Premium support as a new trend

More and more Internet providers (ISPs) are offering premium support to their customers. For a surcharge in addition to their regular Internet fees, customers gain access to extended support features and services offered by their Internet provider. Let’s look into the possible models for this in more detail and why our products can easily be connected to them.  

Why premium support?

The idea of premium support is closely connected to self-service. Self-service helps providers with a fundamental problem: How can they make their customers call the hotline less often, while still providing them with help for technical questions and problems? Another problem of the ISPs is customers calling because of technical issues that are not part of the ISPs’ area of responsibility. This includes general problems with the PC or printer, extension of the home network, or email and security settings. Since the providers can’t simply turn down the customers, though, these topics have to be dealt with as part of the provider’s free hotline.  

This is where premium support becomes relevant. Customers can receive dedicated help for these issues if they pay an additional fee. As an example, this help could be self-service software such as the m2suite product line. It is a powerful tool for customers that helps them solve everyday Internet problems and guides them through the installation of new devices. Maybe the ISP offers the software to all customers and allows premium users to unlock additional features. Premium can also mean that a dedicated hotline or technicians are at the ready for customers who paid a surcharge. These additional payments can be handled in different ways too, be it monthly subscriptions or one-time fees.

The Swiss provider Swisscom shows what all of these factors can look like in practice.

The example of Swisscom

Swisscom relies on self-service in the area of premium support and offers all of its customers the My Swisscom Assistant (MSA) by Next to general functions such as Wi-Fi, modem and email management, there are also additional features that are only unlocked for customers with a premium subscription. These include, for example, cleaning up the PC and browsers or the readout of information about the customer’s system (like the health of the harddrives, workload of the RAM, or running processes). Security features are also part of the premium subscription: customers receive an overview and automatic warnings in areas such as antivirus, firewall, spyware or Windwos user account settings. In addition, there are quick links to various Windows functions that can be started from within the MSA with just one click. With the premium features, customers can not only manage all topics around their Internet access, but much more beyond that.

This way it’s two birds with one stone: not only are the customer calls to the hotline reduced, but there is also the option of upselling customers. They can choose between several “My Service subscriptions” with different monthly fees. These premium plans include, for example, support for more than one device or free on-site technician appointments, depending on the price class.

Swisscom goes further still and offers training courses for various technical topics (for example, on smartphone use, online security, or photography) to make customers even more independent.

In case customers do call the hotline after all, another benefit of the MSA comes to bear: It is often difficult for customers to narrow down or describe their problem. However, the service agents of Swisscom also have the MSA installed and know its features very well. Because of that, they can easily instruct customers to follow certain steps within the MSA and give the agents more detailed information about the problem. The premium features are especially useful here, as they can perform a thorough analysis of the customer’s system. Thanks to the Swisscom back end integration, the MSA can automatically determine if a customer has a subscription based on the login. As a result, it can dynamically unlock premium features. In case the customer does not have a subscription, the agent can generate a code for one-time use. The customer enters the code in the MSA to unlock the premium functions for one session. Should that also not be enough, the MSA can create a remote connection, meaning the service agent gains direct access to the customer’s PC. This allows the agent to solve the problem directly on the customer’s system by being “on site” in virtual form. All of this is possible with the MSA and without any additional software installation.