How to retain customer loyalty in telecoms

Woman smiling at phone on bus

By Leona Heymerdinguer, Senior Client Director, Blackhawk Network Europe

The telco industry has experienced one of its greatest digital transitions yet. And with the world expecting to access all aspects of ‘life’ virtually it has presented the industry with many fruitful business opportunities. These increased opportunities are attracting more startups and enterprises to the market, which means the already crowded space is about to get even more crowded.

Here are my insights on how to attract, engage and retain loyal customers for your telco business - even when competition is at its toughest.

Deliver a high-quality, reliable product

Almost every adult across the globe will need to access the outside world from home at some point during their day to day life, whether that’s for work or personal reasons. In the past customers would be more accepting of a bad connection or a slow web page load, however the big switch to remote-living has raised expectations on the quality of service received to a level higher than ever before.

Studies have shown that over two-thirds of people now expect to have fast broadband and a good mobile phone signal. And with almost half of consumers reporting broadband issues and a third struggling to get a reliable phone signal, it appears there’s a gap in the telco market for a provider to deliver what customers want.

This ‘gap’ presents a huge opportunity when it comes to attracting and retaining customers. As people increasingly realise the value of a reliable, fast and resilient connection, they will be willing to pay more for a decent service. Because of that quality and reliability will be key to survive the digital-shift. So to win your customers over, make sure your product is better than your competition. 

Security reassurance

The government's Telecommunications Security Act became law in November 2021. This has given new powers to Ofcom to make sure the UK’s telecoms networks are safe and secure.

2021 was a record-breaking year for data breaches. The total number of breaches were up 17% compared to the previous year. Most likely because an extra 400 million new users came online during this period. 

As telco customers use online methods and services more frequently they’re becoming progressively aware about risks to their data, personal information and payment details being used legally. In fact a recent survey confirmed that 61% of online users believe their household could be the target of a cyber attack in 2022.

With the new Security Act in place consumers will be looking to you, their provider, to look after their personal details and keep them safe. Only 25% of homeowners understand how online security works, therefore if you can provide easy-to-use secure measures within your packages you’ll stand head and shoulders above your competitors.

Show your customers that you’re there to look after them, and in return they’ll stick around and look after you.

Price transparency

In 2020, Ofcom announced that all telecom providers would have to notify customers when their contracts were ending in an attempt to encourage consumers to shop around (and not pay over the odds for their services).

Since the announcement, two-thirds (62%) of broadband customers nearing the end of their contract signed up to a new deal with their current provider, or switched to a new one when their existing deal ended. Comparison platforms also unsurprisingly saw a web traffic surge.

As homeowners become more savvy at finding the best lucrative deals, transparency and honesty will be crucial to building your audience’s trust.

Take steps to notify customers when their contracts are up, and tell them what price you can offer them to stay. If you’re not the cheapest, it’s important you tell them and explain why. Perhaps you’re offering a better service, a better package or even a better quality product to justify your price? 

It will be this transparency and honesty that will make your customer remain loyal to you. When a customer trusts a business they’re less likely to shop around.

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.

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

Elsewhere in the market, smaller providers are are trying to attract users with competitive prices. While this is providing ‘value for money’ consumers will still be left wanting and deserving more.

In the crowded telco space right now, along with extremely high user-expectations, we say a hybrid of these three approaches is the best tactic to ensure customers stay loyal and satisfied.

Personalisation and choice

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!

Rewards are a great excuse to engage with your customers in a positive manner. It’s important that you implement plenty of positive engagements, so that if and when the user has a negative experience, the good interactions outweigh it. What’s more, 53% of consumers confirm that great rewards are important to keep them loyal.

Make sure your rewards are relevant and personal though. You may be aware of telco providers trying to attract customers with one-off ‘‘big ticket’ rewards such as the opportunity to attend a popular gig or get the latest TV. While these may attract some customers, is that what consumers really want? Will a one-off gift really be enough to make them stay? From years of experience in the industry, I can tell you, the answer is “no”.

A much better strategy is to offer simple, everyday rewards that can be personalised and tailored to your customers’ individual needs. And the key to further maximising appeal is to offer consumers choice. 

The ‘choice’ could be in the form of:

  • A fixed amount of money loaded onto a prepaid card that can be spent at a variety of popular shops and restaurants
  • A multi-store gift card, such as One4all, that gives customers the opportunity to buy something from a choice of hundreds of retail outlets
  • Or a themed gift card, such as our One4all Favourites Gift Cards, that can feel very personal when targeting a specific audience with a common interest

All of these incentives give consumers something tangible along with that added value that we all desire. Plus, these types of solutions can be branded to you, which makes the experience all the more memorable.

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 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. 

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

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