Today, consumer expectations have increased dramatically and the possibility to churn has never been so great. Having strong, reliable advocates of the service you provide is more powerful than the millions of pounds spent chasing replacements for those you lose.
With access to recommendations, grievances and peer reviews at their fingertips, consumers today are no longer at the mercy of the businesses that provide the goods and services they need. Particularly in telecommunications, where more choice has empowered customers, long-term business success will depend on transparency, trust and the fruits of a robust customer advocacy strategy. Brand advocates—those who cheerlead for your product and service are highly influential. And it’s easy to see why. Nine out of ten consumers cite recommendations from friends and family as the most trusted form of advertising worldwide.
In the struggle to outpace the competition, smart Telco businesses recognize superior customer experience as a true differentiator. Yet despite a myriad of loyalty and customer satisfaction programs, customer advocacy levels remain low. With customer experience top of mind, what accounts for low rates, and what can managers do to strengthen advocacy and drive growth in the Telco industry?
In previous posts, I introduced key challenges and goals of the first five of seven phases of the Telco Customer Lifecycle: Awareness, Conversion, On-boarding, Cross Sell and Resolution. In this piece, I discuss the sixth phase—Advocacy, along with challenges and strategies for improving this critical stage of the Telco customer journey.
Driving Growth Through Advocacy—Key Challenges
Differentiating factors are disappearing. In the world of Telco offerings, differentiation between operators is becoming harder and harder. Why? Network infrastructure, such as cell towers are shared to reduce operating costs and conform to tougher environmental regulations. In addition, price plans tend to offer unlimited data and voice. As a consequence, customer experience is becoming more and more important for both retaining an existing customer base and attracting new customers.
Difficulty adapting. With on-demand everything, customer attitudes and behaviors are changing faster than Telco representatives can adapt. Potential customers are seeking out and finding information through social media channels, relying on peer reviews and recommendations from friends and family to guide decision-making. There is also an emotional aspect to advocacy, and those who are impassioned—both positively and negatively make their voice heard.
Lack of actionable outcomes. The converse of advocacy must be taken into consideration, particularly if there is no actionable plan in place to identify and address customer experiences that have been negative. How is the industry currently measuring customer experience? Customer Satisfaction Surveys (CSAT) measure user satisfaction with products, and Network Promoter Scores (NPS) can inform about customer loyalty, but both fail to account for the bigger picture—the reason behind the numbers. Without actionable outcomes to address issues, network performance, brand advocacy, customer and employee sentiment and touchpoint interactions simply collect data and measure trends over time.
Building Consumer Advocacy In Telco—Strategy and Goals
Winning with advocacy in Telco involves prioritizing and embracing a plan for furthering the following strategies:
Rock customer experience. Develop more detailed pictures of customer wants and needs, and use those insights to more effectively deliver customized products and services that create successful customer experiences. Listen to customers, and build a closed loop mechanism to reach back out to them to demonstrate that you have listened and are taking action. Highlight areas where customers have been delighted to help replicate successful strategy across the wider business.
Create two-way dialogue with customers. Create on-going dialogue from the moment customers interact with your brand. Open communication is a differentiator, and helps drives true advocacy between the customer and Telco representatives. Remove the “utility” phase and replace it with a personalised conversation based on a progressive profile created and enhanced each time contact is made with an operator. Transparent, ongoing interaction will compel customers to promote and recommend their Telco provider.
Promote relationship-building to improve and grow. Encourage conversation with your customer at a given moment in time and across the relationship to create a “temperature gauge” for assessing how happy they are with your brand. This will help identify things that can be done to improve experience overall and help find similar customers across the installed base.
Today, consumer expectations have increased dramatically and the possibility to churn has never been so great. Having strong, reliable advocates of the service you provide is more powerful than the millions of pounds spent chasing replacements for those you lose. Get it right the first time, but if not, learn from your missteps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Next week I discuss the final installment in the Telco Customer Lifecycle series, Retention. Stop customers from thinking about when their contract ends by ensuring they get the most from your relationship to decrease churn, reduce the need to attract new customers and most importantly, drive more advocates.