The telecommunications industry has never been known for an exceptional customer experience. A number of its touchpoints - from onboarding through technical support, to billing has a reputation for being frustrating rather than satisfying. In industry surveys, the telecom sector is among the least well-reviewed according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index having a Net Promoter Score® average of 31.
Clearly, this has severe implications for businesses operating in this sector, especially in light of the expectation that customers want to receive valuable and better service. Developing profitable relationships with existing customers is critical to the success of any business. Even though many business leaders are recognizing the importance of delivering value, they have no clear direction of how to intentionally increase revenue by enhancing customer experience. When a customer’s needs are met they will often recommend a brand, product, or service to others and will remain loyal to the business.
Maybe there is a lack of clarity among telco business leaders regarding the ways that customer experience impacts profitability, or how CX will increase return on investment? Afterall, many telecom companies are primarily concerned with the number of sign-ons and new product installations but fail to provide adequate follow-ups after. And when you take this into account, it is easy to understand why there is a high rate of customer churn in this particular industry.
In an oligopoly with very few major players, winning market share and succeeding is largely a matter of numbers. Telco sales representatives are responsible for signing up a quota of new customers and the support department handles anything that follows - creating a lot of frustrations for customers. In order for telco companies to retain customers, then it is imperative that customer service experiences are streamlined across all touchpoints, starting with proper onboarding. Undoubtedly, acquiring new customers is more expensive than retaining existing ones. Once telco companies realize that superior customer experience can actually be monetized, we will begin to see direct and deliberate CX initiatives trending upward. But where to begin?
In order to monetize CX effectively, it is necessary to first identify customer pain points
Before getting into typical customer pain points in telco, there is a need to understand why much attention has not been paid to them in the first place. Larger telecom companies have been able to survive and reduce competition by buying out smaller wireless carriers to gain an advantage. And while many have found success in the market by doing that, there is still an alarmingly high rate of customer churn. Losing a few customers might seem inconsequential, but the cost of these losses accumulate over time. It is estimated that telecom companies lose up to $65 million to churn every month.
Due to the myriad of options available to customers, customer experience is a leading differentiator in non-oligopolistic industries. As there are few competitors, telcos have turned their attention to initiatives that drive measurable revenue and ignore the needs and expectations of their customers. Generally, dissatisfied customers will quickly switch to another provider that provides the same service for much lower prices, so most providers compete primarily on the basis of price in order to differentiate their offerings. Meanwhile, consumers have also expressed concerns about;
- Little to no onboarding process
- Minimal communication from brands except promotions of generic unrelated products
- Resolving billing issues takes time and the process is cumbersome
- Overcharging of cancellation fees is common
- Telco companies do not reward customer loyalty
Today's customer wants more than just a fair price, they also want to feel valued. The telco industry is a giant among others when it comes to the amount of customer data in their possession. It is likely that they will continue to be unaware of the major customer pain points that have afflicted the industry for years, until they begin making use of this available data.
Up until recently, customer data was collected by using outdated and discontinued systems whose usability was limited to call centers and point-of-sales systems. The advent of digital technology, however, has enabled many organizations to leverage their own proprietary data as well as customer information obtained from their digital footprints. Based on this information, telco companies are able to build detailed profiles of their customers, allowing them to understand their preferences and behavior, which is where the concept of hyper personalization comes into play.
What telecom companies can do to monetize customer experience through hyper-personalization
As established, understanding customers is an integral part of monetizing customer experience. Among other things, it is necessary to inquire about the costs of attracting and retaining customers. Identify how they purchase, how they interact with your brand and why they deflect. It is important for companies to link both actions and outcomes to business metrics in order to effectively monetize the improvements they make to customer experience. If the metrics have changed since implementing any program, the CX team should be able to highlight the change in those metrics. Furthermore, these links can also be used to demonstrate ROI to decision makers, so as to determine which projects to prioritize and how to build a case for funding customer experience.
In the telecom industry, improving customer experience and quality of services are vital to retaining customers and increasing revenues. However customers value experiences above products. Therefore, their loyalty is determined by their past experience with the service provider. To improve customer experience as a whole, there is a need to go the extra mile at every point of contact with customers and provide personalized communication that will help customers achieve their needs. Whether it’s a text message to start a subscription or to get information about the latest offers, billing or renewals, companies must provide the best possible service at every step.
By taking a digital-first customer-centric approach, service providers can begin to offer customized on-demand services with personalized content, bundles and discounts at the right time to customers. A provider must keep up with each customer's pain points and find opportunities in them to remain competitive. Every pain point provides a potential opportunity for customers to withdraw their loyalty to a brand. By gathering, analyzing and studying data, telcos will at least be able to identify the reasons for customer churn and proceed with strategies to resolve the issues.
Thus, adopting hyperpersonlaization into CX strategies will enable telco companies to differentiate themselves from competitors. The expectation is that service providers will proactively upgrade their systems or at least recommend upgrades to the right customer at the right time, based on usage of their services especially in this era of commoditization where customers base their purchase decisions on customer service, brand image and product characteristics, not always the best deal available on the market.
Telecom organizations can also benefit from hyper-personalization by better understanding their customers’ situations, enabling them to discern and act on life changes. Streamlining the process of updating a contract when a customer moves house, for example may prevent churn. The key is the ability to assess data and get the timing right. In the event that a message arrives too late, the customer may already be signed up with a competitor.
Ideally, telecom companies should look for customer engagement tools and solutions that support enhanced customer experience. Paging Zone does an excellent job at this by employing a customer outreach strategy that leverages data and analytics to reach and keep potential customers and win back customers they've lost. Larry Zekhtser, manager at Paging Zone, talked about how his team successfully rolled out Statflo at their stores and started reaping benefits of a personalized customer outreach program from day one. Larry’s team connected with customers in a meaningful way over text messages, giving customers access to a 2-way communication to improve engagement from the point of onboarding, personalized offerings, billing assistance, timely upgrades, etc. This was a breakthrough moment for Paging Zone, specifically in the light of the pandemic when there was so much uncertainty surrounding the store closures, implementation of safety protocols, and other in-store shopping arrangements at the time.
The concept of hyper-personalization can be applied throughout the customer journey, from attracting customers to providing them with customized services, engaging with them, making a purchase decision easier. Customer data gathered throughout a customer journey can be combined with external data to predict what customers want before losing them to competitors.
Hyper-personalization aims to simplify decision making for customers instead of being presented with multiple offers. With more connected devices and large data, companies need to find ways of collecting data and communicating with customers in a genuine manner. Direct business text messaging represents a new level of hyper-personalization, especially for telcos, most of whom are also mobile operators.
On a final note
Once telco companies begin to develop a deep understanding of their customers, they will be in a position to identify customer pain points that allow them to make actionable strategies to counter the problems, and then to offer timely communications so they do not lose their customers to the competition. A company with a CX strategy in place needs to connect with a customer who wants to be heard. Statflo provides this bridge.
To learn more about Statflo, click here to book a demo.