to change their broadband supplier. But it’s not just about creating less admin in the switching process – it’s also about giving people more options to choose from in the first place.

Every telco provider has an obligation to match their broadband service to what else is on offer, in terms of speed, pricing and contract length. The idea is that sales reps can show consumers that they’re offering the best package out there – not just on price but on the quality of the service too – and that customers can make an informed choice on whether to stay or switch.

Ultimately, it’s about extending more freedom of choice to broadband customers. And while that’s being driven from a regulatory perspective, internet service providers who embrace that into their sales process can make it a core part of their brand.

For example, our Touchstone sales platform makes it easy to give customers a grace period to review their offer before signing the contract. That extra time can help them to a) be more confident in their decision, and b) trust that a sales pitch isn’t pressuring them to switch.


Look after your brand by looking after your customers

While navigating new restrictions and regulations can be a challenge, it also presents an opportunity for telecoms operators to build their brand. When so much of telco sales depends on trust, doubling down on looking after consumers doesn’t just satisfy legislation – it also builds a competitive advantage.

For example, take the pre-documentation that has to be sent during a sale. Once your sales rep has agreed a sale with a customer, they need to send all of that over before any contract is signed. With PSI Fusion they can do that instantly, and send it directly to the customer’s device. They can still have a grace period to review the documents, but that isn’t prolonged any further than it has to be.

The sooner those documents arrive, the better the experience for the customer. They can focus on going over the offer in their own time rather than wondering when everything will arrive. Most importantly, they’ll feel reassured that you’re honouring your obligations to look after consumers and deliver the best possible service.

With such a unique framework of regulations governing the telco world, your sales solution needs to be one that takes that into account. A general sales tool might do everything necessary for another industry or jurisdiction, but it won’t be set up for the nuances of meeting telco legislation and providing customers with the frictionless experience they’re looking for.

To learn more, check out our thoughts on boosting your customer experience with territory management or take a look at our End-to-End Sales or Multichannel Sales solutions.

Getting Utility Sales Right the First Time

Getting sales agreements right the first time is a huge concern for any sales team. For utility companies, making sure that every “i” is dotted and that every “t” is crossed in accordance with local regulations regarding energy sales is especially important.

For the first time in over a decade, the largest energy providers in the UK are re-entering the market through face to face selling channels. While these providers are taking their first cautious steps back into this world, other more experienced players are also planning to re-enter the field sales domain following the halt caused by the pandemic.

For both types of providers, ensuring that the people representing you in the field are not only complying but delivering an exceptional experience is key to not only avoiding any complaints or challenges but also to win over new customers and capitalise on the very real and lucrative opportunities available.

With this in mind, here are some considerations for your business leaders:

Field sales historically has had a high churn rate, in some markets field sales reps will often migrate to the energy provider offering the cheapest product to the market. As many field sales reps are paid on commission only structures, they go where they are most likely to be successful and in turn, get paid. While price is hugely important, the level of service offered by an organisation is also key, especially considering the number of cheaper, smaller energy providers going bust in recent years due to their mismanagement of customer needs.


When you are putting a sales rep in front of a customer, they need to not only have detailed knowledge of your products and services but also of the value you offer customers that include and go beyond prices, such as service and overall customer experience. This puts a higher demand on the sales reps to develop their soft skills. Developing these skills and creating the type of customer experience that delivers at every interaction takes time and consideration.

Creating a training plan that not only offers upfront training and onboarding, but also offers continuous learning, just-in-time learning and assessment and can be delivered to the rep on their device just before and after they start selling, makes the information easily digestible, keeps the material fresh in their mind, and allows sales reps to apply their learning immediately with the results tracked.

Quality Assurance:

Inaccurate sales numbers cause headaches for both sales reps and business leaders, especially if there are improvements that can be made to your process to shore up those challenges. If there are challenges with a sale, such as incomplete or inaccurate information, or you are an organisation that does a separate follow-up to every customer post-sale, all of this equals more time and more cost, more time to rework or validate a sale and more cost both direct and opportunity costs.

To mitigate this costly consequence your organisation can implement a digital sales solution with the ability to highlight the gaps in your sales process - and add checks, validations and automated workflows to your sales process. This takes the guesswork out of selling, giving the sales reps a more accurate view of their sales commission and providing you with more accurate data to make decisions and improve your process overall.

To complement this from a quality assurance perspective, your customer can review and sign off on the sale on their device, confirming the legitimacy of the sale. You can automatically follow up with a customer satisfaction survey to ensure the rep has completed their duties as expected.

