Improving the Telco Customer Journey—Encouraging Subscription Renewal

Customer Experience

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.

Customer Experience
Chris Jenkins

Posted on 04-11-2017

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