How the telecoms sector can connect with customers
In an increasingly diverse and competitive marketplace, telecoms executives need to cut through the noise and distinguish themselves from other providers, writes Scott Logie, the customer engagement director of REaD Group. Through consumer data, key players in the industry can offer a service fit for modern consumers, engendering loyalty with tailored offers and timely communications.
But this will not be possible if companies overlook the basics. Open and honest service, delivering on agreements and efficiently responding to queries may not sound exciting, but establishing a reputation as a fair service provider is an essential foundation for building loyalty among consumers, more important than flashy offers.
Earlier this month, Vodafone suffered an embarrassing and very public scolding from the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) which banned an advert for misleadingly implying that customers could leave their phone contract at any point. In reality, this is only possible during the first 30 days of a contract, a fact that the ASA felt was not made clear in the company’s TV advert.
These incidents can risk seriously damaging the public’s perception of a brand. Transparency is incredibly important to consumers and if they feel a telecoms provider is trying to deceive them, it is difficult to rebuild trust and prevent them from looking elsewhere. Creating bespoke offers is important but stretching the truth about what these offers entail is likely to backfire.
Once telecoms companies have got these functional elements right, they can then turn to managing data intelligently to enhance their relationship with customers.
Changes in regulation
Building trust around the way data is stored should be a priority, both to appeal to consumers and comply with data regulation such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Under this law, which was introduced in May, businesses must process personal data securely, making sure that appropriate measures are taken to keep the data safe and secure and make sure that it is valid and up to date. Should a data breach take place, fines for non-compliance could reach €20 million or four per cent of annual turnover (whichever is higher). Clearly a fine of this scale could be devastating for any business. Telecoms providers also need to consider the reputational damage associated with a breach, which could enable competitors to tempt customers to switch.
This should not deter telecoms providers from using customer data intelligently, but simply reinforce the need to use it responsibly. There’s no doubt that access to data on existing customers gives brands a competitive edge. For example, information on how an individual uses their mobile data, whether they would benefit from additional call time and the channels they respond best to enables network providers to create bespoke offers, targeting consumers with relevant deals using communication channels they are receptive to. Consumers value this level of service and are less likely to switch if they feel they are being treated fairly and receiving personalised offers. However, brands need to earn the right to get access to this data and the permission of the individual to deliver these offers – the right to be personal.
Think creatively about communications
Along with using data to communicate with existing customers, it is important to ensure that any communication with potential new customers is timely, relevant and permissioned. In such a crowded market, telecoms executives should think outside the box when reaching out to new prospects, looking beyond email to other forms of communication such as direct mail. Rather than getting lost in the daily flurry of email traffic, direct mail offers a refreshing alternative for consumers and is particularly popular among the younger audience. Its inobtrusive, tactile nature is particularly effective for driving action from the younger generation of consumers, with research by InfoTrends highlighting that 63% of millennials who responded to piece of direct mail made a purchase within a three-month period.
Significantly, direct mail can be used under Legitimate Interest under GDPR, as confirmed by the ICO. Often, marketers are preoccupied by obtaining consent, but the regulator has reassured marketers that all legal bases for processing data have equal weighting and all options should be considered.
Using data to connect with customers is essential in the current climate, providing that telecoms providers are open about the way information is processed and stored. New regulation will support this, encouraging greater transparency between brands and consumers, ultimately leading to more profitable relationships and improved customer service.
Telecoms providers have access to a wealth of relevant information, and those which fail to utilise these insights will lose out to their competitors.