Top 7 Ways to Optimize Customer Retention in the Telecom Industry
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There are several factors affecting customer churn in the telecom sector. Telecommunications is a highly saturated sector, composed largely of commoditized services. The result of this combination is a highly competitive industry with exceptionally high customer churn, which has prompted a variety of customer retention strategies.
The modern telecom customer wants not only stellar products and services, but also stellar customer service – an aspect of the industry that is notoriously unsatisfactory, often eliciting public condemnation from disgruntled customers on social media channels. Word-of-mouth travels extremely fast on the Internet these days. Poor customer experiences are major reasons for customer churn in the telecom industry and are shared far and wide in an instant, so retention of customers must be a constant, creative, ongoing implementation of different strategies.
It’s critical to implement customer retention strategies in the telecom industry in order to stay ahead of the game, address potential customer grievances before they happen, and improve customer retention, because, let’s face it, customer acquisition is expensive. How expensive? Customer acquisition can cost up to 25 times more than retaining the customers you’ve already got, so it really pays to understand how to keep your existing customers happy and loyal. Below are seven effective strategies for customer retention in the telecom industry:
Loyalty Programs Encourage (You Guessed It) Loyalty
With the increase in service provider options, customer loyalty is waning, and if a customer does choose to remain loyal to a particular company, they want their loyalty acknowledged and rewarded. A highly effective customer retention strategy in the telecom industry is loyalty programs. Loyalty programs are the perfect opportunity to offer your customers incentives to stay engaged and loyal. These programs shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all. Analyze customer data to personalize your offerings for different customers.
To reduce churn, ensure offerings are of real, attainable value – if loyalty rewards are irrelevant and difficult to actually redeem, your good will just comes off as shoddy marketing that may end up driving your customers away. Some examples of popular loyalty programs include: experiential rewards, such as priority music tickets and priority entertainment access; usage-based rewards, such as deals on long–distance calls if they’re often calling International numbers; surprise packages, such as equipment and services upgrades on customer birthdays; and tiered programs, which offer customers levels of benefits based on their spend or year subscribed, rather than a one-time coupon or blanket offer to all regardless of levels of engagement.
Really Listen to and ACT on Customer Feedback
Another reliable customer engagement and retention strategy is eliciting feedback from customers and using their input to inform the company’s procedures. You don’t have to guess what your customers do and do not want. They will tell you! Frequently and regularly run customer satisfaction surveys, and thoroughly monitor feedback so you can detect recurring, longterm issues and patterns. If an issue is consistently popping up in negative reviews, it’s crucial to promptly invest time into figuring out how to fix the issue.
AI can assist in this process with the use of sentiment analysis, which is a type of customer analytics that can scour feedback for ongoing negative experiences, and keep track of and make a list of the most common complaints. Sometimes feedback can help telecoms companies proactively identify small issues before they become big problems. Other times, feedback comes from customers who have already churned via exit surveys, which is still incredibly valuable information that can help the company target the issue before it causes more telecom customer churn.
Maintain a Competitive Edge by Adopting the Latest Technology
Companies can best perform telecom customer churn analysis with advanced analytics tools. Integrating the latest tools and technologies is a good customer retention technique in any industry. And when so many services in the telecommunications industry are commoditized, it’s crucial to prioritize new, innovative solutions that are most likely to transform the customer experience. Customer retention analytics and insight tools can be leveraged to predict customer behavior, anticipate their needs, and help with improving customer retention in the telecoms industry.
Artificial Intelligence can help telecoms companies: predict customer churn; perform emotion speech analytics in order to measure the customer’s emotional state and route them to the most appropriate agent; perform textual sentiment analysis on content across social media to measure the overall feelings of customers regarding services and products; implement call routine, chat bots, and voice recognition; and perform predictive maintenance.
Customer retention management software, such as a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can be integrated into your company to organize and streamline processes. CRMs collect and organize data such as the customer's website, email, telephone, and social media across multiple channels; personal preferences on communications; recent news about the company's activity; and more. This data is used to improve your understanding of your relationship with a customer over time.
Anticipate & Prevent Issues with Preventative Maintenance
Issues with network performance and maintenance continue to grow as the industry becomes more and more complex. 5G infrastructure and the Internet of Things continue to add to this complexity. That’s why it has become critical for telecom providers to adopt the latest in AI, ML, and data analytics tools and technologies to help manage the plethora of telco assets and improve customer retention management.
