Telecom Marketers See Need to Build Better Customer Relationships

August 31, 2012

cmocouncil-telecom-marketers-top-customer-engagement-priorities-august2012.pngTelecommunications marketers are seeing a need to forge stronger relationships with their customers, per results [download page] from a CMO Council survey sponsored by Ricoh. Asked their top 3 customer engagement priorities for the year ahead, 47% said they would focus on retaining relationships and building stronger affinity with existing customers, while 40% plan to improve the relevance and value of communication and content. The primary ways in which these marketers say they are currently adding value to customer communications and engagements are by proactively addressing issues, complaints, or concerns (52% citing this among their top 3) and cross-selling or upselling services to increase customer lifetime value (48%).

Marketers Lack Recognition of Customers’ Billing Frustrations

Slightly less than one-third of the marketers said they were looking to add value to their communications by offering clear and easy-to-understand charges and billing communications. These marketers, while in the minority, look be on the right track. According to separate results of the study, the leading complaints mobile subscribers have with their carriers are hidden fees or unexplained costs (21%). Yet, when marketers were asked to select their customers’ top 3 sources of pain, unexpected charges came in 4th on the list, at just 20% of respondents. This suggests that marketers are not fully recognizing customer frustrations on this issue.

Still, marketers are fully aware of customer complaints with service around queries or problems, with 31% selecting this as one of their top 3 pain points, topping the list. This is particularly important, given that 36% of mobile subscribers in the study claim to respond to a negative customer experience by switching carriers.

Data Analytics Said Key to Customer Retention, Profitability

Details from The CMO Council’s “What’s Critical in the Verticals | Telecommunications” indicate that data analytics are becoming a priority for marketers as they seek to gain better insights into their customers. 58% of respondents described the state of their business as adapting to new channels and methods of customer engagement and insight gathering, while 32% said that embracing data analytics to better segment and target key customer constituencies was one of their top 3 factors impacting and influencing their marketing operations. (This factor was second only to tightened marketing budgets, at 57% of respondents.)

While 23% of the marketers surveyed said they are fully confident in their knowledge of customer retention, profitability, and lifetime value, another 65% said they were getting better all the time. The leading way that respondents believe they could improve their visibility in this area is through better access to real-time customer data and analytics, with 59% choosing this among their top 3 factors for improvement.

Other Findings:

  • 64% of telecom marketers have invested in customer data aggregation, analytics, or segmentation platforms or programs in the past 12 months. The most common outcome of the program was segmentation of customers in order to better execute targeted communications (41%).
  • When asked to select their top 3 issues or developments impacting the mobile communications industry today, 47% chose customer expectation for technology innovations and advancements, ahead of customer demand for low/no-fee service with high-touch personalized service (35%). Advertising plays a key role, too: 31% said increased competition has required increased marketing and advertising spend, and 22% pointed to being out-advertised by bigger carriers with bigger advertising budgets. Indeed, according to the mobile subscribers surveyed, among those who had thought about switching carriers in the previous year, the most common reason for doing so was having seen a lot of ads about other companies.

About the Data: The CMO Council data is based on a survey of more than 1,660 global consumers and 147 senior marketers.

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