Sprint Rewards Research

Part
01
of four
Part
01

Best Practices - Keeping Consumers Engaged in Loyalty Programs

Best practices that keep consumers engaged in loyalty programs by telecommunication companies include offering loyalty program rewards that are relevant to their consumer base and that are worthwhile to consumers in terms of value, using mobile technology in engaging customers during the duration of rewards programs in addition to or over physical alternatives, and using a multichannel marketing strategy in the promotion of customer loyalty programs. We have detailed our findings and research strategy in the sections that follow below.

LOYALTY PROGRAM REWARDS ARE RELEVANT AND WORTHWHILE

MOBILE TECH IN REWARD PROGRAMS OVER PHYSICAL ALTERNATIVES

CONSUMER LOYALTY PROGRAMS ACROSS MULTIPLE CHANNELS

RESEARCH STRATEGY:

We began research by specifically searching for best practices on keeping customers engaged in loyalty programs within the telecommunication industry. We first searched for this information in the websites of key U.S.-based telecommunication companies like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. However, with this strategy we did not find any specific information that we could use to derive relevant best practices.

Next, we moved our search to general press release and news resources that included PR Newswire, GlobeNewswire, CNN, Reuters, and Forbes. Our hope was that we could identify specific information that we could use to derive best practices on consumer engagement in loyalty programs within the telecommunication industry. However, with this strategy, we were still unable to find specific information that was relevant to our research objectives.

Lastly, we targeted telecommunication industry blogs and scholarly sources in our search for information that we could use to derive relevant best practices. This search was conducted in resources that included Telco Professionals, Telecompaper, and, Google Scholar. With this strategy, we were only able to identify general telecommunication news that was not usable in creating relevant best practices for customer engagement in loyalty programs.

We then shifted our focus to multi-industry best practices for keeping consumers engaged in loyalty programs. Through this shift, we were able to find multiple resources that provided information on best practices that applied to a range of industries including the telecommunication industry. Consequently, we went through these best practices and identified the most relevant ones. After identifying the most relevant and applicable best practices in regard to the telecommunication industry, we searched for specific examples of U.S.-based telecommunication companies that have ever used the identified best practices to improve consumer engagement in loyalty programs.
Part
02
of four
Part
02

Loyalty Programs - Most Successful: United States Telecom Industry

Two of the more-successful loyalty programs in the U.S. telecom industry are T-Mobile Tuesdays and AT&T Thanks.

findings

1. t-mobile tuesdays

  • The T-Mobile Tuesdays loyalty program provides T-Mobile customers with exclusive deals, prizes, and/or free giveaways every week on Tuesdays.
  • Those promotions are included within its T-Mobile Tuesdays app.
  • The free giveaways offered through the program are for/redeemable through companies such as Panda Express, Denny's, Dunkin' Donuts, Groupon, Petco, Shell, and Redbox, among others.
  • Additionally, T-Mobile always gives away its own products through the loyalty program, such as hats and backpacks, which customers can redeem in a T-Mobile store. Prizes are also awarded through the T-Mobile Tuesdays program, such as vacations, gift cards, and smartphones, among others.
  • One reason why T-Mobile Tuesdays has been successful at keeping customers engaged is because of the many offers provided to customers, which has fueled the participation in the program.
  • To demonstrate the program's reach, the following are statistics we found about customers' participation in T-Mobile Tuesdays: (1) "205 million fun freebies and deals" have been redeemed through the program since its inception in 2017; (2) More than "239 million gallons of gas" have been pumped by T-Mobile Tuesdays members; (3) 50 million discounted/free food offers have been used, (4) "1.3 million gallons of free coffee" have been consumed, (5) "52 million hours of movies" have been watched; (6) "38 million entertainment offers" have been redeemed, and (7) "20 million transportation offers" have been redeemed.
  • A second reason why T-Mobile Tuesdays has been successful at keeping customers engaged is because of its strong emphasis on providing awesome deals to customers. As an illustration of that, T-Mobile's CEO, John Legere, stated: "Our customers are a big freaking deal, so we’re gonna keep bringing them big…freaking…deals. When we say we won’t stop, we mean it."