If you are embarking on a new or emboldened sales effort we’d love to hear what approaches you are taking to getting it right, the first time.

Schedule a sales MOT with the team today

3 Ways Energy and Telco Providers can Safely Reap the Rewards of Door-to-Door Sales

I’m sure you’ve heard stories of rogue energy and telco sales reps defying company rules and government guidance to gain access to people’s homes. In an effort to persuade residents to switch providers, rogue reps are using misleading sales techniques, not wearing face masks, and ignoring social distancing mandates. Sales code of conduct breaches have always been unacceptable, but today the potential ramifications are significantly greater. With their reputation at stake, many energy and telco providers have begun to wonder whether they can still benefit from door-to-door sales.


The future of field sales is here

While rogue reps are a cause for the provider to take immediate action, the truth of the matter is that pounding the pavement still produces impressive results. In fact, we’ve been monitoring the situation and have determined that energy and telco field sales delivered, on average, 2-5 sales per day per rep prior to the pandemic. Today with more people at home field sales reps are producing 30% more in sales! With many pandemic restrictions still in place, you may be wondering what’s the secret to improving door-to-door sales.

To minimise risk for both the customer and the rep, keep their business compliant, and set themselves up for long-term success, providers are adopting the following three tactics.


Tactic 1: Using remote recruiting and training for sales staff

The first step in mitigating customer risk is to minimise potential risks for your sales reps. In a field where there’s a high turnover rate, you need to keep the recruiting and training processes in constant motion. Even before the pandemic, many recruitment interviews took place without the candidate stepping foot in your facility. Covid-19 gave interviews via video conferencing an extra push, and this method of screening applicants will most likely continue – even when the pandemic becomes a distant memory. A Gartner survey of 334 HR leaders confirmed the rise in remote interviews, revealing that 86% of organisations are conducting virtual interviews.

When it comes to training, this necessary onboarding and ongoing activity are both time-consuming and costly – but it doesn’t need to be. In-house remote training, as well as video training modules, provides your sales reps with the tools they need more efficiently and cost-effectively. Using digital training methods allows reps to do ‘just-in-time’ learning, enabling them to immediately apply skills and knowledge just learned, which of course reinforces positive behaviour. By swapping in-person training with digitised sessions, you’ll gain a better return on your training investment, while providing your reps with the learning materials they need, when they need them.


Tactic 2: Adopting technology to manage processes and ensure compliance

Do you know what your reps are doing when they’re in the field trying to make a sale? Chances are the answer is no. While the majority of your sales reps are conscientious people who follow the rules, we need to be mindful of the rogue reps that’ll throw caution to the wind in order to make a sale.

Keeping your reputation intact and ensuring you’re always in compliance doesn’t have to be an ongoing hurdle. There’s never been a better time to incorporate technology that will transform your processes from administrative-heavy everyday tasks into automated solutions. With the right software, you’ll get ‘track and trace’ applications which will increase the support you provide to your field staff while ensuring they are always in compliance with company rules and government guidance.


Tactic 3: Strengthening the sale with contactless delivery 

Whether providing prospects with brochures, videos, price comparisons or sales contracts, energy and telco companies are migrating to contactless delivery of virtually everything – giving their customers peace of mind, while reducing costs. As the pandemic drove home, people want to interact with sales reps in a digital manner.

Once a prospect decides to become a customer, energy and telco providers are now enhancing the sale by delivering a summary of the order, the terms and conditions of the sale, and the contract directly to the customer's mobile phone. This last step in the customer’s sales journey is simply accomplished by sending the customer a link via a text message, which provides a summary of the sale for the customer to review and sign, turning the entire ordering process into a contactless sale.


“The ability for the potential customer to review the sales with the rep and complete on their own device adds to the robustness of the sale as the customer feels a sense of ownership.” (Mike Cody, Head of Sales, Iberdrola Ireland)


How to take your door-to-door sales efforts to the next level

Compliance is essential to keep your business financially healthy. And doing this requires a software solution that enables you to manage processes, track sales, and quickly change as the industry evolves.

PSI’s Fusion Platform provides a wealth of business intelligence that enables you to:

  • - Analyse sales data
  • - Understand what is happening in the field (which often results in more sales)
  • - Manage and revise customer journeys
  • - Manage and follow up on leads
  • - Establish and improve upon processes

With leading-edge technology and best-in-class after-sales support, we’ve been helping energy and telco companies better manage their day-to-day sales processes for 15 years. And what we’ve learned during that time is – with the right processes and the right technology, providers can safely reap the benefits of door-to-door sales.


