How to retain customer loyalty in telecoms

Woman smiling at phone on bus


Bigger networks have their perks, but in a market predominantly led by price, the smaller networks are beginning to take a Mo Farah run of the market share.

Ofcom drives change for 2020

Gone will be the days of your contract rolling over without your provider letting you know. Our networks will have to notify us within 40 days of the date that our current contract ends; giving power back to the consumer to seek a better deal. No more roll-over surprises!

Comparison platforms will likely see a surge in search volume as consumers try to establish which provider is actually offering the best price and which are sugar-coating a bum deal. Intermediaries will relish the opportunity of these consumer negotiations, which could set a trend towards the likes of Compare the Market and Uswitch taking a chunk of the traditional direct purchase share.

Consumers demand value; the market needs to change… and quickly

We don’t all necessarily want the latest mobile device or tablet, but the majority of us do want the same things from our providers; a good deal, as much data and airtime as we need, no hidden charges and the flexibility to change our tariff when we want. This, alongside great customer service and being made to feel valued as a customer. Our pockets take a beating month on month, so that’s not too much to ask for, right?

The reality is that our demands are rarely wholly fulfilled, but there are a number of methods that providers could easily use to keep us sweet when it comes to contract renewal.

Added value’ vs ‘value for money’

If your network provider was to offer you value within your everyday life, would you be inclined to stay loyal to them?

Most likely, yes - research shows that over 72% of consumers now demand this kind of value to ensure their custom is retained.

Most of the big networks are offering prize draws, entertainment and discounted bolt on services – arguably an ‘added value’ approach.

The largest network provider in the UK doesn’t currently offer much in the way of loyalty benefits; relying instead on promoting a solid service that outstrips many competitors. Since merging with another of the UK’s most famous household names, they have become the ultimate quad player. We’ll be watching this space to see what they do to combat the OFCOM regulation change – being a much loved ‘big brand name’ just won't be enough now.

Meanwhile, smaller providers are probably ticking off more of our previously identified needs at a cheaper price; therefore providing ‘value for money’. Yet we’re still left wanting and deserving more.

It seems that providers need to implement a hybrid of these two approaches if they are to make a truly significant impact on this changing market.


How often do you connect with your provider on a daily/weekly/monthly basis that’s not linked to a bill payment, complaint or frustration? This is where most of the market is missing a trick!

53% of consumers say that great rewards are important to keep them loyal, but often rewards aren’t relevant or personalised enough. Our providers should get to know us and understand what we as the consumers want to see from their brand – not just rely on location services to convey a customer’s nearest reward.

Currently, big name loyalty programmes aren’t quite hitting the mark either. Maybe we do want to attend a concert for the latest big artist and maybe we do want a new TV if we buy broadband through our provider too… but maybe we don’t! These leading networks are trying to hit home with big headline offers that the majority of us simply aren’t interested in.

The answer? Offer simple, every day rewards based upon categories and retailers that the customer is able to define. Then add more and more personalisation based on how the consumer is interacting.


The opportunity is there to offer customers everyday value whilst building emotional relationships at the same time.

The voucher store is a prime example of how this can be achieved – giving consumers access to gain discounts off their everyday spend such as; grocery shopping, dining out, experiences or even treating ourselves to some retail therapy.

It’s a simple solution and gives a compelling reason for the consumer to connect with the provider in a positive scenario, on a regular basis.


Thriving competition means that incentives have become something we expect. Providers often get this wrong and lead with a single brand like Amazon or merchandise like an Xbox. Short, sharp headlines that align them with the big brands, but don’t necessarily align with the majority of customer expectations.

The key to maximising appeal is to offer the consumer choice. Even as a basic concept, that could be a fixed amount of money loaded onto a prepaid card that we can spend at a variety of popular shops and restaurants.

Multi-store gift cards such as One4all give consumers the choice of hundreds of retail outlets and Choice cards zero in on consumer passion points, providing options within a defined category.

All of these incentives give the consumer something tangible and that added value that we all desire. These solutions work for the provider too as they can be branded – why would you promote another brand over your own?!

The bottom line

Having worked in the industry to support most of the largest telecoms providers with their acquisition and retention strategies over the last decade, it’s safe to say that the industry really hasn’t changed much when it comes to loyalty initiatives.
So, what do all these providers need to do to keep us customers renewing those contracts and making us those oh so special brand advocates? It’s quite simple really – be relevant, try personalisation, give value linked to our everyday lives and yes, a nice unexpected treat now and again would be nice!

Leona Heymerdinguer has worked in the telecoms industry for the best part of 15 years. Moving to Blackhawk Network in 2017, she is now a Senior Client Director for our Telecoms accounts, where she shares her expertise with the team and drives results for the clients she works with.

Leona holds a portfolio of projects with a breadth of network providers, ranging from initiatives that aid customer acquisition to campaigns centred on gestures of good will. Her focus for 2020 is to offer support towards the customer retention side of each business, where she hopes to offer improvement to the loyalty challenges she discusses above.

To get in touch with Leona, or another member of the team, fill out the form to your right.