3 practical strategies for Telcos to help customers through the Covid-19 crisis

6 min. Read

The coronavirus pandemic has forced businesses to innovate and re-strategise approaches to ensure business continuity and keep them afloat. Whilst industries such as retail and the travel industry are most affected by this pandemic, the Telecoms industry is facing a different type of challenge in this turbulent time.

More than ever now, we are relying on Telco operators to keep us connected with everyone, in both our personal and professional lives. Bain and Company reported that Network traffic has surged between 40-70% in some countries during the outbreak, most likely due to the shift en masse of people switching to remote working and learning. This complements our analysis where we found a decrease in number of outbound calls made from mobiles, suggesting that people are using their wireless networks for video conferencing, and VoIP applications more to connect with each other.

What does this mean for Telco operators?

If your customers didn’t pay that much attention to you before, they sure are now.

Telco providers are under immense pressure to keep their networks and services operating smoothly, and at full capacity. Making sure everyone is able to keep connected, telcos are under a lot of scrutiny to maintain and improve network coverage to make sure that there are no disruptions or difficulties for people to connect with each other. This includes sufficient network and data coverage, ensuring that call drops are at a minimum, ensuring minimal disruptions to connect.

It’s a double-edged sword being a service that everyone is relying on. Whilst you have the opportunity to create the best customer experience in Telecoms, you are also vulnerable to making their life under lockdown frustrating. 

This is a critical time for Telcos, the experiences that your customers face during this time could have a push or pull factor to your churn rates.

Especially now that spending behaviours are shifting from non-essential spending to absolute essentials – this could also contribute to long-term change in habits and in turn form values according to Dr Rajesh Bhargave, a consumer behaviour researcher at Imperial College Business School.

How can Telco operators help customers?

Before Coronavirus was declared a pandemic, people were more likely to use their mobile data when in transit – usage confined to commuting times, browsing habits are for quick search things and apps usage limited to those we use regularly such as news apps, social media apps, maps and so on. However, naturally as more people are spending most of their time at home, we can observe some interesting shifts in their mobile usage and lifestyle.

Here we outline our 3 practical strategies for Telcos to help customers and improving customer experience.

1. Offer customers different mobile data subscriptions based on their current data consumption

More people are spending their time at home and doing everything on their Wi-Fi network – more video calls, streaming content, more people on the network etc. Depending on the bandwidth they have at home, this could put a huge strain on the network and potentially cause distress when working or learning from home. You could offer them some comfort by offering to upgrade or downgrade their data packages if you know that they are using more or less than their usual consumption rate in the last couple of weeks.

Pick up on signals that identify if your customers are struggling with their internet connection at home

  • it could be that they’ve purchased a couple of data bolt-ons in the last week, or;
  • searched for broadband providers, or;
  • that they’re on professional apps more on the mobile network

You know your customers more than you think you do, you just need to pick up on the right cues for a clearer picture.

2. If you know their interests, offer something relevant that will make them happy

As mobile operators, the data that you have about your customers gives you all the information you need to create more meaningful connections with your customers – using digital twin technology. The smartphone is the most accurate, most intimate human activity monitor ever invented. As an operator, you know what websites people visit, companies they call and what apps they spend time in. A lot of companies would kill for this insight.

For example, our most recent analysis shows a spike in the health and fitness category within the UK population. Being confined to the spaces of your own home, as with business operations, consumers are finding ways to adapt their lifestyle habits to a new normal. Those who are avid gym goers may have needed to set up a home gym, sign up to an online gym membership or come up with a fitness routine that will work best with their current routine.

Or, it could be that with people spending more time at home, they are looking for more activities to keep them and their families occupied.

An interesting insight would be to see what the breakdown is for those who have just recently shown interest in fitness and health compared to those who have always been interested in it. This could help businesses determine the campaign strategy to implement – either cross-sell or up-sell or a customer acquisition marketing strategy. This insight could be a powerful way for your Marketing teams to hyper-personalise campaigns to engage with customers.

Imagine if you could know that a customer is just about to start a healthier lifestyle and is about to embark on a fitness journey – what could you offer them? A gym trial offer? Or a healthy food delivery subscription to keep them on their diet plan? It’s easier to engage a customer with relevant offers if you know and understand them in a human-like way.

But, use this insight with caution. The knowledge and information you have on them needs to be treated with respect and care. It’s personal. Knowing someone’s interests means you’re crossing a personal boundary with them, so you will need to ensure that you are using insights that protect your customers’ privacy.

3. Care for your customers’ well-being – connect with those at-risk

Your customer service team should have a basic profile of your customers at hand from your CRM data. How about turning your customer service hotline into a crisis hotline to connect with your at-risk customers?

Maybe you have a significant amount of customers who have recently lost their main source of income and are unable to pay their bills. You could offer them a payment scheme option, or cross-sell to a prepaid package. Or if you know that they are in a high-risk group and should not be going out – how about connecting them with a local organisation who is offering to do grocery runs for high-risk individuals?

Humans are deeply emotional creatures – our actions and decisions are not based on logic and rational thinking and instead are guided by our emotions. Knowing that your customers are vulnerable and are potentially going through emotional distress is an opportunity for you to connect with them and strengthen your relationship in a more meaningful way.

Crises often leads to innovation – businesses are often forced to change the way they work and to pivot strategies to ensure continuity. Though the strategies and changes made right now may not give you a short-term gain, the efforts you put in now could create stronger bonds with customers thereby increasing the chances of customer loyalty. Find out how you can be there for your customers and create the best experiences for them using Network data in our latest eBook – The CX Opportunity for Telcos and CSPs.