In competitive markets, product and price innovation are often yesterday’s news. In fact, in the telco market, the sort of ‘innovative’ offers long designed to attract new customers have increasingly been anything but innovative.
Consider the industry standard bandwidth and/or minutes increase, says Adhish Kulkarni of Evolving Systems.
Given both the ease of switching between carriers (facilitated by changing regulatory standards around the globe) and the simplicity of one telco matching another’s offer, the reality is they don’t work.
The question for telcos is ‘what does’? How can relationships with customers be reinvented in a way that does deliver the required results: Increased ROI, lower churn and beyond. We believe that the next frontier for strategic differentiation is customer engagement. This is based on the precept that today’s consumers expect service providers to do more than just offer competitively priced, reliable and attractive products; they also expect their providers to be responsive, flexible and to know just what they need.
Young people in particular assume they can have a personalised and seamless dialogue with a company across multiple channels at a time that suits them. Meeting these expectations, whereby customer engagement and service innovation become key strategic differentiators in a fast-commoditising market, is both a challenge and an opportunity for telcos.
As one carrier told us, this means that the entire customer relationship needs to be rewired with the goal of creating something that, rather than just being remunerative, is emotionally engaging. As the telco in question itself puts it, a move from transactions to emotions.
One key shift with this mindset is that brand positioning is a major component of enhancing emotional experience. If marketing programs can utilise the brand effectively, there is evidence that they will create more valuable and enduring customer relationships as well as creating programs that are much harder for competitors to copy.
These relationships also have to extend across entire subscriber bases, ending the perception that telcos chase new subscribers but pay little attention to existing customers. The goal should be for the telco to turn its existing subscribers into brand ambassadors.
What’s needed to take this step? How do you interact and engage with a subscriber base in a new way to deliver an innovative personalised experience? Among the requirements are:
- Having the ability to communicate with the right customer at the right time and reward them in the right way. This is easy to say but not easy to do.
- Customer engagement technology that meshes seamlessly with CRM.
- The ability to define the best moment of contact with the customer…..and then execute.
- Ideally, to drive digitisation, the ability to run engagement programs through mobile applications. This should drive a significant number of downloads, a vital component of a company’s digital transformation process.
What the telco is really after here is something so personalised that it creates an emotional experience rather than the traditional approach that might be described as ‘linear and rational’. Instead of ‘reward’, think ‘surprise and delight’.
The author of this blog is Adhish Kulkarni heads the customer value management and loyalty business unit organisation for Evolving Systems, an end-to-end digital engagement software and services provider.
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