It's nothing personal - and that's the trouble for MVNOs

Martyn Warwick
By Martyn Warwick

Nov 7, 2017

via Flickr © ZoiKoraki (CC BY-ND 2.0)

via Flickr © ZoiKoraki (CC BY-ND 2.0)

  • Good subscriber experience is in decline
  • Communications service providers not good at communicating with their customers
  • Consumers want properly targeted, relevant promotions and personalised services
  • When they don't get it, they vote with their wallets and churn away to other service providers

New research from London, UK-headquartered Engage Hub finds that 25 per cent of mobile network subscribers have churned to competitors that offer targeted promotions and personalised services. What's more, 47 per cent believe that MVNOs could greatly improve the customer experience if only they determined properly to do so.

Mobile network operators have always been notoriously tight-lipped about their subscriber loss statistics and over the years many have spun overblown to gild the lily and make out that the churn rates they do reluctantly admit to are much lower than the objective reality. Mobile subscribers have always been fickle, usually for very good reason, and as competition increased they tended more and more to be willing to move from one network operator to another to take advantage of what they perceive to be a better deal.

The new research report indicates just how very fragile a subscriber's relationship with an MVNO can be, and, as such, it reinforces what earlier and different research studies also found. One of the main findings of this latest report is that communications service providers aren't particularly good at communicating properly with their customers. Some 47 per cent of respondents cited good communications as having the biggest impact on overall consumer experience with MVNOs over the course of the past 12 months.

Meanwhile, 38 per cent of consumers believe that a mobile operator's ability to deliver offers that that are relevant to them and that they could actually make use of would have the biggest impact on their overall experience. This is followed very closely (35 per cent) by good and easy accessibility to support and advice. Poor call centre response times, impenetrable IVR systems and overworked and undertrained call agents and support staff remain a major bugbear for subscribers and a majority of customers not only think that things haven't improved but are actually getting even worse. Fifty-nine per cent of respondents believe the MVNO customer service has not improved over the last year while 17 per cent say it has declined further.

The Engage Hub report, "Managing the Customer Experience in the Information Age" also reveals, hardly unsurprisingly, that just over half (51 per cent) of MVNO subscribers are as 'loyal' or 'disloyal' as they were 12 months ago, 16 per cent are less loyal. That said, more than 25 per cent of respondents are more loyal to their service provider than they used to be - a sign perhaps that some MVNOs in some cases are doing some things right, are improving the customer experience and are reaping the benefits of the loyalty dividend.

Consumers know what they want and when the don't get it they go elsewhere

MVNO customers aren't stupid, even if (and far too often) they are treated as such. The Engage Hub research shows that 79 per cent of subscribers put good customer service very high on their list of priorities, while 66 per cent want that service to be friendly. They also want queries and complaints to be resolved quickly (61 per cent). They also want their services providers to be quick and efficient in responding to queries in the first place (61 per cent).

When subscribers churn and become customers of another mobile network, 25 per cent cite properly targeted promotions and 23 per cent cite genuine personalised service as key factors in their decision to switch providers. In the case of MVNOs that consumers judge to have got things right, 38 per cent of them say that their service provider's ability to deliver offers, services, packages and bundles that are directly relevant and that they can make proper use of have the biggest impact on their overall experience. That positive view is bolstered by good accessibility to support advice and conflict resolution services (35 per cent).

However, service providers persist in getting things wrong. Sixty-two per cent of respondents said that many MVNOs talk the talk about the deep importance of the excellence of their customer service, but all too often the reality is little more than lip service to the concept. What's more, 33 per cent say that the s feedback they provide to their service is either infrequently, or indeed never, acted upon. Forty-two per cent say that being seen to take action on feedback would improve their perception and experience of individual MVNOs.

As Mark Sawyer, VP of Strategic Sales at Engage Hub says, "There's a greater variety of competition in the mobile sector than there has ever been, and that means the tolerance for operators who are seen to ignore customers concerns is greatly reduced. Customers want to be addressed on a personal level, and it hey don't get that, when their contract expires, then so may their custom. The research findings show that MNOs need to build deeper, more personal relationships with customers to improve their experience. This can be done by intelligently connecting with them in the right way, at the right time, with a service and offers that are tailored to them, based on the whole customer profile, including behavioural and location data." If only.

The Engage Hub independent research was carried out by Morar Consulting over the course of August and September this year. 2004 (a statistically significant number) of UK subscribers to various mobile network operators.Engage Hub provides a cross-channel customer engagement platform to enable organisations and enterprises to deliver better customer experience through SMS, MMS, web, email, voice, push notifications, Facebook Messenger and more. The aim is to give businesses centralised control over all channels and to simplify the process of engaging customers with intelligently-targeted, interactive communications.

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