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Telecoms Onboard Customers for the Long Haul

The transition from purchase to customer is a critical step in the customer lifecycle that must be maximized if Communication Service Providers (CSPs) want to increase customer loyalty and lifetime value. Getting customers to adopt the product or service and use it efficiently and effectively will determine the nature of the relationship your company is able to build with them.
One critical mistake that telecoms make is to assume that—once a consumer becomes a customer—that they’re all one segment to be dealt with in the same way. This is a critical mistake that can cause newer customers to become dissatisfied and ultimately defect at higher rates than the company is used to recording for attrition and churn.
In our work with Telecom clients, research has shown consistently that new customers have much different needs than customers with longer tenure. For example, tenured customers generally call to resolve a single issue, such as a billing issue or to change their service plan.
When we compared call patterns between new customers and those with longer tenure, we found that there were, on average, six issues that new customers needed to resolve during the first several months of their relationship with the client. Since the new customers called each time an issue or two presented, they were calling customer service more often which resulted in higher dissatisfaction that leads to defection.
The client was also relying on the customers to initiate the calls, rather than working in a proactive manner to ensure that customers were educated sufficiently to use the service comfortably and competently.

Steps to Improving New Customer Onboarding:

  • Start by reviewing new customer calls, activity histories and completed customer satisfaction surveys.
  • Identify the reasons for new customer calls, such as questions about their new plan, setting up the billing cycle, handset queries, and define the most common top questions.
  • Train customer service agents on the responses to those questions so that they can be answered succinctly and clearly to promote customer understanding and issue resolution.
  • Instruct customer service agents to probe farther than the issue the new customer called to address to see if there is more than one issue that can be resolved during that same call.
  • Update your self-service resources and materials to provide answers to the top questions you’ve identified and then take the opportunity while the new customer is on the call to educate them about how they can find the answers via the interactive voice response system, the company’s website or a customer community portal.

The Payoffs from Developing a New Customer Approach

By acknowledging that new customers have different needs than longer-tenured customers, the client was able to reverse the trend of higher new customer defections, as well as to deliver increased value to the business.

  • Within the contract period, the call volume from new customers had decreased by 6%, producing a cost savings of over $1M for the client
  • By altering the segmentation of their customers and the processes for serving them, the client was able to reverse the defection rate and increase customer satisfaction by 10%

It’s important for CSPs to remember that every customer service agent’s interaction with customers—whether new or tenured—contributes to the customer experience. In the age of the customer, that’s what counts. By creating segmented approaches based on specific customer situations and needs, you’ll find that it’s easier to meet business objectives, improve key performance indicators and build loyalty for the long haul of the customer relationship.