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How CSPs can safeguard customer loyalty

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Jirsak)

As many businesses have integrated cloud-based telecom services into their operations, there is steeper competition among Communication Service Providers (CSPs). New technologies continue to emerge to make communication even more simple and streamlined than it was in the past. Modern telecom offerings have helped address customer pain points and providers customers with more control over how and when they interact with a business. With tougher competition and changing customer preferences, CSPs that can provide the services and support their customers need will separate themselves from the competition and help reduce customer separations.

Contrary to popular belief, customer loyalty is largely a thing of the past. A 2017 report noted that 77 percent of consumers aren’t as loyal to brands as they were in the past. Customers are favoring brands that can deliver immediacy, transparency and personalized services and businesses are responding to these evolving preferences. As businesses shift to adapt to their customers’ needs, CSPs must tailor their menu of telecom offerings accordingly.

In a saturated market where customer expectations can change rapidly, it can be difficult for CSPs to retain their customers long-term. Knowing the factors that can contribute to customer separations in the telecom space can help CSPs revamp customer loyalty efforts. Taking note of customer pain points goes a long way to providing the right types of services and ultimately may help CSPs win—and sustain—new customers in a competitive market.

Below are four common reasons businesses might choose to switch providers along with some guidance on how CSPs can navigate them.

Inadequate channel choices

A significant reason that a customer might want to get a new provider is that they are hoping to add on new communications channels. They also might be looking to expand their services or bring new business locations online. Businesses are looking to offer more ways to connect with customers, and CSPs that can support these goals are sure to retain more customers. For example, 57 percent of small and medium businesses expect their CSP to be able to support video capabilities for customer care—an increasing need in the era of remote and hybrid work environments.

As demands for newer technology offerings increases, the older channels are not phased out. Instead, businesses want to integrate a blend of modern and traditional telecom resources so they can communicate effectively with their customers. Thus, the more capabilities a CSP can support, the more they’ll be able to attract and retain customers. CSPs that want to maximize channels should consider leveraging telecom APIs through a partnership with a software-centric carrier. APIs enable CSPs to provide voice and messaging solutions that are flexible and scalable. As a bonus, APIs are usually simple to integrate within existing software, making scalability easier. Harnessing APIs can help providers gain a competitive advantage and grow revenue while delivering value for customers.

Budgeting challenges

Budget challenges are another driving force behind customer separations. In some cases, customers may break ties with their CSP after learning that they aren’t able to take advantage of the full breadth of services they’re paying for. In other cases, customers may find more cost-effective options that meet their needs from competing providers.

The best way for CSPs to counter these scenarios is to be as up-front about pricing and what’s included as possible. If possible, they should consider tailor offerings so that customers pay for only the services they need and nothing more. Business IT decision makers should also invest time to research CSPs to have a firm understanding about the support they will need for from their telecom provider. Skipping the vetting process can land the busines overpaying for solutions their customers do not use.

Clear pricing from the CSP and research from the customer side will set both parties up for success. CSPs will be on the road to customer loyalty and customers will have a firm understanding of the value they’re getting for their dollar. Following this guidance will likely help curb instances of customer separations down the line.

Growth limitations

Businesses are increasingly seeking to operate in multiple locations around the globe. Being able to offer support and channels for engagement that work regardless of location is becoming a business imperative for companies in our globalized world. In tandem with this, CSPs must be able to offer services and tools that support their customers’ expansion efforts and allow them to seamlessly build on existing channels. CSPs that aren’t able to help customers meet these goals may lose out on business from globally minded businesses.

To ensure they can support customer growth, CSPs might consider offer international direct inward dialing (DID) numbers. These are virtual phone numbers that make it possible for carriers to route calls directly to an existing number. DIDs are one way for businesses to use a number that’s local for new or expanded markets. Businesses can use DIDs to strengthen their global communication strategies and give more flexible options for their customers to engage with them. As the global marketplace expands, enterprises will certainly be looking to partner with CSPs that can give them the tools needed to be more successful in the global marketplace.

Poor customer service

An unfortunate, yet understandable cause of customer separation is unsatisfactory customer service. It’s clear that high-quality customer service is an important competitive differentiator, with more than 80 percent of companies noting that they anticipate competing for business based on the experiences they are able to deliver to their customers.  At the same time, business have high expectations from their CSPs and are interested in partnering with providers that have a proven ability to provide support.  With so much at stake, providing top-notch customer service is essential for CSPs.

There are a few best practices that may be useful in this area. Being able to serve customers better could start with asking for their input as providers innovate and research new services. Making sure that there are processes in place to keep customers in the loop is important too. CSPs could make it a practice to inform customers of their service status, product or service updates and predicted time to resolve issues. As always, gathering and incorporating customer feedback speaks volumes about the CSP’s level of customer care. The more that enterprises can rely on their CSPs to deliver what they need most, the better business will be for the CSP.

To set themselves apart from the competition, it’s essential for CSPs to understand what their customers need most and the underlying causes of separation. Anticipating these issues and being proactive about the solutions to prevent concerns will help mitigate operations. Providers should take note of these causes and ensure their solutions can help businesses meet their current goals and can scale to meet the needs of growing companies. CSPs that are mindful of these common challenges are well-suited to secure new customers and reduce customer separations.

Darach Beirne, vice president of customer success, Flowroute

Darach Beirne is vice president of customer success at Flowroute, now part of Intrado. Darach leads Flowroute’s dedicated customer support team, driving strategy for customer success and improved customer satisfaction.