But don’t take our word for it… 

"When we initially start selling on the doors it was a manual process but the business was being exposed by reps misselling, we needed to put a rigid structure and processes in place to mitigate this risk. This structure ended up making a huge difference, from simple things like not having to decipher bad handwriting to less broken sales, with a limited risk of misselling.

Over time both the doors and the contact centre were both put through this process and given manners which led to it becoming a golden standard. We utilised the PSI solution including back-end automation and checks to improve the quality of our sales process, the data captured, and how we behaved in the field.

From the regulators perspective, we went from being the worst energy company to best in class for the last 6 years running. We are given as the example of what should be done to the other energy companies.”

- SSE (a PSI customer for 12 years)


Reach out to our team to learn how we can help you improve compliance and boost sales.

Leading the Way Through Compliance, Customer Experience and Competitiveness

Regardless of whether your organisation sells energy or telco products, regulatory compliance isn’t an option. With regulators such as Ofgem and Ofcom expanding their scope on an ongoing basis, the regulatory landscape is a moving target, putting you at a distinct disadvantage.

Although it’s mandatory, how does your organisation view compliance – as a necessary evil or as a means to improve the customer experience and perhaps even gain a competitive advantage? This blog explores the intersection between compliance and customer experience, how it can improve your competitive standing, and the tools and technology you need for a customer-centric approach to compliance.


Compliance and Customer Experience: Better Together

For many organisations in regulated sectors, the thought is that they have to make a choice – satisfy regulators or satisfy customers. Like a needle and thread, compliance and customer experience go hand-in-hand. Although a difficult balance, there’s a direct relationship between being compliant and delivering exceptional customer experiences.

Let’s take a look at a few scenarios, one that takes a siloed approach to compliance and customer experience and the other that puts the customer at the centre of compliance.


Scenario 1: Disconnected compliance and customer experience

Using one of the most common reasons for lodging a complaint, billing, we’ll assume that your organisation has recently seen a spike in the number of complaints. Regardless of whether the customer wasn’t transferred to the right person or department or their complaint wasn’t properly acknowledged or handled, the end result remains the same – a formal complaint being lodged with the regulatory agency.


Scenario 2: Integrated compliance and customer experience

We’ll use the same set of circumstances, however since you’re taking a customer-centric approach to regulatory compliance, the outcome is much different. Not only are customers immediately transferred to the right person or department, but the first few calls set the wheels in motion to determine the cause of increased billing complaints. In this case, you had a technical issue with your billing system, which failed to notify customers of the upcoming rate increase. To rectify the situation and decrease the number of incoming calls, you immediately send all customers an apology notice along with an explanation of the rate increase.

While this situation is rather benign and easily rectified, there are others that could have a not so clear cut resolution and/or result in personal damage. It’s important to remember that the goal of regulators is to protect the customer. Put another way, their purpose is to ensure that organisations aren’t taking advantage of customers, either intentionally or unintentionally.


Compliance: A Continuous Cycle of Improvement

Staying compliant entails continuous improvements where any complaint, error, or mistake is reviewed and acted upon. Once corrective measures have taken place, you need to use the situation as a learning initiative and determine how it can be embedded within your processes such as workflows, training, etc., to ensure the same situation doesn’t happen again.

It’s also important to remember that the frequency of compliance changes will require ongoing enhancements on your part, from the processes, tools, and technology aspects. With sales reps in the field, you need to do everything possible to ensure they are able to deliver great customer experiences and operate within regulatory guidelines.

This means providing them with the technology and tools they need to efficiently do their jobs while remaining compliant. Technology that is making a difference includes auto-populating as much customer information as possible, delivering logic-driven questions to their device to ensure that the right product is offered to the right customer type, providing the ability to validate customer data while at the door, and delivering continuous learning electronically. In addition, when a problem arises you need the ability to access the details around the issue. This is where having intelligent insights can help to know why the issue occurred, rectify the situation faster, and reduce complaints.


Is Compliance Part of Your Company’s DNA?

Too often organisations approach compliance and customer experience from different vantage points, with compliance falling under the purview of your legal department and customer experience the responsibility of customer-facing employees. This siloed approach makes it difficult to remain compliant and deliver exceptional customer experiences simultaneously.

