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Avoid Customer, CSP Separations and Boost Customer Loyalty

By Darach Beirne, Vice President of Customer Success at Flowroute, now part of Intrado

The cloud-based telecom provider market is brimming with competition. New technologies continue to emerge that are simplifying and streamlining communication. Customer preferences are also evolving in tandem, which create pain points as Communication Service Providers (CSPs) adjust to meet their needs.

Modern telecom offerings have helped address customer pain points and provide consumers with more control over how and when they interact with a business. In a saturated market where customer preferences can change rapidly, it can be difficult for CSPs to retain their customers long-term. Knowing the factors that can contribute to 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. Yet, despite the focus on keeping up with evolving preferences, maintaining customer loyalty is challenging. In fact, McKinsey reports that 75% of consumers have altered their brand preferences in the last year. As a result of these shifts, CSPs providing telecom services to enterprises must work harder than ever at customer retention.

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

Channel Options and Financial Restrictions

Businesses may choose to find a new telecom provider because they want to add communications channels that the provider doesn't extend. For example, the enterprise may be increasing the communications services they offer to customers (i.e., in-app messaging or one-touch calling). CSPs can expand their offerings and support these communication needs by including telecom tools that facilitate collaboration and real-time interaction. CSPs can do this by partnering with a software-centric carrier and leveraging telecom APIs. APIs are the gateway for CSPs to provide reliable, flexible and scalable voice and messaging solutions for their customers.

On the other end of the spectrum, businesses might find that they are not utilizing all the services they are paying for from the CSP. Businesses that are closely evaluating their IT spending are going to seek the most cost-effective choice that meet their needs and their financial goals. CSPs can offer support by being transparent about what services and benefits they offer. Businesses must also ensure they map out the tools they need and the budget they have available before beginning negotiations with a provider. Once negotiations are underway, CSPs should assess their customers' needs to ensure they are the right fit as provider and that they are transparent about how equipped they are to handle their requests. Businesses may need a managed service provider (MSP) that offers tailored services if they know their communication needs will shift over time. The flexibility to pick and choose offerings gives the business control of their telecom resources and ensures they only pay for what they use.

Lackluster Customer Service

Customer service is more important than ever, and enterprises are expecting more from their CSPs. They want providers to have a strong reputation of delivering quality customer support before entering into service agreements with them. Many customers rely on peer reviews - public and from peers - to determine the reputation of service providers. For example, 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to make a purchase after reading a trusted review. Further, Gartner states that more than 80% of companies say they anticipate competing for business solely on customer experience. As such, it's vital for carriers and CSPs to pay close attention to the level of care they provide to their customers.

CSPs that excel in customer service often include their customers in the early stages of developing new offerings. After all, providers should be focused on delivering customer-centric solutions. CSPs will also want to keep customers informed of service status, product or service updates, and predicted time to issue resolution. Other best practices in customer support include soliciting customer feedback throughout the relationship and keeping a record of all previous interactions with a customer. With relevant context, customer support reps can make more informed decisions on how they manage the customer and what the customer values from a support team.

Capped Flexibility and International Growth

The past year has affected businesses of all sizes in different ways. However, a crucial lesson many businesses have learned, is the value of flexibility to adapt to market changes. Enterprises that are experiencing growth need additional support and channel options for engagement that can function efficiently in whatever stage of growth they're in. Enterprises that are scaling back might also need support in to downsize their communications tools or services they are using. In addition, businesses need communications resources that can seamlessly connect remote and hybrid teams to be able to support employees and customers using a variety of communications channels (i.e., messaging, video, calling, etc.). CSPs should provide services that flexibly scale based on customer needs and easily add or remove users based on need.

Further, businesses are increasingly conducting business on a global scale, so establishing a local presence across the world is imperative for many companies. CSPs and their carriers can offer international direct inward dialing (DID) numbers to customers looking to increase their global footprint. DIDs are virtual numbers that allow carriers to route calls directly to an existing phone number. They provide businesses with a local presence in new or existing markets by utilizing local numbers, regardless of the originating call's location. Businesses opt for international local and toll-free cloud numbers to strengthen their global communication strategies and gain more control and flexibility over how they interact with their customers. CSPs that offer the in-demand solution position themselves as a leader in supporting international communications.

Customer preferences are constantly shifting. As such, there are a variety of reasons a company might choose to separate from its communications provider. With a general understanding of what might lead to a separation, CSPs can turn their operational weaknesses into strengths and increase their competitive edge in the saturated provider market. By delivering quality customer service, clear cost structure, comprehensive communication capabilities and flexibility will enhance customer satisfaction and overall loyalty.

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About the Author

Darach Beirne 

Darach Beirne is vice president of customer success at Flowroute, now part of Intrado. With more than 25 years of experience building and leading B2B customer success, Darach leads Flowroute's dedicated customer support team, driving strategy for customer success and improved customer satisfaction. Prior to joining Flowroute, Darach lead professional service and sales engineering teams for providers such as Contenix, Huawei/3Leafsytems, InQuira, Siebel/Scopus and Ingres. He also has assisted high-tech companies develop strategies to improve the customer experience and increase scalability.

Published Thursday, February 11, 2021 7:39 AM by David Marshall
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