Customers using social media to communicate with their mobile phone provider report the highest levels of positive sentiment, according to a global study conducted by customer engagement specialist Affinion.
The research, in partnership with Oxford Brookes University, surveyed more than 18,000 consumers to develop a Customer Engagement Index and revealed that mobile phone providers had the lowest overall customer engagement score (64) compared with the retail industry (68) and banks (67). In the UK, mobile phone providers were in seventh place, scoring below the global average (60).
The findings revealed consumers are using multiple channels to engage with their providers. Phone is the primary channel for consumers (68%), followed by online (52%), in store (35%), email (34%), social (31%) and mobile app (29%). The cumulative effect of using more channels leads to greater feelings of engagement and loyalty: consumers using all six channels reported an engagement score of 80, significantly above the average.
Social media and apps are key channels when it comes to customer engagement for mobile providers. Our research reveals customers with high engagement scores are more likely to stay, so, with an engagement score of 76, social media leads the way as a channel for encouraging loyalty. This is closely followed by apps with a score of 71. The least effective channel for engagement was customers interacting with their providers via their websites, with a score of 65.
Frequency of communication is also a key factor in how a customer feels towards their mobile provider. Consumers which interact with their providers on a weekly basis scored 77 for engagement, compared to a score of 60 for engagement taking place once a month.
Looking at age groups, 25 – 34-year-olds are the most engaged with their mobile providers with a score of 68, with over 65-year olds least engaged with a score of 58.
Karen Wheeler, UK Country manager of Affinion, said: “It’s clear from this research that mobile phone providers are facing challenges when it comes to customer engagement. Loyalty is a key issue that many industries are facing, with telcos faring the worst. Only 46% of customers are planning to stay with their mobile provider, compared to 52% for their preferred retailer and 54% for bank.
“There are positive findings that mobile providers can learn from. Consumers frequency interacting with their providers across a variety of channels are most engaged. With mobile phones an essential part of consumers’ lives, there is a huge opportunity for providers to find ways to build better relationships with their customers which will lead to greater engagement and loyalty.
“Telcos need to find a reason for their customers to keep in touch for the right reasons. Apps on mobile home screens are a great opportunity to prompt consumers to explore the benefits and offers available. Social media also offers huge potential for engagement, and providers should invest in customer service representatives assigned to social platforms to deliver a great service and build positive relationships. The more they can interact with their customers, the more likely they are to encourage loyalty and advocacy – the ultimate goal in customer engagement.”
The findings form part of a larger research project which also asked respondents to answer questions about their attitudes towards their banks and favourite retailer.
The research asked 18,447 consumers from 13 countries questions on their attitudes towards these providers, including about customer experience and relationship quality.
The Customer Engagement Score is a mark out of 100 and was developed as a metric from the research to show how engaged a consumer is based on their responses to a series of questions about their relationship with these three industries.