This Industry Viewpoint was contributed by Giles House, CMO of CallidusCloud
Like few other industries, telecom seems resigned to churn. The average number of subscribers who voluntarily deactivate each month is huge. According to market research firm Ovum, almost half of existing customers could switch carriers before the end of 2015. Ovum asserts that about a quarter of all users say they will definitely switch to another provider, while another quarter are actively considering changing.
Much of that churn is driven by dissatisfaction with service – even a single bad customer experience can motivate a customer to reactivate elsewhere. This problem is amplified by the fact that channel and in-house reps are often on different pages when it comes to customer service. Reducing churn should start by addressing this discrepancy – by reconciling disparities in service at the channel level, providing a consistently positive experience, and using data to measure and improve those efforts.
How do customers feel about their interactions with your channel providers? Which tactics or practices alienate consumers, and which drive sales and satisfaction?
Methodically gathering this data is vital to reducing churn. Telecoms can’t passively wait for customers to tell them what’s working and what needs to change – that’s not how anything in sales works. Collection of customer feedback must be actively built into each customer interaction.
Automated survey solutions, for example, can be triggered by a sale to gather feedback. It can be a simple 10-second survey or a more complex questionnaire that asks customers to rate their experiences. Telecoms can also find rich mines of data within online communities. Analyzing customer comments, social posts, and boards can provide valuable insights into both positive and negative consumer experiences.
Customer segmentation is another important component to understanding churn and its costs. Telecoms must identify who is most likely to churn and where retention efforts should focus in order to maximize lifetime customer value.
Acting on the data
Once you know who’s defecting and why, how do you promote customer-retaining interactions and influence channel behaviors?
Smart onboarding is clearly the first step: choosing sound channel partners with data-driven systems in place. Training and sales coaching must be ongoing, comprehensive and incentivized so that channel reps have a complete understanding of your offerings, your sweet-spot audience, the do’s and don’ts of a positive sales experience, and how getting it right pays off.
Putting the right technology in place will also help you drive sales and channel growth, maximize cross -sell and up-sell, and battle soaring customer acquisition costs by improving the customer experience.
Tools you should look for include the ability to:
- Drive your sales channels' performance, and support new product launches with SPIFs, bonuses and incentives.
- Provide a single view of sales performance by channel, store, product, and region.
- Gather real-time feedback on your sales and channel professionals and enable managers to coach for greater sales success.
- Configure customized bundles that support multiple pricing models and enable your sales channels to maximize the value of every deal with up-sell and cross-sell recommendations.
- Encourage competition between sales teams and dealers, and train them quickly, on any device to boost knowledge and productivity.
- Access powerful analytics to predict results and take proactive measures.
Beyond tools and technology, what’s needed for telecoms to be more profitable is a new mindset – one that focuses on rewarding retention and loyalty instead of sustaining churn.
Giles House is the Senior Vice President of Marketing & Alliances, and Chief Marketing Officer of CallidusCloud. He is responsible for the company’s global marketing activities, communications, brand and sales enablement programs. He has served a variety of channel, sales and marketing roles at CallidusCloud in EMEA. Prior to joining CallidusCloud, Giles has worked at international software and SaaS companies including SAP.