Customers expect telecom providers to stay ahead of the curve and in the know at all times when it comes to their service. For instance, not all outages are preventable – some are even regularly scheduled – but nearly all outages can be anticipated, making it possible for providers to proactively address any potential issues customers may face. Customers appreciate having a head’s up and a realistic time frame for service disruptions so that they can plan accordingly. Routine preventative maintenance can also help prevent things like service-level agreement breaches, equipment failure, and general network issues.
Preventative and predictive maintenance in telecom includes activities such as: network bandwidth checks, network security assessment, verification and certification of service-level agreements, validation of antenna orientations, network hardening and densification, and vegetation management.
Refrain from Relying (too much) on Robots
Another method for how to improve customer retention is an increase in human interaction. While customer retention analysis is improved significantly with the use of AI, robots cannot comprehend all of the nuances of each unique situation…at least not yet.
That’s why it’s so important to increase human interaction. How many times have you seen a significant other/family member/roommate shout “REPRESENTATIVE” into the phone over and over in an attempt to override the robotic voice reciting menu options? If customers always find themselves stuck in an infinite loop of robots and menus, you can bet they’ll “Press 1 for Cancel Subscription.”
Customers often have issues that are not black-and-white, and cannot be fixed with the push of a button. In these instances, customers want human interaction with a knowledgeable, positive, patient, and sympathetic agent who knows who they are and is familiar with the issues being presented. Agents are only as good as their training, so investing in sufficient education and tools for your customer-facing teams is a surefire way to improve customer service and increase customer retention in the telecom industry.
Ensure Agents are Properly Trained & Equipped
A major cause of high customer churn rates in the telecom industry is poor customer service. Recordings of rude and unprofessional customer agents have even gone viral on the Internet. Your agents represent your company, and just one bad interaction could have customers associating your entire brand with that one interaction from that one agent. Be sure to incorporate the following into your employee training to improve customer retention:
- Consistent, simple messaging – No matter who your customers reach, either via phone or chat or in person, the messaging and instructions should be the same everywhere and should be easy to understand. Training manuals should provide simple messaging for all employees that any customer could understand and follow.
- De-escalation techniques – Connectivity is the backbone of society. Disruptions in service are more than an annoyance, they’re disastrous for businesses, students, etc. and cause great distress. And while agents should never be expected to tolerate abuse from customers, they should be trained to respond to frustration with patience and compassion.
- Intuitive platform and knowledge base - Customers want answers fast, and an agent can only respond as quickly as her tools allow her. While customers may think that any agent they speak with will have quick fixes for any and all issues at the top of their head, this is not the case. Agents need access to intuitive knowledge base tools where they can quickly find answers to solve the customer’s issue. A knowledgeable agent inspires confidence in the whole company.
Self-Service Should Be Simple
Some people would rather watch paint dry then call a telecom representative. That’s why it is essential that self-service user interfaces should be totally clean and clear. Another effective customer retention strategy is empowering your customers to help themselves independently when they want to.
Your customer-facing platform should provide a seamless, frictionless experience. That means customer information, such as their services, purchases, customer service inquiries, and more, are saved and follow them through the customer journey. They shouldn't have to start from scratch and repeat themselves every time they hit a new department or talk to a new person. If a customer logs in or calls customer support and they feel like the company has no idea who they are or what they need, they will not feel valued, which has a highly negative impact on customer retention in the telecom industry.
This approach is known as an “omnichannel” strategy, which involves the use of seamlessly integrated channels that are tailored to customers’ specific needs and actively guide them toward the most efficient resolution. Advanced analytics can help organizations gain a deep understanding of their customers and gain insight into which cross-channel experiences will provide them with the most value. The two core dimensions of each type of customer journey that companies should consider are: customers’ propensity to use multiple channels; and the importance of the journey to customers.
The Heavy.AI Difference
Telecom providers that leverage advanced analytics tools can analyze data related to demographics, usage, connectivity, network reliability and performance, and more, in order to better understand their customers’ needs, perform telecom customer churn predictions, reduce customer churn rates, improve customer retention rates, and optimize customer retention in the telecom industry. But the scale of modern telecom data is often too massive for their legacy analytics tools, which limits customer churn analysis. With HEAVY.AI’s advanced analytics capabilities, users can quickly analyze and visualize all of their data to spot anomalies and drill down to specific network issues that can cause customer churn.