Deal with unhappy customers pre-churn

25 Mar 2015

There are many problems that face telecoms operators today. Network congestion, investment challenges, dissatisfied customers, but probably the one that continues to keep CEOs awake at night is churn.

Churn is proof-positive that if customers think that the service is bad enough they will jump ship. Loyalty, particularly from pre-paid customers is also at the mercy of cheaper service elsewhere. Last year, it was reported that churn was running at between one and two percent in the US last year. That may not sound like a big problem but take a carrier with over 40 million customers — and you get the point.

To counter churn, operators have tried many approaches over the years. Having a network that does what the marketers say it can do should be a given and it goes a long way towards combating churn. The bundling of products and services certainly works by making the customer more “sticky” — the theory being that is too much trouble to quit parts of the bundle.

Solving customer queries and complaints right the first time also works — screwing up, solving the problem, apologizing and being human works remarkably better than it should. However, putting pushy salesmen into customer service and trying to sell deserting customers back into your world is probably the most offensive and least effective way of operating.

Now, though, after many, many presentations, conferences, papers, articles and discussions, it seems that analytics also works — in the field. Vodafone, the giant that posted revenues of around £40 billion (about $40 billion) last year has boosted its revenues by between one and two percent, “thanks to real-time anticipatory selling propelled by big data analytics.”

Although it is not clear just how much of their customer base they are addressing with analytics, it seems they are definitely using the technique to offer prepaid customers deals as their spending patterns change and balances drop below a certain point.

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