2. at&t thanks

  • AT&T Thanks is a loyalty program that provides AT&T customers with promotions and perks.
  • The program is unique in that it doesn't require customers to accumulate points or even signup in order to be eligible for and redeem the offers. As such, the loyalty program has been described as one that "goes where others can’t" and is "[u]nlike other loyalty programs."
  • The offers and perks provided through the program are for dining, live music, enhanced services through AT&T, and entertainment.
  • Dining offers are available for restaurants such as Corner Bakery Cafe, while entertainment offers include event tickets and VIP experiences.
  • Music offers include "[u]p-close shows . . . [and] pre-sale tickets," while enhanced services from AT&T include "[a]ccess priority inventory, same-day delivery and other premium services."
  • One reason why AT&T Thanks has been successful at keeping customers engaged is because AT&T listens to feedback from customers and then provides personalized experiences that are in-line with what customers really want.
  • A second reasons why AT&T Thanks has been successful at keeping customers engaged is because AT&T "offer[s] multiple ways and plans customers can choose [from] to connect to [its] rewards programs."
  • A third reason why AT&T Thanks has been successful at keeping customers engaged is because it provides local offers in an "effort to engage with customers where they are."

your research team applied the following strategy:

We identified two of the more-successful loyalty programs in the U.S. telecom industry in two ways. First, we reviewed numerous articles about U.S. telecom loyalty programs, in order to identify the mainstream programs. Some of the sources we consulted for that were ACN and MacRumors. A main article we consulted for T-Mobile was titled "Verizon Takes on T-Mobile With Revamped Loyalty Program." We reasonably inferred from that title that T-Mobile is a top, if not the top, loyalty program within the telecom industry per the wording that "Verizon [t]akes on T-Mobile" (which we interpreted to mean that T-Mobile is the leader). For AT&T, one of the articles we consulted described the AT&T Thanks program as one that "goes where others can’t" and is "[u]nlike other loyalty programs."

Second, we ensured that those two loyalty programs are indeed among the more-successful loyalty programs in the U.S. telecom industry by finding the app ratings and number of downloads for the aforementioned loyalty programs. We did so because the ratings of those apps would demonstrate the programs' popularity among consumers and the number of downloads would, in part, demonstrate their consumer engagement. The T-Mobile Tuesdays app has a 4.8/5 rating on the App Store, based on 121,600 reviews. The AT&T Thanks app has a 4.7/5 rating based on 156,300 reviews. Collectively, this approach enabled us to identify the aforementioned loyalty programs as two of the more successful loyalty programs in the U.S. telecom industry.
Part
03
of four
Part
03

Cause Of Churn - Telecom Industry: Loyalty Programs

From our findings, some of the largest causes of churn in the telecom industry's loyalty programs and retention rates in the United States include ineffective loyalty programs, increasing competitive alternatives, loyalty program members forgetting they are enrolled in programs, companies offering unappealing rewards in their loyalty programs, and the absence of win back strategies that companies can use to bring back lost customers. We have looked at these cause in detail below.

INEFFECTIVE LOYALTY PROGRAMS

INCREASING COMPETITIVE ALTERNATIVES

  • Another major cause of churn in loyalty programs within the telecom industry of the United States is the presence of competitors. The presence of competition has increased in recent times because of the adoption of retention marketing by companies in various industries.
  • In essence, the biggest hurdle for loyalty programs is that all companies have one. Consequently, as soon as customers feel a specific company's program does not meet their needs and expectations, they leave for better alternatives.
  • The availability of many options that customers are free to choose from increases competition in the industry where losing companies have to deal with an increased churn rate.
  • Increasing competitive alternatives is an issue because the loss of customers to competitors ends up severely impacting loyalty programs resulting in a negatively affected customer retention rate for organizations in the United States telecom industry.
  • According to a study by New York University, general customer churn in the American telecom industry occurs every 19 months. Because this figure represents a general churn rate, we concluded that churn rates that are specific to loyalty programs in telecom companies must be higher.

LOYALTY PROGRAM MEMBERS FORGETtING THEY ARE ENROLLED

OFFERING UNAPPEALING REWARDS IN LOYALTY PROGRAMS

ABSENCE OF CUSTOMER WIN BACK STRATEGIES

RESEARCH STRATEGY:

Our research strategies featured an exhaustive search for information on the largest causes of churn that is specifically related to the telecom industry's loyalty programs and retention rates in the United States in three types of distinct resources. In our first strategy, we focused on scholarly resources such as Google Scholar and Research Gate in our search for relevant information. This strategy was not fruitful in unearthing the required information prompting us to move to our second strategy.

In our second strategy, we targeted press release resources such as PR Newswire and GlobeNewswire in the hope that we could find information on causes of churn that had been released by key telecommunications companies in the United States. Again, this strategy proved unfruitful in uncovering relevant information on the causes of churn in the American telecom industry.

In our final strategy, we focused on news and industry blogs such as CNN, Forbes, and Telco Professionals in our search for relevant information. These resources did contain information, but the information was general news and trends in the telecom industry that we were unable to use in answering the research question.

