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Fan experience: top three strategies to secure customer loyalty

Head of Marketing, Strategy and Insights for Europe and Latin America

Fans watching a sports game in a stadium

Head of Marketing, Strategy and Insights for Europe and Latin America

Head of Marketing, Strategy and Insights for Europe and Latin America

Picture yourself as one of the lucky ticket holders to this year's hottest music and sporting event. Maybe you've planned a vacation just to attend. Perhaps you are part of a group arriving from multiple destinations.

Ensuring you stay connected during the entire journey is essential. You meet up in a high-traffic location like an airport, train station, or the stadium itself. You arrive and wait for the event to begin, and with your mobile raised high, you’re ready to capture the moment and share it with the world.

It's a crucial opportunity for Telcos to seize this year. But precisely how big an opportunity is it?

Keeping customers is more profitable than recruiting them

Over the past few years, I've been captivated by the growth of large-scale events and fan culture. And during that time, we’ve also observed a 10% year on year customer satisfaction improvement of 5G in most markets attributed to the introduction of 5G technology, as highlighted in our ConsumerLab: 5G Value report1. But now we're at a crossroads where the connectivity experience at key places and venues - think airports, music stadiums, and sports arenas - has become a pivotal opportunity for loyalty and churn.

The latest findings from our ConsumerLab report underscore this reality: users encountering connectivity issues at key travel gateways, like airports and entertainment, and event venues are three times more likely to churn within the next 6 months.

And because customer acquisition costs are widely recognised to be 5x that of retention costs, keeping them happy so they’ll stay and spend more in the future is one of the most important metrics for Telcos to maintain profitability. Even more so in saturated markets where acquisition of new subscribers is limited and expensive, retention growth becomes the barometer of health for the subscriber base.

Targeting customers at key locations during big live events can be the connecting piece, where everything comes together demonstrating the difference full 5G connectivity makes to the fan experience and the growth of the business.

Here are three key strategies Telco’s should consider to secure their customer’s loyalty:

Performance, performance, performance

For today's mobile users, seamless connectivity is non-negotiable. Our research shows that four out of the five top reasons for users switching their service provider are performance related. Additionally, 45% of users who recently switched cited that they wanted better 5G experience1.

It underscores the importance for Telco’s to equip their networks to handle the high-density traffic during events and the critical moments that drive customer satisfaction, like trying to meet up with friends at the event venue, or sharing their experience on social media on the way home.

Reasons for switching provider:
45% of users who recently switched cited that they wanted better 5G experience

This proactive approach to network performance does not just enhance the immediate experience, but also fosters customer loyalty by leaving a lasting impression of quality and reliability.

Ooredoo in Qatar is a great example of thinking about the entire customer journey to an event: 1.4m visitors arrived in Qatar last summer for the tournament and they made sure fans had unfaltering connectivity and super-fast reliable connection from the moment they landed right through to after the event itself2.

Get the app experience right

When we look at customers’ satisfaction of 5G, we see that it is improving across all our markets globally. From 2022 to 2023, we’ve seen the number of users stating they are highly satisfied with their overall 5G network performance increase by 10 percent year-on-year1.

The crucial piece for Telco’s to consider is how the performance of their 5G network aligns with app usage and behaviour. For instance, our research shows one of the highest rated drivers of total satisfaction is the video streaming experience. At the same time, it’s performance impact on mobile networks is growing with increased consumption HD video and complex video formats, such as AR and VR, driven by video streaming apps. This trend is evidenced in our latest Mobility Report, which shows the global average data consumption for video streaming skyrocketing from 3.4 GB to 16.3 GB per month in the last six years3.

5G network satisfaction is driven by enhanced application experience

5G network satisfaction is driven by enhanced application experience

In addition to securing downlink capacity, Telcos must ensure their networks are optimized for upload-intensive behaviour. Fans are keen on sharing their experiences with the world in real-time, with soaring popularity of apps like TikTok shifting the dynamics from downloads to uploads.

For instance, during a high-profile international music tour in Melbourne, Australia, Communication Service Provider (CSP) Telstra recorded over 35 terabytes of data consumed over three concerts, around 200% more that prior major concerts. Telstra’s data shows that mobile traffic reached its peak just before the artist took the stage, driven primarily by fans documenting and sharing their experience live on social media platforms4.

It underlines the need for Telcos to optimize their networks with a focus on providing a seamless app experience. By doing so, they can demonstrate understanding of their customer’s needs, thereby securing loyalty.

Key locations as ‘use-places’

High-value locations like transport hubs and entertainment venues have a significant impact on customer loyalty. From our findings, 15-20% of users report that they always experience connectivity issues at these locations. In turn, these locations have the biggest impact on customers’ likelihood to churn, which increases up to three times in the six months following the experience3.

A useful framing of these locations is the idea of a ‘use-place’ – a self-contained ecosystem where users interact with specific applications or services along various touchpoints (for a deep dive on this concept, check out this blog).

Using stadiums as an example, a customer’s journey might see them use a ticketing app at front grate, digital phone payments at the concession stand, and then a taxi-hailing app as they are leaving the venue. Robust connectivity at these touchpoints is not only expected by attendees, but can be the deciding factor in a customer's perception of a Telco brand.

Users who have network issues at event venues are three times more likely to churn

Users who have network issues at event venues are three times more likely to churn

Moreover, having a cutting-edge infrastructure at these locations enable enterprises to offer services that can elevate the event experience and delight customers. These can range from smart crowd management to enhance fans’ comfort and safety, to engaging digital services like real-time athlete performance monitoring and 5G video broadcasting.

A prime example of this comes from the 2022 Singapore Grand Prix (GP), where Singtel became the world’s first service provider use 5G network slicing, powered by 5G standalone, in a premium app-based video streaming experience5. Fans were able to pay for high-quality live video stream, enhancing their engagement with the event, all without impacting other users’ connectivity. It's an innovative example of a Telco-driven offering to increase the value proposition for both the customer and service provider through premium revenues.

Laying the groundwork for increasing customer lifetime value

Successful events are increasingly measured by the depth of emotional engagement and strength of community they build. These moments may only happen once in a lifetime, but the magic and memory of them lives beyond the moment. Those memories will come back to consumers when they need to make decisions on the next 36-month mobile contract.

And those Telcos who tap into this opportunity to strengthen their relationships during these, oftentimes, once-in-a-lifetime moments are rewarded with higher retention rates and happier customers. Which ultimately leads to an appetite for Telcos customers to spend more leading to increased customer lifetime value.

Make it memorable

Create unforgettable fan experiences and capture the value of 5G.

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