Deutsche Telekom on Tuesday passed on some sage advice for operators hoping to engender greater loyalty from their customers.

"A good [customer] relationship is like a good marriage," said Nora Merenyi, senior CRM expert at Deutsche Telekom, at the Network Management Show in London. It requires each party to listen, and to give and take, she said.

For Deutsche Telekom, this means analysing call detail records and maintaining regular contact with customers to ascertain whether or not they are happy with their service.

For instance, by looking at CDRs, telcos can build a picture of how many times a customer suffers a dropped call, said Merenyi's colleague, Beata Kovacs, Deutsche Telekom's head of international CRM and loyalty.

"If they make repeated short calls to the same number, it suggests the calls are dropping," she said.

While most doomed marriages fail within the first year, the relationship between an operator and a customer will fail a lot more quickly unless problems are resolved early on.

"In the first three months you have to pay close attention," said Kovacs.

"If the customer selects the wrong price plan for them…and they get a bill shock in the first three months, then they'll think that whatever we do for the next 18 months [of their contract] will be wrong and they won't ever be satisfied. So we need to treat these problems early," she said.

"After three months you can start to make predictions about customer behaviour," added Merenyi, which can help a telco be more proactive about upselling, promoting special offers, and nipping any issues in the bud.

"The cost of retention will be lower" if you stay in touch with customers, she said.