The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is undoubtedly home to big and fiercely competitive telecom markets, especially among the mobile and broadband sectors. With heavy investments pumping into the industry to cope with the ongoing accelerated digital transformation and the transition towards 5G networks, the region’s key market players are striving to grow further. It’s one of the fastest growing industries nowadays.

Statista predicts that the annual global telecom services spending is set to gradually rise to USD 1.595 billion in 2024. This will inevitably result in a tightening competitive environment to the point that the quality of services and products won’t suffice alone as a competitive edge, even though customers will be spending more.

Accordingly, innovative and effective customer loyalty programs that utilize cutting-edge digital technologies are set to play a more prominent role in the sector’s success, like it has throughout most of its past.

What Makes Customer Loyalty Programs Especially Important to Telecom?

What the data tells us is that, as the telecom industry grows and more competitors enter the market, it suffers from high churn rates. These churn rates vary from market to market. They depend on variable like the price sensitivity of customers, the market’s own maturity, the percentage of prepaid subscribers in the market, etc. Nevertheless, it has always been a tricky challenge for telecom operators.

Customers jump around and utilize dual SIM cards, for example, to get the best of all world. To calm these churn rates down, stay ahead of competition, and foster customer loyalty, loyalty programs are the industry’s go-to solution.

And How Can Customer Loyalty Programs Help?

Increase Customer Retention and Revenues

Accenture surveyed customers from 33 countries back in 2016 and found that 77% of customers are no longer loyal to any particular brand. Additionally, research by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company illustrates that increasing customer retention by 5% can increase revenues by 25% – 95%.

This makes nurturing existing customers far more significant than the costly act of acquiring new ones. Customer loyalty programs, when done right, boost customer loyalty and retention. And in the fiercely competitive environment of the telecom industry, this is of crucial importance.

A Direct and Convenient Communication Channel With Customers

Of all the industries out there, telecom would be one where customers expect companies to maintain a smooth, direct channel of communication with them. Solely relying on your traditional customer care/service centre or social media channels in today’s increasingly competitive digital and mobile world.

You could, instead, add a customer loyalty programs into your mix that incentivise both loyalty and thoroughly honest communication with your brand.

Offering Your Customers Value They Need in Areas Unrelated To Telecom

Numerous telecom companies across the world have partnered with major brands to offer their customers value that is unrelated to their telecom needs. The promotions of such loyalty-focused partnerships and the programs themselves were proven to be quite popular and successful in countless cases.

Recommendations for Telecom Companies To Boost Customer Loyalty in General That Might Be Easy To Overlook

1) Make sure that all contact points with customers are engaging to some extent.

2) Adopt a more personalized approach to loyalty rewards and make sure they fulfil the different needs of your different customers.

3)  Continually innovate the means, incentives, and rewards you present to your customers through your loyalty programs.

4) Come up with creative ways to get your customers’ feedback on your services, products, and loyalty programs.

5) Provide more than just transactional value to your loyal customers. Transactional loyalty is a decent acquisition channel, but the value you add to your customers over time is what will keep them retained.

6) Partner up with big brands outside the industry with the aim of providing your customers with much-needed value that covers more than just their telecom needs.

Examples of Outstanding Customer Loyalty Programs in Telecom

Priority by O2

Image via O2

The UK’s second-largest telecom operator (with over 26 million subscribers as of November 2019), O2, built this customer program to reward customers in an exciting way that ditches the conventional model of collecting points and redeeming them for rewards.

Their customers can register in Priority for free to enter draws for prizes and win event tickets, vouchers to a decent array of merchants, and other offers. Their ‘Pay As You Go’ customers, however, are given special treatment. Through Priority, they are eligible to receive 5-10% cashback from their top-ups every three months. And this reward could be exchanged for movie tickets, airtime credit, or vouchers for smartphones.

AT&T Thanks by AT&T

Image via AT&T

American multinational telecom company, AT&T created Thanks to thank their customers for their loyalty. It rewards customers with immediate access to special perks that include discounts at many restaurants, entertainment venues, and AT&T services.

Once you download the app, you get to enjoy such perks without the need to earn, collect, or reward any points. It maintains different tiers of customers depending on the services and products they consume, however, and each tier has access to different rewards.

Sherkety by Vodafone

Image via Vodafone

Sherkety, which is Arabic for My Company is Vodafone Egypt’s way of showing appreciation for a specific segment of their customers. Via this loyalty program, the British multinational can reward customers of its Vodafone Business accounts with benefits that suit their need.

Right after a customer’s total bill reaches EGP 1,500, they start collecting points when buying Vodafone’s products or services. These points can then be redeemed for discounts and rewards from high-end brands like Magrabi, RadioShack, Computer Shop, Mobile Shop, and more.