Cost-of-Living Crisis Puts Pressure on Customer Retention in Telecom Industry

The latest Ofcom data on affordability paints a pretty stark picture of the challenges that consumers in the UK are facing when it comes to paying for their telecommunication services. This is likely to directly impact the customer experience in a digital world and thereby can negatively impact customer retention management metrics for companies competing in this sector. Some of the highlights from the Ofcom data:

  • 8 million UK households are finding it difficult to afford communications services.
  • The number of families struggling to manage their telecoms bills in the UK has doubled over the last year – from 15% to 29% of customers nationwide – the highest level the regulator has recorded.
  • 43% of Young People (aged between 16-24) experienced communications affordability issues in the last month.

Switching Telecoms Provider

The Ofcom data also shows that since June 2020, one of the most common steps that households are taking to manage the issue is to change some aspect of their telecoms service – potentially switching tariff with their current provider or looking for a cheaper alternative. The data shows that switching is becoming an increasingly popular option and has increased by 60% between 2018 and 2021.

One of the key drivers for customers deciding to switch providers is affordability issues.

An even more worrying statistic from a broader societal perspective is the increased number of households that are reducing their spend on everyday items such as food and clothing just to maintain their connectivity – when things get to the point that being connected is more important than personal wellbeing something has to be done.

customer retention challenges in telecom industry | Ofcom | Which50

4 Practical Tips to Improve Customer Retention in the Telecom Industry with Which50

The overall solutions to the current cost-of-living crisis go way beyond this article but what we can and should discuss are some of the ways telecoms providers can leverage digital communications to engage more effectively with their current customers. By providing the appropriate journeys and supports, it should be possible for telcos to reduce the risk of customers switching to an alternative provider during these challenging times.

1. Create customer journeys across multiple digital channels

Building better customer relationships requires an agile and streamlined digital transformation approach. This includes offering smooth and engaging customer journeys that flow seamlessly from one digital channel to another.

For example in the journey outlined below – the customer receives an initial Email document with a PDF document attached to the email. To access the digital version of their bill or statement the customer would click through to an Online Portal that they would access via a One-Time Passcode (OTP) sent to them via SMS. If the customer is accessing this journey on their mobile phone they will move smoothly between different digital touchpoints – Email, Web, SMS and Digital Documents (eDocs) – without even realising that they were ‘switching channels‘.

Customer retention journey best practice | Which50

2. Invest in personalised messaging

If you are looking to improve customer retention in the Telecom industry, personalising your messaging is essential to increase engagement with your digital communication campaigns. Obviously, you should personalise your messaging to align the experience with your customers’ interests and needs, but you can do so much more than that if you can also harness your operational data within your digital content.

For example, if you are running a Collections campaign you can amend the wording of your message if the customer is not responding to previous communications. In the example below, the language shifts from the gentle ‘reminder’ in the first email to a firm warning of disconnection in the third email in the series.

customer retention in the telecoms industry | Which50

What you need to drive this level of content personalisation is a data-driven customer communication platform like Which50. The content can be dynamically updated as it is sent out to each customer based on their stage of debt/arrears – this is usually driven by the data from a single field within the core business system.

3. Measure your customer engagement

Measuring performance is crucial to assessing customer engagement, the effectiveness of your digital campaigns, and ultimately improving customer retention. Make sure you compare reports across your multiple digital channels and understand what is behind the numbers. Developing a closer relationship is an ongoing process that demands constant evaluation and attention to how your customers are responding to your communication efforts.

Ideally you want one centralised platform with built-in Analytics that can give you visibility of all of your campaigns in one place, in real-time, and across all of your different channels and systems. This allows you to efficiently measure campaign performance and customer engagement with comparison reports across all of your digital activities. In order to get a complete picture of your customer communications, you also need to make sure that you can track both marketing and operational messages from this one central view. This is particularly important from a regulatory perspective with the emergence of data privacy standards such as the GDPR requiring organisations to have a full and detailed audit trail of all of the communications that they have sent to their customers.

4. Listen to feedback and respond

Understanding your customers’ feedback and responding in an appropriate way has to be seen as a crucial part of a customer retention strategy in the telecoms industry. Your customer is under siege from competitive service providers determined to win their business and it is critical that you listen and respond to what your customers are saying.

Using a single customer communications platform will enable you to incorporate surveys into broader customer campaigns so that you can follow-up and respond to customers based on the feedback that they provide.

Customer Retention Journey Touchpoints | Which50

Improving Customer Retention in the Telecom Industry: Taking the Next Step

Unfortunately there is no quick fix to the cost-of-living crisis and for telecom providers there is going to be ongoing pressure over the next 12-18 months to reduce costs and deliver a better experience that can support customers who are struggling to pay their bills in these challenging times. By focusing on the customer and offering them a digital self-serve experience it is more likely that they will engage and stick around rather than switching to an alternative provider.

If you want to take the next step on your customer retention strategy, reach out to us today using the form below and you will receive our monthly newsletter.