Mobile phone services today is a really competitive industry — long gone are the 1990s days of premium-priced cellular services, or the 2000’s where data allowances were like gold. Today, we can choose from multiple providers all offering very competitive rates.
Still, to minimize own loss of customers, fixed terms contracts are often employed to keep customers from looking elsewhere for a better deal — for lower costs or better quality.
With lots of options, it’s easy to see why it make sense for a customer to quickly jump to another network when they’re not happy with what their current operator is offering. But when is the best time to jump? What triggers a customer to churn — dropping their current provider for another?
Network quality: key to a smooth app experience
Mobile service providers may have all sorts of internal data that measures their view of customer satisfaction — often centred around metrics covering various aspects of network performance. But the customers using the network will never be interested in network performance statistics. All customers want is this: apps that work — around the clock, and every time the app is used.
It doesn’t matter whether it is Netflix, a popular 3D game or simple chat app — customers want to be able to communicate, complete tasks and enjoy entertainment when it suits them. But this does mean that an operator must have a smooth network around the clock. Unfortunately, this consistency is hard to establish. Instead, customers often switch to the nearest Wi-Fi more often than they like simply because the operator’s network can’t deal with their needs at the time.
In fact, it’s not clear exactly how important network performance is when it comes to retaining a customer. Do users really switch that quickly if they get a couple of videos buffering? Or does it take buffering all day, every day, to make a user switch? It’s not all that easy to tell but we do know that smooth app experiences matter.
Of course, operators need to do all they can do to ensure a smooth network — or at least, where budgets are limited, invest funds in the most optimal way possible. Internal and external data is key to succeeding in this respect.
Here, network data from Netradar Suite helps operators gain insight into two areas that internal network data does not provide as much clarity on. Because Netradar suite collects data on the user’s device it provides unique insights with performance data that more closely reflects the user experience.
Also, Netradar Suite knows which apps users are using — and which apps are giving users consistent problems. This way operators can understand which apps it is that are causing users to get frustrated — and change networks.
Customer care: too often a pain point
Of course, it’s not just the app experience that is make or break for customer retention. Customer service is key too. In a world where operator competition is fierce it can be difficult for operators to find the funds for excellent customer care — and that’s why customer care can be such a pain point for customers, leading to a customer quitting a network.
In fact, it could take just one bad experience — and that’s it, a customer switches. In contrast, the frustrations caused by consistent network issues and problems could be overcome when you’re dealing with a customer service team that’s top notch and always willing to help.
But how about delivering customer service differently? We have all been there: stuck with a really simple problem but waiting for what feels like hours to get through to someone that can help. That needn’t be the case: leading operators can supply device-based tools that can help us fix small issues ourselves.
For example, the Netradar Suite delivers on-device customer care which gives users quick answers to common questions, while simultaneously giving operators device-based insights into the core cause behind a customer care call. It means quicker and more accurate resolution of customer queries, boosting customer retention.
The cost of using cellular services
There’s always something appealing about a good deal. Even if a customer is happy with a network provider, they may be tempted to jump to a competitor to save 10% or 20%.
It’s not just the appeal of a good deal — sometimes network providers can keep customers on expensive plans without reminding them that they can switch. Another point that makes matters more complex: some customers would be willing to buy a mobile service that’s sometimes a bit patchy as long as it’s the cheapest option around.
Either way, customers want good value from their monthly payments — or indeed top-ups. However, poor service and lacking customer experience can leave customers unhappy and very vulnerable to even a small opportunity to save. Indeed, even the smallest network anomaly can lead to a large amount of customer churn as customers are tempted away by a mix of savings and the opportunity for a better service.
Understanding why customers churn
It’s clear that the reasons customers have for leaving a network are complex — price, performance and customer support all play a part. Operators have some relevant data, but rarely the entire picture. Netradar Suite fills in the blanks, providing operators with key benefits including:
- Insight into the app experience. Netradar understands app usage from the user’s perspective, noting when apps are giving users a tough time. In turn, operators can augment internal data to understand which apps are encountering network glitches — and work to iron these out.
- Network anomalies. Every operator network has bright spots — and areas in which performance is not great. Netradar Suite uses advanced AI to highlight where these glitches are causing a degree of customer drop-off so that operators can prioritise improvements.
- Customer care. Operators can offer instant, easily accessible customer care with Netradar’s on-device customer care solution. On-device customer care also has deeper insights into a user’s usage habits to more readily understand the core of a customer care problem.
- Broad customer churn insight. At Netradar we understand the factors behind customer churn, and the Netradar Suite delivers deep, actionable insights into these factors using an easy to interpret dashboard.
All-in-all, Netradar Suite is an excellent way for operators to get the complete picture — augmenting internal statistics with Netradar data to really get to grips with customer pain points.
So, at what point does a customer switch?
Just like any other service provider, cellular operators are there to meet a need — a necessity, in today’s age. Constant internet access wherever we are have become essential, for all intents and purposes.
Customers are likely to switch when they feel that on either a performance or a cost basis their operator just doesn’t meet their requirements. Each customer has slightly different criteria, but there will be a common thread: customers want reliable services backed by competent customer support, all at a reasonable price.
Unfortunately, for operators it means a single wrong step can lead to the loss of a lot of customers. It’s a matter of getting it right 24/7 — and doing so at an excellent price too. Internal analytics tools are essential, but additional data in the shape of the Netradar Suite will allow operators to manage their networks in a way that minimises the risk of customer loss.
How to keep customers from churning
Operator frustrations around customer churn are valid: it’s hard to completely prevent customers from jumping ship given the stiff competition in mobile services. However, here are a couple of strategies that operators can use:
- Retain customers with bundling. By bundling mobile services with mobile broadband, Wi-Fi access and even TV operators can reduce the incentive for a customer to churn, and even out the places where customers perceive reason to churn with high-value, quality services in other aspects.
- Ensure the network meets expectations. It is difficult to please every customer all the time on a network spread across an entire country, but operators should try to meet expectations wherever they can — which of course depends on understanding what those expectations are in the first place.
- Price competitively. Relatively few customers will pay a premium for perfect service, and none will pay a premium for average to poor service. Operators must find ways to price competitively, which includes the need to invest wisely in their networks in order to control costs.
- Brand proposition. Mobile phones are very personal devices and many operators are seeing a competitive advantage based on the way customers perceive their brand. Youthful, lifestyle branding can deliver returns over the staid old branding many operators still cling too.
Of course, the more informed operators are the better — and this is where Netradar Suite delivers a competitive advantage for operators: by delivering deeper, broader insights into the reasons behind customer churn on their networks. We encourage any operator serious about keeping their customers on board to take a look.