‘Delve into the why’: Virgin Media O2 on tackling customer retention

Marketers are too quick to jump on tactical and short-term solutions rather than carry out a proper diagnosis of why customers are leaving their brands, says Virgin Media O2 director of customer experience Marie Feliho.

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Marketers looking to prevent customers from abandoning their brands need to “delve into the why” before attempting to solve the problem, says Virgin Media O2 director of customer experience Marie Feliho.

Brands often attempt to solve problems before properly diagnosing them, Feliho said, speaking at the DMA Customer Engagement Conference today (12 September).  Often brands will look to implement “very tactical and reactive” methods to retain customers, she noted.

“The problem with tactical solutions is that they tend to be they more like a band aid, they stop the bleeding, but they don’t heal the wounds,” she said.

Instead, brands need to take time and “think about how to address the root causes” in order to drive long-term customer re-engagement.

Price is almost always a factor in customer retention, particularly in the cost of living crisis; however, it is rarely the sole factor as to whether a customer remains loyal to a brand.

Feliho gave the example something Virgin Media finds from long-term, high-value customers from other telecoms providers who make the switch to the company. These customers might have been upset because their previous provider had raised prices but only made the switch after they were unable to reach anyone at the call centre to help them find a better deal.

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Moments like this come about when brands take a “one size fits all” approach to customer retention, Feliho said. In this case she would guess there was “no real strategy” in place across the business, meaning the call centre were not empowered to retain this high-value customer.

It’s essential to empower all the business to drive retention, she advised.

“It’s all about joining the dots right across the customers touchpoints, and for each of the functions to know what’s the best next action or the next best thing to do at that point in time for the customers,” she said.

Orientating your brand to meet consumer needs beyond price is extremely important, she said. Data is essential for driving this consumer centricity. It can helps brands understand how to engage customers in their particular sector.

For Virgin Media O2, as a utilities provider, creativity is essential. There’s only a certain amount of times customers want to engage with their broadband provider, Feliho acknowledges.

“For us it’s going to be around like bringing the kind of services, and content that’s going to make customers bit more sticky and make them want to come to our app or our website, not because they’re having a problem with it but because this is something of value there,” she said.