Beyond customer acquisition: Embrace proactive engagement across customer lifecycle
By : Nikhil Mittal
According to a recent study by Rosetta, a customer engagement focused agency –
‘Engaged customers buy 90% more frequently and spend 60% more per transaction’
Engaged customers are the ideal customers to have, more so in the telecom industry with fierce competitive dynamics emerging across traditional and digital players. To stay competitive and be profitable in the present business scenario, telcos’ need to rethink their customer engagement strategy that enable them to develop and retain customers ‘for life’ rather than merely go on an acquisition rampage. Proactive customer engagement instills a strong connection between a consumer and a brand that is strengthened over time, resulting in mutual value. Telcos across the world have established vast experienced teams tracing panoramic consumer affair and analyse customer behaviour on various parameters in order to plan their campaigns accordingly – feeding personalised offerings to the customers.
Customer Lifecycle: The next frontier of sustainable growth
In the acquisition-based business models of the past, the critical success factors were strength in conventional above-the-line marketing, mass market promotion and routine customer service. In modern days, post customer acquisition, the marketers need to differentiate and personalize customer interactions for optimising the value of each customer by formulating a strategy around:
- Customer Stickiness – How to ensure customer fidelity?
- Customer Growth - Have we explored all opportunities for cross-sell and up-sell?
- Customer Advocacy – Have we delivered a differentiated experience to customers to command recommendations?
Hence, Customer journey beyond offer acceptance becomes paramount for a marketer. It is actually the stepping stone in strengthening customer stickiness, growth and advocacy.
Economics of maximising customer lifetime value: Addressing complex customer journeys
Marketers need unique ways to acquire, serve, nurture and grow customer relationships. They need to constantly devise campaign on two dimensions:
- Acquisition campaign
- Lifecycle Campaign
While acquisition campaign will anchor onboarding the target customers for a certain offer (with advanced segmentation algorithms), lifecycle campaign will hold interventions in the customer journey once an offer is accepted, to maximise customer lifetime value.
Acquisition Campaign: The gateway to customer value
Customers nowadays are more educated and informed, hence, telcos need to provide an experience in line with their expectations. Telecom being a data intensive industry empowers marketers to astutely execute marketing campaigns. For example, in one of deployments with a major Telco, more than 180 subscriber KPIs were made available for driving right interaction with the customers and promote the most relevant offers across channels.
Relevant and real-time offer promotions are then integrated across channels such as:
- Traditional channels:
- OBD ( Outbound Dialer)
- SMS ( Short Messaging Service)
- USSD ( Unstructured Supplementary Service Data)
- IVR ( Interactive Voice Response)
- Customer Care
- Digital channels:
- Digital self-care App
- Web channel
- Social media
A customer will be considered a conversion based on marketer’s deemed desirable action. Accepting an offer or a certain quota of KPI utilization within a certain time-bound window are typical models for tracking conversions. Customer lifecycle journey begins once a conversion is achieved, opening an opportunity window for the marketer to unleash various engagement activities throughout the lifecycle.
Lifecycle Campaign: Opportunity to maximise customer value
Acquiring a customer is not merely a conversion number, but also an opportunity to grow the relationship to its full potential. An engaged customer is like a wonderful friend who will be always there for you. Hence, customer journey needs to be planned meticulously and should aim to deliver a superior experience over time. Classic engagement lifecycle stages must include: onboard, serve, stem, and retain.
Onboard: Create your first grand impression
In the words of Kevin McCarthy –“My belief is you have one chance to make a first impression”.
This stage will involve a welcome greeting to the customer acting towards enhancement and affirmative customer impression sharing the bundle of benefits with the customer.
Serve: Engage and empathise
Proactive customer engagement is a series of activities – from real-time alerts and reminders, to listening customer feedback. This is actually a stage where customer reservation for future is seeded.
Stem: Reap all cash opportunities
No marketing intelligence is better than a well-timed and well executed communication. A marketer needs to leverage every single opportunity during the lifetime to cross-sell / up-sell all relevant propositions to the customer.
Retain: The final marketer trial
“It takes years to win a customer and only seconds to lose one.” – Catherine DeVrye
Think of all the long hauls and tough grind done to acquire a customer. Nothing can be more severe for a marketer than a customer deciding to part ways. One needs to anticipate all possible signals to identify customer with high churn risk and drive proactive communication through validity reminders and targeted retention offers.
Proactive engagement across customer lifecycle: Case in point
Let us revisit the abstraction using an example. Marketers’ objective is to grow penetration for Offer X and leverage the customer journey afterwards.
Offer X has the following propositions:
Entire campaign anatomy and customer journey can be mapped as follows:
Interventions across customer lifecycle journey
Effective customer lifecycle management (CLM) can enable powerful customer interaction strategies that power significant business growth and profitability. Proactive interventions across customer journey can help telcos maximise revenue and margin at every step along the consumer decision journey, from acquisition to upsell/cross-sell to loyalty and retention to active advocacy. Below are the set of customer engagement activities planned across the customer lifecycle, post-acquisition:
- Onboarding: An introductory welcome message to the customer reiterating the benefits of the offer subscribed
- Friends and Family (FNF) Reminder: Prompt message to avail FNF subscription available as a part of offer benefit
- Core data reminder: Interventions on the basis of customer’s offer’s data usage such as:
- Provoke message in case data usage ~100% the quota after N number of days before validity expiry
- Balance reminder: Real-time trigger communication in case customer’s balance falls below a certain threshold
- Validity reminder: Cue message for offer expiry
- Loan promotion: Customer will be prompted for a data / talk-time loan in case available quota is exhausted
Be the bridge and make customer’s journey memorable
The customer experience consists of multiple moments of truth across the lifecycle. Marketers need to build a cohesive communications strategy across the entire customer journey, from first contact to care. Timing is everything. The goal is to send the right message to the right customer at the right time and through the right channel to increase customer response rate. But it’s not just about the message; it is also about the interactivity of the dialogue across the customer life cycle. Marketers must reach out to customers proactively to prevent churn and increase loyalty, using a wide variety of customer incentives and rewards. To achieve truly personalized cross-channel interactions, marketers must use a combination of the right tools to accommodate individual behaviors and preferences, integrate interactions across multiple channels and learn from the outcomes of prior communications to maximise customer value.