49% of South Africans Would Change Their Mobile Operator if They Could

Mobile use in South Africa has boomed in recent years— research from Nielsen showed that about 29 million South Africans are using mobile phones, compared to just five million people who use landlines. That growth is only expected to continue, which means that there’s a big opportunity for communications service providers (CSPs) hoping to break new ground and build relationships with new customers.

However, it may be time to reconsider the current customer base first. A recent study commissioned by Comptel shows that, among South African consumers, a whopping 49 percent would consider switching their mobile operator if given the option. Sure, some said that they would switch only if presented with a better offer, but that doesn’t change the fact that there is significant churn potential.

Considering that telecommunications consultant tefficient estimates that CSPs spend about 20% of their revenues trying to prevent this from happening, finding out how to improve customer loyalty should be a top priority. But how can it be done?

Rethinking Relationships

In the rush to deploy new technologies and networks, CSPs can sometimes overlook the real core of their success: customer relationships. Comptel has found that personal interaction is exactly what customers want. According to the survey, more than half of South Africans want their mobile operator to communicate with them at every touch point—including when they’re experiencing poor connections (69 percent), need a new service (50 percent) or are joining the service for the first time (56 percent).

Of course, with more than 29 million South Africans using mobile devices, figuring out individual customers’ unique behaviours and circumstances can be difficult, to put it mildly…but it’s worth it. The CSPs that can personally engage customers with the right message, at the right time and in the right way are going to be the ones that stand out from the competition.

Again, it goes back to relationships. If customers feel that their CSP is aware of their needs and working hard to proactively interact with them, like creating and offering a service package to accommodate a new desire, then loyalty will follow. Imagine if a customer called a support line, and rather than being asked dozens of questions, the representative could automatically pull up the customer’s information and immediately suggest an appropriate solution. What if this could be done before the customer even called in with a complaint?

Better yet, what if marketing could detect which customers would more likely benefit from certain kinds of upgrades based on their data usage patterns and behaviours, and proactively enticed them with an upsell?

Comptel’s survey found that 58 percent of the South Africans surveyed said that they were likely to pay for a temporary upgrade for bandwidth if given the option. Finding those customers and handing them the solution won’t just build lasting relationships—it will help CSPs’ bottom lines.

Using Analytics to Prepare for a Network’s Future

The need for a personal touch will become critical as more CSPs deploy LTE networks across South Africa, considering there’s convincing evidence that mass-marketing LTE services isn’t the most effective way to generate revenue.

By using analytics to target the right customers, CSPs can segment locations and groups most likely to benefit from a service upgrade or a new handset. That way, customers get personalised promotions they find relevant, and CSPs know that they’re offering the right things to the right audiences.

Leveraging Big Data to forecast future trends and habits can also help reduce churn, simply by ensuring that CSPs can reach at-risk customers with promotions before they decide to change carriers.

The Age of the Personal Solution

One of the most valuable insights from Comptel’s survey was that nearly half of South Africans said they enjoyed personal offers from their CSPs. However, 33 percent said that if an offer was irrelevant, then they considered it spam.

This is a difficult line for CSPs to tread and really highlights the difference between promotions and relationships. Sending a customer an offer doesn’t build a relationship. Sending a customer a relevant offer does.

In the age of the personal solution, CSPs will have to learn to use Big Data to create more nuanced interactions…or they may always have a nearly 50% churn risk.


Andrew Gavin is Business Development Manager at Comptel, based in Johannesburg, South Africa

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