Written by 6:06 am Feature, Service Operations

Why telco customers cancel before installation – and how to stop them

We here from the team at ContactEngine, about how to impact of customer cancellations in the telco sector, but there are lessons for all field service sectors…

Pre-install cancellations are the silent killer of broadband, TV, and mobile providers.

Your company spends millions on marketing, ensuring customers see your brand and the benefits available. You invest in a market-leading sales team to help customers in store and a website that is well-optimised and smartly guides them through the choices you offer.

After all that investment, a customer decides to buy. But then at some point, between saying ‘yes’ and installing your hardware in their home, they decide to cancel.

Pre-install cancellations are no small issue. An estimated 10-20% of telco customers cancel their install appointment between the date and the order arriving. The ones that reschedule take up your call centre’s time and cause more complexity for your logistics. The ones who don’t could be lost forever.

By understanding the reasons behind pre-install cancellations, we can begin to reduce churn rates, save money, and increase revenue. One in five British broadband customers said they had reasons to complain about their service – twice the rate of mobile customers. Only half said they were satisfied with the way their problem was handled. Ofcom notes this is an “industry-wide issue”.

Poor service inevitably leads to customers cancelling their service. The most expensive time they can do this is before the installation itself – before they are likely to have even paid you a penny.

Think about your own business. What would a 1% reduction in pre-install cancellations look like for your bottom line? If you were to improve how you communicate with customers during this window, what would this do to your profits?

Better communications

Communicating effectively is the best way to reduce pre-install cancellations. Brands must communicate with their customers between the order and the installation in a timely and engaging manner, using the channels they prefer – not which are prescribed by you.

By using artificial intelligence, telcos can now have millions of automated conversations with their customers at once, ensuring that their journeys stay on track. Sixty-nine per cent of customers prefer talking with companies by message rather than phone. So, why are we forcing people to call when they need to reschedule? Customers should be able to easily text telcos if they can no longer make their installation and receive options that work for them.

In the UK, ContactEngine’s service reduced cancellations by 40% for one market-leading telco and led to a 50% reduction in incoming calls.

We did this because we spoke to customers in the way they expected and provided information before they had to ask.

Simplify the install process

For many customers, the installation process takes too long and is out of touch with the convenience they expect in other sectors. Why can Amazon deliver a parcel the same day, but your customers have to wait two weeks for a technical visit? Why are their options so limited when it comes to choosing a window that works for them?

According to Ofcom, telcos complete 93% of broadband installations on time. This sounds positive until we consider that the average time it took to switch broadband was 15 days.

15 days! That’s 15 days where plans could change, or a customer could forget their install date. That’s 15 days of them browsing their Instagram feeds with competitors’ offers popping up every few minutes. Telcos need to prioritise shrinking this window.

Fortunately, with conversational AI there’s a few things telcos can do. They can send regular messages to their new customer with relevant information or useful perks. They can also remind their customer about their upcoming appointment. If a customer needs to reschedule, they can rearrange rather than simply forgetting and not being at home. This enables your technicians to use their time more effectively.

Fewer missed appointments will shrink the gap between the order and the install. Every day you reduce the time it takes to complete an install is one fewer day customers can cancel their appointment.

Identifying trends

By collecting insight on pre-install cancellations using the data collected through proactive conversations, you can discover trends within your customer base. You can then act on these to make significant improvements to your overall service.

For example, you may get an influx of customers cancelling in one area due to technicians being late. That may mean they hit traffic that day, or it could mean that your technicians in that area need support with their scheduling. You may discover a certain demographic of customer is more likely to cancel than others, which you can then home in on to ensure you are communicating with them in a more relevant way.

Currently, most companies ask for feedback when the sale is completed but then never again. Proactive conversational AI is the best way to get ongoing feedback. Telcos can use it to see how customers’ feelings evolve during their entire journey and keep service levels high throughout.

It’s time to act

Understanding the reasons behind pre-install cancellations and working to reduce them is the most important thing telcos can do to improve their overall profitability.

The period between the order and the install is the point in a customers’ life cycle where there is the biggest risk. By engaging with your staff, they have cost you money and time – but they might not yet have paid a single penny. Telcos must ensure they are using the best technology available to ensure customers fully convert and do not cancel.

Only conversational AI can enable telcos to give their customers the time and attention they expect. We are already helping telcos reduce their pre-install cancellations and increase revenue – could you be the next success story?