Lastly, we searched for information on the largest causes of churn across all industries' (inclusive of the telecom industry) loyalty programs and retention rates in the United States. This strategy yielded a wealth of usable information that we could potentially use to address the research criteria. However, only some of this information was relevant to the American telecom industry prompting us to filter through the information. Consequently, after filtering through the information, we were able to come up with a list of five of the largest causes of churn in the loyalty programs and retention rates of American industries.
Part
04
of four
Part
04

Factors Associated With How To Increase Customer Retention - Telecom Industry: Loyalty Programs

Four of the largest/most-impactful factors associated with increasing customer retention within the U.S. telecom industry are for telecom companies to (1) maintain a customer-segment focus, (2) provide quality first-contact resolution, (3) provide an omnichannel customer experience, and (4) send customers advanced service-related notifications.

findings

1. maintain a customer-segment focus

  • One of the four largest/most-impactful factors associated with increasing customer retention within the telecom industry is for telecom companies to maintain a customer-segment focus.
  • This means that telecom companies need to focus on offering products/services tailored to the needs of a particular household or individual. For example, some people will only have phone service through the telecom company, while others while have phone and internet services (i.e. consumer segments).
  • Maintaining a customer-segment focus is particularly important "when customers buy more than one service from a [telecom] company."
  • This factor is effective for increasing telecom companies' customer retention because it can "enable the delivery of better customer service" and thereby lower the odds of customer churn.

2. first-contact resolution

  • First-contact resolution is among the four largest/most-impactful factors associated with increasing customer retention within the telecom industry.
  • As its name implies, first-contact resolution means that a customer's issue is resolved by the first company resource that the customer consults, such as a customer support representative. This problem is heightened among telecom companies, as many have poor ratings for first-contact resolution.
  • Two ways that telecom companies can improve their first-contact resolution efforts is by equipping customer support representatives with sufficient information from which to answer a wide-array of customer issues and by investing in customer support agents' training.
  • This factor is effective for increasing telecom companies' customer retention because their scores for customer satisfaction can be bolstered through quality first-contact resolution and because the issues that customers are calling customer service representatives about can inform the telecom companies about customers' dislikes and issues that are driving them to consider churning.

3. provide an omnichannel customer experience

  • Among the four largest/most-impactful factors associated with increasing customer retention within the telecom industry is providing an omnichannel customer experience. Now that many customers are communicating with companies via multiple channels, it's imperative that telecom companies ensure that the customer experience they provide is consistent across those channels.
  • For example, in the absence of an omnichannel customer experience, if a customer begins a live chat about an issue and halfway through decides to call about it instead, oftentimes the representative who answers the phone won't know what the customer has already said about the issue in the live chat channel.
  • A simple, technological solution for providing an omnichannel customer experience is through "unified communications platforms."
  • This factor is effective for increasing telecom companies' customer retention because doing so can "provide seamless transitions for customers" across the many channels they have access to and, in so doing, can provide them with a customer experience that might be difficult for them to find elsewhere.

4. send customers advanced service-related notifications

  • The advanced provision of service-related notifications is among the four largest factors associated with increasing customer retention within the telecom industry.
  • This factor makes the list because customers now expect that they will be able to use their communication devices, whether computers or phones, 24/7 without interruption or delay.
  • As an example, best practice for a customer who's about to reach their data limit is to notify him/her in advance of that event occurring, as a way to prevent an avoidable service interruption.
  • The goal of sending proactive service-related notifications is for telecom companies to contact the customer before the customer contacts the company about a matter.
  • This factor is effective for increasing telecom companies' customer retention because a loss of service is "an experience . . . [that customers] will go to extremes to avoid" which could potentially include a customer switching telecom companies if severe enough.

your research team applied the following strategy:

The source that we consulted for information about the largest/most-impactful factors associated with increasing customer retention within the telecom industry was a very insightful white paper titled "The Telecom Industry Tunes in to the Customer Experience." That white paper lists "Five Customer Loyalty Fixes for Telecom Companies." The reason we included the first four factors (described in the paper as "fixes") only is because the fifth factor was the only one that didn't apply to all customers. Instead, that fifth factor only applied to customers who are of high monetary value to telecom companies based on the value of services they pay for. The four factors listed in our research findings are customer-centric because, as TeleTech astutely notes, "in an intensely competitive [telecom] market, where companies are constantly trying to one-up their competitors, lack of investment in customer-centric measures is seeing clients considering other companies . . . ."

The white paper was published by the U.S. industry source "TeleTech[, which] is a leading global provider of customer experience, engagement and growth solutions" and has been in business since 1982. Further, TeleTech helps companies "acquire, retain, and grow profitable customer relationships." Additionally, the factors we included from that white paper came from "[e]xperts [who] share[d] five actions that telecom companies should take to attract new customers and retain existing ones." For those reasons, TeleTech was a very reliable source to use for identify the largest/most-impactful customer retention factors for telecom companies.
Sources
Sources