Understanding the challenges the industry faces in securing contract renewals can help build successful experiences that excite existing customers, encourage retention and compel more subscribers to enthusiastically renew.
Despite our best efforts, the telecommunications industry isn’t revered for its outstanding customer service. For most of our customers, securing a mobile contract involves little more than finding the best price plan to support a favorite device. Customers today halfheartedly choose providers they feel to be the least objectionable, rather than choosing those they truly appreciate or would recommend to friends and family. At the end of the day, most customers simply want to be able to make calls, send messages, and leverage data on their devices. So why do the majority of Telcos today still invest more time, money and resources in driving new customers rather than retaining the ones they already have?
As part of the Telco Customer Lifecycle series, I discussed the challenges and goals of the first six phases of the customer journey: Awareness, Conversion, Onboarding, Cross Sell, Advocacy, and Resolution. In this piece, I explore Renewal, the final phase in the customer lifecycle. Understanding the challenges the industry faces in securing contract renewals can help build successful experiences that excite existing customers, encourage retention, and compel more subscribers to enthusiastically renew.
Acceptable Performance Is Not Enough—Key Challenges
When did acceptable performance become the standard for customer experience in Telco? When did we stop listening to our customers to understand what it is that they want? While some in the Telco industry utilize a 360-degree view of the customer, which mitigates many of these challenges, many others do not. Identifying and offering the best plan or services to customers is essential to keeping them satisfied. Conversely, when they start browsing your app or website looking for information on when a contract is due to expire or reviewing new devices, it’s an early indication that they are looking to force an upgrade or leave. Here are some of the common challenges facing Telco as it relates to encouraging subscription renewal.
Lack of communication. Ongoing, two-way dialogue is an important element of successful experiences, yet conversations between Telco representatives and customers only happen for a few reasons. Typically, customers call
- when they are interested in joining the network,
- when they are experiencing an issue with a service or a device, or
- when they want to terminate a contract.
Building more communication into the customer lifecycle—from the very beginning— is the only true way to foster relationships and build trust and loyalty.
Negative advertising. Unfortunately, many of the offers customers see advertised today suggest that it’s less expensive to leave a current contract or provider and start again. Add to that the power of “word of mouth,” and the fact that negative experiences relayed from friends and family carry tremendous weight, and contract renewal isn’t at the top of most customers to-do-list. One bad experience will no doubt influence others when it comes to deciding whether to upgrade or cancel a contract with a provider.
Failure to leverage customer information. Telco has access to the tools and technology, yet the majority of operators today do not take the time to review the usage patterns of their customers. As these patterns change over time (which they always do) many customers no longer receive the best value for the money they spend, as they were at the time of purchase and they know it.
Reducing Churn and Increasing Renewal In Telco—Goals
How do we tackle these issues? Many of these challenges can be resolved through ensuring more successful customer experiences across the lifecycle. Where to begin?
Review the content customers are browsing across your sites. Identify what content your customers are looking at and use this information to guide decision-making. For example, if you know that a customer is looking at the latest iPhone and they are out of contract, offer them an upgrade on the spot. Or, if data tells you that your customer wants the latest handset every year, start proactive messaging in the build up to the launch so they have no reason to look elsewhere.
Act on changes in customer usage patterns. Gathering information either on the usage of services or interactions across your digital footprint can mitigate many of the challenges associated with retention and renewal. Proactively adding features such as roaming will not only increase revenue, but also reduce the risk of bill shock if customers use devices abroad and most importantly, demonstrate that you truly understand your customers.
Ensure messaging is personalised. Make sure the messages customers see while browsing the web are targeted toward them directly and not generic acquisition messages that promote inexpensive phones/ tariffs. Data Management platforms enable companies to target relevant messages both on and off site. However, many promote the same message to their entire base or suppress messages when the customer sees nothing. It is far more advantageous to invest in service related messages than lose customers to a competitor.
Demonstrate the importance of your customers. Tell your customers that you appreciate them—a little gratitude goes a long way toward retaining them. Employ surveys to ask questions, receive feedback through “contact us” forms and take the time to listen and reply. The cost of reading a few responses and taking action on problems now is far less than not. Every Telco provider knows that it’s much less expensive to keep an existing customer than acquire a new one.
For many years, technology stood in the way of companies looking to create meaningful, one-to-one conversations with their customers. This is no longer the case! Invest in understanding your audience, drive relevant, personalised messaging to them and let them know that they are appreciated. Remember, we are all customers—the expectations that we have are likely no different from those of the customers we serve each and every day.