How telecom and utilities can prevent churn by forfeiting the ‘lowest price’ war


But it seems that service providers are so occupied with looking outwards to create a digital renaissance through customer acquisition and predicting behavior, that there’s something still missing. How can telcos and utility services look to the resources they have at their fingertips, to create additional spheres of value which connect with their existing customers, beyond just competing on price? 

How can they convert disconnected contract-holders, into delighted brand advocates? 

The rising tide of clumsy targeting 

Telecoms and utilities providers sit at a critical juncture in offering value to existing customers by reaching them in the right way. Customers have had enough of irrelevant incentives and poorly timed offers, which only yield frustration. Companies lose eyeballs to ad-blockers, and turn potential repeat customers into churners when the time comes to renew their contract. 

Of course, timing is everything when it comes to engaging, keeping and upgrading the contract value of customers. Understanding whether they’re displaying tell-tale signs of switching to a competing service doesn’t stem from drawing your own conclusions via their interactions with remote digital channels, or inferring whether they’re in a family-of-three or a single homeowner. This only helps to inform context.

Understanding whether they’re at this pivotal moment stems from knowing, based on the information your customer willingly gives to you, when their contract is expiring or when they may be unhappy. Not waiting until it’s too late, but proactively offering them the self-service facilities they need, or the offer they can’t refuse, before the opportunity is lost. 

Rewarding your existing customers

We are seeing signs of change in service providers proactively offering value to existing customers. Value-added services are becoming a key global strategy factor for telcos: just take a look at Hutchison 3, who later in 2017 introduced an advertising display to smartphone lock-screens, giving users the opportunity to earn free data by saying ‘yes’ to the adspace. 

This introduction of additional services offers a new revenue stream, as well as a new differentiator within a crowded market. How can you apply this simple principle of rewards-based value to your retention strategy? 

The answer, as is the case with many of life’s most burning questions, sounds simple and sits right in front of you. Customer data - or first-party data - is the key to not only telling the difference between your most cherished contract holders, those who are about to switch, and those who are on the verge of becoming customers. It’s the foundation of your customer engagement strategy; a way to establish an ongoing conversation through direct points of interaction you hold with them, from service enquiries and contract history to logged complaints.

It means using these data points to fuel rewards-based interactions. Have they stuck with you through thick and thin? Make them feel special with an extended product trial just for them, or a gift on their birthday to show you appreciate them. It may mean the difference between churn,  and keeping that valuable customer with you for the foreseeable future with a just-for-them service package. In short, a route to making their day. 

Adding self-service by smartening the right data

It doesn’t stop there. Your customers can compare offers, products, delivery options and costs in a click - so make sure they can serve themselves sufficiently, and efficiently, in a click too. 

Findings suggest that 70% of customers expect a company’s website to include a self-service application, and half of customers think it’s crucial to be able to solve service issues themselves. This doesn’t mean removing the human touch from utility-based service strategies, but adding an intelligent, intuitive digital service offering, by applying the data which forms the basis for your customer relationships. This not only adds convenience for them, but creates a sense of shared value between created between business and customer; a reason for them to stay rather than stray to your competitor.

In a world based around mapping peoples’ digital footprints, there’s a lot to be said for getting out there and asking your customer one-to-one what it is they want. Unfortunately, if you have more than three million customers like energy provider Nuon, this isn’t so scalable. And so, mirroring these one-to-one interactions based on the information your customers give you, via technology, is the next best thing. This also gives you a baseline for scale: quality breeds quality, and rather than starting straight from nebulous big data derived from someone else’s audience, this means you can build from the ground up using conversation points with clear origins. 

Customer data should (and can) be used as the basis for your customer conversations - and conversions; time and time again.

This is when leaders in utilities marketing evolve from purveyors of an ongoing price war, to create a more nuanced understanding of how to pitch true value to each customer; through reaching them smarter and building a stronger, long-lasting relationship at every interaction. 

Utilities Insights hub: Building loyalty through customer data

Customer satisfaction ladders up to customer retention, loyalty, and advocacy — and it all starts with better personalization through customer data. Get the best new strategies and insights in our insights hub: 

Utilities Insights Hub

Building Loyalty through customer data


Our telecoms and utilities customers are winning the data-driven marketing game by competing on customer experience from day one. Here is a collection of our best learnings for making advocates out of bystanders: