Delivering a holistic customer experience that includes savvy engagement is a critical factor to business success – and hardly a groundbreaking idea, yet few concepts will be as critical to success in the coming year.
For those of us in the telecommunications industry, delivering a matchless customer experience is more important than ever before. New forms of competition have pushed our industry to reevaluate how we market to customers, both new and existing. Customers today are armed with an unprecedented amount of choice, have access to vast amounts of information on their own terms, and expect their service providers to engage with them on the channels they choose at the times they prefer. There is a dynamic shift taking place and companies will either adapt and thrive, or remain stagnant and fail. The key is to recognise that the base level of customer engagement to which we've become accustomed is no longer enough to keep your customers happy. While this is certainly the case in the mobile industry, it is equally applicable to most others.
For every new challenge that the digital age has presented for marketers, there has been an even greater rise in opportunities. While Over the Top (OTT) players like Skype or WhatsApp have pushed service providers to reevaluate their strategies, a host of technological advances have also brought in the tools necessary to bring our services to an entirely new level. Whether it be channeling Big Data insights to create personalised approaches or tapping into the benefits of cross device packages, a service provider's ability to infuse these lessons into their offering will be a crucial elements to driving success.
The following are a few of the most significant trends that that will impact marketing this year:
Mastering the Marketing Shift
When we speak of the current state of service as mobile users experience it, we are generally talking about a baseline, lowest common denominator (LCD) expectation of interaction. Proactive engagement will happen only to bring in a new user or keep an existing one onboard, and the rest of the time we will be available only when there is a problem. Even the little proactive interaction we have is generally based on mass texts or overgeneralised segments. The problem with this approach is that it runs counter to the idea of a positive customer experience. One-size-fits-all communication and LCD customer engagemnet is no longer enough, and what is now required is constant contextual engagement and an ultra-personalised approach through the multiple digital channels customers use daily.
Operators need to actively engage with their customers on the platform their customers prefer, 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week using a pro-active approach facilitated in real time. If you have a user that watches Football every weekend and they are going to be travelling, this user is going to appreciate being offered a package that enables him to get the next game on his phone. A positive customer experience is not about the lowest price, it's about giving your customers a tailored, personalised offering that lets them maximise their digital lifestyle.
Big data is a buzzworthy term across a multitude of fields, but the key to maximising the massive amounts of information now available is learning how to utilise it to drive business goals. For businesses, the key to Big Data success is turning this bulk of information into measurable and actionable insights, and using it to treat each customer as an individual. In telecoms, service provides are constantly looking to understand what customers want, when they want it and how they want to receive it. Big Data can provide these answers and as service providers employ more solutions to infuse these insights into their operations, Big Data will increasingly drive even greater returns. The ability to utilise Big Data as a mechanism to better understand and deliver service to customers will be a major factor in determining success.
Open and Direct Lines of Communication
Establishing strong customer engagement and having bi-directional dialogue is key to bolstering the relationship and reducing churn. When lines of communication remain open between customer and operator, customers feel heard and the company is better informed to meet their service needs. Customers traverse numerous channels and interact through various digital touch points on a daily basis, this has provided prime opportunities to engage directly with potential or current customers. Marketing professionals need to have tools that allow them to effectively engage across these channels, both responding to inbound interactions and proactively driving conversations to each individual customer.
New Sales Approaches
The digital lifestyle being enjoyed by the average individual is fundamentally different than the offline-centered experience we were once used to. While many of the strategies from offline have found a home in new digital marketing tactics, a large percentage of how we market is dictated by philosophies that are stuck in a pre-digital era. Regular interactions with engaged customers should no longer be seen as a 'cost' that a company needs to handle, but as a series of new sales opportunities.
More importantly, selling is no longer a dirty word. Customers want to have services that enhance their digital lifestyles and if we can provide them, paying is not seen as a negative. The focus is not about being the cheapest, it is about providing the greatest value.
As marketers face new digital environments and redesign their tactics, customer engagement and creating a complete experience for the customer will need to be a cornerstone of any plan. When customers are put first using data to form a deep understating of customer needs, new sales approaches can be introduced, thus generating new revenues. Where we’re headed is far from where we used to be in terms of proactively addressing customer needs, but everyone is more than ready for the customer experience revolution.
By Ofer Razon, VP Products and Marketing at Pontis.
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