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Telecommunication (telco) as an industry isn’t known for its strong loyalty, as shown by high customer churn and rich acquisition offers. Most consumers tend to view telco businesses as a means to an end, and often only interact with the brands when they pay bills or have an issue that needs resolution.
The UK and US have similar programs, where spend unlocks partnership rewards or brand benefits, such as additional data or bill credit. Some have started moving into experiential rewards such as concerts and sporting events.
Australia has very few telco programs, but those that do base their programs on rewarding customers simply for being customers, and automatically send rewards to customers’ accounts. Australian telcos are also starting to incorporate more experiential awards, similar to US programs. One leading program in Australia was an early adopter of geo-location, and since their consumers largely use data for entertainment apps and streaming, they prioritized forming partnerships with brands like Netflix. Currently, this brand also offers a highly experiential benefits-only program with personalized offers based on customer spend behavior and surprise-and-delight rewards to excite customers.
Telcos in APAC rely on points-based programs, with partner structures and discounts on services. They vary in partner brands for rewards redemption and feature tiered benefits for the number of services subscribed to. In order to increase stickiness, Starhub Singapore partnered with OCBC bank to form a coalition program for APAC customers.
Telco customers in Dubai are rewarded for staying with the brand, typically related to bill payment and redeemed as data or text. These brands partner with 3rd party vendors to increase rewards and offer some tiering benefits. Some outliers have partnered with top OTAs, while Viva Kuwait has partnered with large sports clubs (Manchester United, Royal Golf Club).
Aimia’s recent emotional loyalty study reviews these loyalty trends to uncover what engages consumers (rational) and what consumers expect (emotional) from loyalty programs. Looking at the consumer needs and wants helps to uncover opportunities for program improvement and areas where brands can truly differentiate.
According to the study, consumers in telco Ease & Participation was the strongest rational driver to the ideal telco loyalty program for the UK (35%), Australia (35%), Dubai (32%) and APAC (35%). The US was the one outlier region, driven by Rewards (36%). Emotionally, consumers had the highest expectations for Customer Data & Service in the UK (+28%) and Australia (+40%), while the US sought Ease & Participation (+39%), Dubai Rewards (+46%) and APAC Preferred Treatment (+50%).
From an emotional standpoint, building telco loyalty among global consumers is clear – customers want programs to be easy to use, easy to understand, to have flexibility in earning outside of purchases, and perhaps feature some gaming elements to increase engagement with the brand.
Most importantly, there is significant opportunity for telco businesses to intelligently use the massive amounts of data collected from their customers. Rather than selling off data, consolidating all interactions, transactions, preferences and more, into a rich customer profile, could permit telcos to monetize partnerships, with other key brands, by offering personalized products and services customers are highly likely to drive engagement. Personalized offers increase member visits by 14% and spend by 12%.2
With increased engagement, telcos can streamline their marketing, and rather than focusing on costly acquisition, they will be able to stem churn through custom messaging and offers, thereby preserving margins and opening dollars for continued innovation to stay ahead of the competition.
Customer centricity is key to differentiation among a crowded loyalty landscape. Aimia uses its proprietary SmartJourney® methodology, taking a holistic and personalized customer-centric approach, where each brand interaction is designed to create a meaningful moment and ultimately drive emotional advocacy and long-term customer growth.
The data in this article is derived from Aimia’s emotional loyalty market research report, Global Emotional Loyalty. Download the full report here.
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