When compliance complements the customer experience, it becomes part of your processes and workflows, basically becoming embedded in your organisation’s DNA – giving you a competitive edge. You're more apt to pick up early warning signs of possible compliance risk and be able to proactively take the necessary actions. Doing this, however, requires the right tools and technology. Technology and tools that only a company that has extensive energy, telco and regulatory compliance knowledge can provide.

At PSI, we have experience in helping regulated organisations take a customer-centric approach to regulatory compliance. With us as your partner, you’ll be able to cost-effectively bridge the compliance and customer experience gap and take a leading role in your industry.


Do you want to improve regulatory compliance, deliver outstanding customer experiences, and gain a competitive advantage? Contact our team today to learn how we can help you make compliance a core component of your company’s DNA.

How Energy and Telco Companies Can Protect Their Brand by Controlling Sales Processes

Did you know that you only have 7 seconds to make a first impression and that it takes 5 - 7 impressions to even start creating brand awareness? A solid brand is a symbol of trust, dependability, and integrity. In fact, a survey of more than 2,000 consumers revealed that 94% of the respondents are more likely to be loyal to a brand that offers complete transparency.

Creating a positive brand image takes time and money and the last thing you want is for your brand to be associated with negative impressions. Although companies across all industries strive to protect the integrity of their brands, the energy and telco sectors have unique considerations as historically poor practices have harmed their reputation, as well as resulted in regulatory fines.


The relationship between sales processes and brand integrity

In an industry where winning customers requires you to outperform their current provider, brand integrity is of the utmost importance. While most of your sales reps are honest, play by the rules, and hardworking, it only takes a handful of door-to-door sales missteps to tarnish the reputation you built and nurtured.

When it comes to field sales operations, energy and telco companies face a distinctive and difficult dilemma. On one hand, door-to-door selling is incredibly effective and profitable; and on the other hand, without the right controls in place, even just a few bad processes could chip away at your brand’s reputation – until there is nothing left. The truth of the matter is that when you try to manage sales routes with manual processes, mistakes can and do happen.

Whether honest mistakes or rogue reps disregarding processes and using misleading sales tactics, you need to do everything possible to keep your brand’s image intact. We’ve compiled a list of the most common mistakes and mis-selling techniques to help you determine if your brand is at risk.

  • Multiple visits to the same address by different sales reps.
  • Reps that don’t have a solid understanding of your internal rules and processes.
  • Inadequate training as to the procedures reps needs to follow when in the field.
  • Sales reps using fake phone numbers, bank account details, and phoney or duplicate addresses to create a sale.
  • Sales reps misleading customers to close a sale (which can also lead to regulatory fines).
  • Sales reps disregarding their lead list and cold knocking.
  • Finalising a sale without proper customer consent.

As you read through the list, did you find yourself thinking – yes, we’ve been trying to overcome these issues? If so, there’s a solution that will mitigate these and countless other brand-damaging challenges, and it starts with being able to effectively manage your sales processes.


Control your sales processes, control your brand image

Without the right technology, you simply have no idea what’s going on in the field. To control your sales processes, you need a solution that enables you to:

  • Track rep performance: Go beyond tracking sales quotas and manage agent training records and clearance checks, monitor sales rep’s performance KPIs, track rep’s whereabouts using GPS, and issue licenses.
  • Manage territories: Divide areas into hubs, assign routes within the hubs to individual reps, and monitor their movement with GPS.
  • Put routes in hibernation mode: When you over-sell in a particular area, you need to block selling within that route (or set of addresses) for a specific period of time.
  • Know reps are selling in their assigned territories: Geo-stamp every sale made using GPS.
  • Mark do not contact locations: When a customer asks a sales rep to stop contacting them, it’s important that this request is followed.
  • Eliminate mis-selling: Provide reps with a sales script that can be integrated into the overall sales process.
  • Ensure compliance and best practices: Clearly define all sales processes and ensure rep verification.

At PSI we have the technology that allows you to do this and more. With us, you gain complete control of the sales process and can be assured of being highly compliant with regulatory mandates.


Don’t leave your brand’s reputation to chance

Mis-selling not only puts your brand at risk but can result in regulatory fines – something you want to avoid at all costs. With the ability to effectively manage sales processes, you’re able to mitigate the risk of bad sales and help your field reps deliver the kind of customer experience that will elevate your brand.

A tightly controlled sales process is key to maintaining brand integrity and it’s never been easier to achieve. When you partner with PSI you get a solution, based on 15 years of industry expertise, that enables you to control the sales process, achieve successful field sales operations, protect your brand, and stay compliant with government regulations.

Talk to a member of our team today to learn how you can control your sales processes and boost brand appeal.