Once in a while I get a call from my service provider. The typical scenario is an unidentified incoming call, which I answer despite being busy with something else. When I realise who it is, my first reaction is usually “what are they trying to sell to me this time”?
What triggers this reaction is that these calls are usually part of a larger campaign launched by the CSP. A campaign by definition is designed to meet CSP specific goals and needs, at a specific point in time. This could be anything from selling data packages to upgrading the device base.
Customers however, couldn’t care less about what their CSP needs. They care that they nearly reached the top of their monthly data package, so they won’t use it over the next week. They care about the price of accessing the Internet when they are on vacation. They care about what their friends are paying for the same service. They care about what they need, right now.
Consumers today expect brands to “get” them. They expect brands to understand their needs, fit in with their lifestyle and talk their language. Most importantly they expect brands to constantly deliver value, whether it is tangible or intangible.
So how can a service provider get around the inherent misalignment between traditional campaigns and customers’ ever rising expectations? How can they meet their customers’ needs and start building loyalty. Well, it all starts with getting to know them, and getting personal.
The fundamentals of loyalty building:
1. Make every customer feel like he is the most important one
Consider the notion of a Segment of One. How do you market to a segment? You understand their needs, motivations, consumption patterns and buying behaviour. Then you define the offering and marketing channels that best suits their needs. Today’s customers expect that you do the same for each and every one of them. Create a unique offering for every single customer, because one size does not fit all.
2. It’s about them, not you
Today’s empowered consumers are constantly connected and have access to information at their fingertips, literally. Purchasing decisions are not aligned with the CSP bill cycle or with an ongoing campaign, they are a result of the here and now. The only way to stay ahead is to get to know your customers. Gather information about customers, analyse it and understand their needs. It is an ongoing effort that requires alignment across the organisation department and consolidation of disparate information and services.
3. Want a long term relationship? Work at it
It takes time to get to know people. It takes time to win trust. It takes continuous work that involves listening carefully to what the other person needs. Continuous engagement with customers ensures that CSPs are in tune with their long term needs. Understand where your customer is today (occasional data user) so that you can define where they will be in the future (mobile video addict) and plan the steps to get them there. Constantly engage with customers by offering exactly what they want and when they want it to optimize satisfaction, usage and spend at any moment.
CSP marketers are facing challenges both from a fiercely competitive environment and from and increasingly sophisticated and demanding consumer base. In its piece on “5 Surprising Marketing trends for 2013”, Forbes predicts that “Campaign-based marketing will take a break”. I share the view that success lies in getting up close and personal with customers.