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Telecommunications, Media & Technology

Elevating the Telco Customer Experience to a Magical Level

Have the top U.S. telecom operators been focused on the wrong goals? In recent years, these businesses have been hyper-focused on chipping away at each other’s customer base to attract new clients. The number of starting contracts each year is low, so the same companies are pushing and pulling to capture market share in a finite pool of customers.

Wall Street has been driving this behavior as it measures net adds and churn. The reality is that other levers are more important to consider when it comes to the growth and success of the company.

Telco leaders should be less concerned about churn and adding customers and more concerned about not losing the customers they have. Customer engagement creates a growing, two-way relationship between a customer and a brand that delivers mutual value at every touchpoint.

Experience is Everything

The experience that a business creates for customers will determine whether those customers stay with that company. Large telcos have been throwing offers at customers—phone upgrades, free subscriptions to streaming content, unlimited data and more—but these are perks, not experiences. The experience is what the interaction is like when they walk into a retail store to purchase a new phone. Experience is how helpful and informed the customer service representative is when a customer wants to change their plan. Experience is what they see when they open their monthly bill. These experiences are all opportunities to strengthen existing relationships and prevent customers from going to competitors.

“Experience” may sound murky or hard to quantify, but Publicis Sapient has developed a matrix for measuring customer engagement across markets. We’ve looked at more than 30,000 customers and 160+ brands to understand what factors influence customer engagement. Engagement is critical because more highly engaged customers create more value for the brand.

Publicis Sapient asked customers questions about each brand to then create an experience score. These experiences land in four categories: Functional, Valuable, Essential, and Magical.

  1. Functional brands get the job done. These brands have the least engaged customers.
  2. Valuable brands are thought of as “a good choice” by customers.
  3. Essential brands don’t let customers down.
  4. Magical brands are considered an extension of “me” – the customer.


While there are only four categories, there is a significant spread across them when it comes to customer experiences. When correlating the experience matrix with the frequently cited Net Promoter Score® (NPS®), which measures customer experience and predicts business growth, there is 250-point spread.

Moving Toward Magical

Magical experiences are so delightful that customers want to be attached to the brand. They want friends and family to know about their alignment to a brand and they are loyalists willing to promote the brand across channels.

Those businesses that have a magical brand also have good will with their customer base. When customers go to renew a telco contract, it’s easy for them to decide. Magical brands have a 99% chance of renewal. In contrast, functional brands face a 20% chance of customer churn at the point of renewal.

Magical brands upsell products and services 2.5x more than others. Average Revenue per Account (ARPA) is also much higher for magical brands. This illustrates the fact that it is more important for telcos to keep (and upsell to) existing customers rather than to grab from the customer base of others. Right now, the three major U.S. telco providers remain in the functional category. Functional brands are 38 points below an average NPS®. Magical brands are 57 points above the average NPS®, according to Publicis Sapient’s research.

USAA is a strong example of a magical brand. Its members (U.S. military members and their families) are proud to align with the brand for banking, insurance, and other products and services. USAA has an NPS score of 75, when the industry average for financial services and banking is 18.

Leading with Experience

What drives a magical experience? As noted in the graphic, there are several engagement drivers:

  • Personalization – Data enables telcos to personalize customer interactions and learn from them each time so that the next experience is better and drives up customer perception of the brand.
  • Proactivity – Telcos must be clear about how customer data is used.
  • Consistency – Delighting customers with magical experiences is not just a digital problem. It’s omnichannel. Customers engage with a business across every channel, so those interactions must be consistently magical.
  • Value – Did the telco enable the customer to successfully accomplish a task and achieve their goal?
  • Empathy – Every customer interaction should generate data that enables the telco to make the experience better the next time.

In today’s competitive market where customers have a variety of choices, success will require much more than a magic wand. Telcos that create these types of experiences across their products and services can push toward magical.

light, ethical, accessible, dataful

How to Build a Telco Brand that Customers Admire

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To learn more about Publicis Sapient’s customer experience study, or to rate your business’ customer experiences.
Raj Shah
Raj Shah
Telecommunications, Media & Technology Lead, North America

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