Communications from telecom service providers continue to miss the context for making customers advocates…and their customers continue to leave writes Orla Power, Head of Marketing at Brite:Bill

Large telecom service providers spend hundreds of millions of euros on marketing, getting customers to buy into their offerings, constantly trying to get one up on competitors, often through very clever and expensive campaigns. The focus is often on sign-up, stealing that customer away or back from competitors. But CSPs still struggle with “in-life” communications once the sign up process is complete.

Brite:Bill improves CSP in-life customer communications

More often than not, the customer gets parked at this stage, unless they become vocally unhappy or at risk of leaving, when retention communications kick back in. But what about that gap, that golden opportunity timespan when CSPs should be communicating in a meaningful way with their hard won customers, building real relationships with them, cementing loyalty. What happens then?

The only regular communications most customers receive are sterile items which often hold little value for improving customer experience or building loyalty, such as monthly bills and routine, impersonal campaigns.  A CSP executive I spoke to at a recent event admitted that their approach amounted to: “We sold you a package 18 months ago and we haven’t spoken to you since, except for sending you a bill every month, that you don’t even understand.”

With all the data and information customers freely give these days, surely CSPs can communicate better?

No bad language

CSPs are missing a huge opportunity by failing to communicate effectively. In addition, they’re reinforcing the narrative that they’re just a bit pipe with no real value being added. This leaves the door wide open for OTT providers to come in offering exciting new services rather than a list of consumption in meaningless metrics.  Billing communications in particular, can be so much better.  It’s important to watch your language.  A “gigabit” for example, may not mean much to a consumer when listed on their bill, but a “movie download” does.  CSPs need to alter the language in ways that customers understand.

The lack of understanding is a barrier because it can create the impression that something is not quite right, maybe they’re being overcharged, maybe consumption is being over-stated, did I really get my full 3 gigs of data?

Transparency, instead, can be a valuable tool through which an honest relationship can be created and maintained. Transparency builds trust, trust builds loyalty and loyalty means a future customer that will buy more from you. CSPs need to converse with their customers in a way that demonstrates they know and care about them. They need to repackage their offerings in a more relatable and meaningful language that makes sense.

When it comes to research on how important customer centric communications actually are, the data speaks for itself; 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience, reports RightNow, and 60% of consumers will pay more for a better customer experience, says Desk. CSPs typically score among the lowest in customer satisfaction surveys. In July 2016, the UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI), published by the Institute of Customer Service found that telecoms continues to generate the highest number of complaints, with one fifth (20%) of customers having experienced a problem.

Contextualised communications

According to Gartner research 70% of customer communications will be digital, contextualised and consumed on demand via multiple channels, including the web, mobile devices and social media, by 2017.  This is an important statistic that shows the scale of the challenge CSPs face. Customer communications are expected to be digital, delivered across multiple platforms and contextualised. Customers have an expectation today that if they have given you information about themselves and their preferences then you should only ever engage with them with appropriate and relevant communications.  Is that too much to ask?

Creating this type of relationship between your company and your customers can help scale positive word of mouth which is absolutely priceless. There are many ways to make a customer an advocate, companies that do this well typically follow the guidelines below.

  • Follow through on promises: Say what you mean and do what you say
  • Genuinely interact with customers, positive word of mouth get referrals
  • Listen attentively, really hear what customers are saying across a number of platforms
  • Continue to satisfy, offer personalized promotions and specials
  • Build trust, communicate news of any changes – both positive and negative
  • Be transparent, even when mistakes have been made
  • Always say thank you, gratitude goes a long way

Sounds so simple yet CSPs struggle to deliver

At Brite:Bill, we specialize in contextualizing communications for each customer, based on usage patterns combined with factual and behavioural data. Brite:Bill can transform billing communications into a powerful marketing tool.

For CSPs the opportunities are clear, it’s time to move towards more customer-centric contextualised communications that will enhance and build your customer relationships, which in turn will lead to a better more profitable business.

For more information on Brite:Bill’s products or services Contact Us

Orla Power leads Marketing for Brite:Bill and has over 20 years of communications industry experience in strategic and operational marketing.