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Artificial Intelligence

Can AI Predict When a Telecom Customer Will Churn? Salesforce’s Communications Cloud GM Says Yes.

Today, Salesforce announced Churn Predictions for Tableau CRM, a new feature that helps communications service providers (CSPs) retain subscribers and keep them engaged with current service offerings.

Recent data shows that subscribers are likely to terminate their contracts and switch to a different service provider if their needs aren’t being met. Subscribers are being driven away by factors like high costs, convoluted billing, and bad customer service experiences. According to a Salesforce Consumer Sentiment Survey, 82% of consumers would consider changing their home internet services to a CSP that offers improved customer service, faster speeds, or lower prices. 

With Churn Predictions for Tableau CRM, CSPs can generate a single view of their customers, including revenue and service history, past customer service interactions, and a measure of account health that indicates which customers are more likely to churn. And, with the addition of predictive analytics, providers can recommend the right products and services to their subscribers, such as additional discounts on bills or adding phone credits to pre-paid phones.

Dan Ford, SVP and GM for Communications Cloud, offers a deep dive into the product’s functionality as well as his thoughts on how this new feature will help CSPs beat churn.

Q: Why did Salesforce introduce this new capability?

If you ask anyone in the communications world what their top concern is, more often than not the answer will be customer churn.

The cost of acquiring a customer is high, so retaining them once you’ve brought them in is becoming more and more essential. According to a TM Forum report analyzing data from 36 mobile CSPs across 24 countries, churn rates ranged from 14% to 75% for all customer types, indicating how important acquisition and retention really is for CSPs.

Churn Predictions for Tableau CRM was built specifically for the communications industry to address the pervasive issue of subscriber churn. The feature allows customer-facing associates and agents to better anticipate customer needs and recommend next steps that will increase customer satisfaction. 

Q: How does the new churn predictions functionality work? 

Using artificial intelligence (AI), Churn Predictions takes signals and insights from customer interactions and data, such as the type of customer service, case history, and resolution information, and combines it with external data, such as billing, network, and data usage. It then uses all that data to develop a predictive picture of subscribers, such as if they are happy with the service or if there is any indication they may leave the provider.

This feature leverages the full power of Customer 360 to get a complete picture of the customer across social, email, and other digital channels with Salesforce Marketing Cloud. For example, if a particular subscriber posted about a negative experience with a CSP on social media, all of this information can be incorporated into a churn prediction algorithm.

Q: How can predictive analytics “change the game” for communications service providers?

Predictive analytics can change the game for CSPs in two ways. First, giving the agent an indication of what the customer is calling about before they engage. Second, enabling the agent to proactively figure out what the customer needs before they call or try to end their service.

Q: How does Churn Predictions have the power to impact the customer experience?

As customers, we expect that our service providers are going to give us personalized experiences with every interaction and proactively suggest services tailored to our needs. Any tool that allows for more personalization and better experiences for a customer is likely to reduce the chance of them churning. 

For example, a customer’s recent usage and billing history might indicate they are on an outdated plan that no longer meets their needs. The customer might be working more from home, uploading large data files and incurring data overage charges. Churn Predictions can recommend upgrading the customer to a plan with higher data limits. Taking proactive action like this can lead to higher customer satisfaction and reduce the likelihood of a customer switching to another service provider.

Q: How is Churn Predictions different from other offerings in the market?

Service providers using Salesforce enjoy all of the benefits of having their analytics, insights, and customer data across sales, service, marketing and commerce on a single platform. For example, a sales manager at a service provider can create a view of their customers that contains all recent interactions such as changes in subscriber plans, order fulfillment statuses, and upcoming contract renewals. The sales manager can then segment these views by region and demographic. 

Churn Predictions is also actionable. We don’t just display churn propensity scores, which indicate how likely a subscriber is to stop interacting with a service. We provide visibility into why a customer has a certain churn score and recommend next steps all directly within Tableau CRM. 

For example, a CSP may notice that a prepaid customer hasn’t used their phone in more than two months — an indication that the customer may be likely to churn. Now a contact center agent can get in touch with the customer to offer a special deal like adding more credits to their mobile phone, such as $20 worth of phone credits for the price of $10. After the customer expresses interest in the deal, the contact center agent can then guide the customer through the process of accepting the offer.

With visibility into all of the subscriber’s account details and activity, a service agent can see a score that predicts their likelihood to churn in the next three months. 

Q: What kind of business impact can Churn Predictions have for communications service providers?

The churn predictions feature has the potential to dramatically improve customer satisfaction scores and reduce the cost of serving customers. In a single interaction, the provider is able to identify and present customers with the best offers that are uniquely suited to their needs. It’s a game-changer.

Q: A Salesforce survey found that 64% of millennials would switch over to a tech company (e.g., Amazon, Facebook) should they offer a communications service. How can Churn Predictions help traditional CSPs?

Big tech companies do a great job of leveraging all the available data at their disposal to create more personalized experiences for their customers. Now, Churn Predictions allows traditional CSPs to do the same.

This functionality helps reveal why subscribers churn, allowing CSPs to proactively strategize how to retain subscribers who are considering making a change. These insights can help service providers understand what segments and subscribers are more likely to leave, create more targeted, personalized campaigns, and retain customers by identifying and selling plans that are best suited to their needs. 

Ultimately, the Churn Predictions empowers service providers to be more transparent and easier to work with, enabling them to take advantage of rich customer data while helping their agents deliver a better customer experience.

More Information

  • To learn more about Tableau CRM for the communications industry, click here.
  • For a more in-depth look at how technology can reduce customer churn and why a service provider may be at risk of losing customers, read this blog.
  • Discover five ways CSPs can attract and retain new generations of customers, based on new Salesforce research in this blog.
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