20 Aug

Reality Check: Mobile operators — Why are your competitors talking to your clients more than you are?

Original Article from RCR Wireless

By Jon Jackson, CEO, Mobile Posse

Dear mobile operator:

Why are you letting your competitors message your subscribers more than you message them yourself? With all the investment you’ve made to capture these customers – advertising, free smartphones, etc. – doesn’t it seem at all worthwhile to build on the promise of that relationship, even after they’ve signed up?

Today, your current subscribers are more likely to see an ad from you offering a free tablet to a new lead than they are to get a direct communication from you – apart from their bill, that is.

And of course, by the same token, they’re just as likely to see an ad from your competitor offering them a tablet or a free Galaxy S to switch.

What’s that? You’ve made them great offers via your self-service app? Oh. You realize they almost never open that, right? And when they do, they don’t just want to see how much their bill is.

Let’s face the facts, mobile operators: not staying in touch with your current customers is just plain old crazy. These folks have chosen you over all the competition. Make the choice to maintain and build that relationship and keep those customers happy. Happy customers stay with you, even after the contract expires. Happy customers even add services sometimes, if you make them the right offer at the right time. And one more truth to remember: happy customers are likely to be more valuable than those you’ve yet to acquire. It’s the old “bird in the hand” thing.

Do you want to invest in that potentially (more) profitable relationship with your current subscriber base? Yes? Good. Here’s how it’s done:

1. Communication is the basis of any good relationship – including customer relationships. Communicate about something other than how much they owe. If you only message your customer base about their bill is, they will love you about as much as they love their mortgage company. Start thinking instead about how you can make their lives better. What kind of content can you provide your customers with that will be relevant and helpful? Perhaps even something as simple as thanking them for their patronage can be helpful and loyalty inducing.

2. Leverage the home screen. That’s right, the home screen, not a native app. Your presence on the mobile home screen is much more visible. After all, the home screen is the first thing customers see and engage with when they turn on their phone. In contrast, mobile apps have an average retention rate of 35 percent at the 90-day mark. (And honestly, is your app accessed more than once monthly to check data usage or pay the bill?) The home screen is where users go to check the time, the weather, and to see if they have messages they’ve missed. It’s the launch pad for nearly every handset use case. Why wouldn’t you want your brand to be in the center of it?

3. Respect their time, space, and privacy. While the home screen is the “beach front real estate” of the mobile handset, it’s also a place that’s personal and safe for the consumer. It’s an area consumers like to customize with their favorite widgets and content items – like a clock, a weather widget, and maybe local or national news tickers – in addition to their most-used apps.

Don’t underestimate how greatly consumers value their private space here. Facebook took that for granted and look how spectacularly their “Home” app has failed as a result. The key here is respect. You can certainly have a presence on the home screen, but don’t take it over entirely. It’s smart to offer subscribers an assortment of quality content to enrich their home screen experience, but keep it consistent with the phones current operating system. Your customer has chosen their handset for a reason, and whether it’s iOS or Android, they’re expecting the experience that handset customarily delivers.

Also important – when messaging on the home screen, do it respectfully. Don’t cover content. Dont’ send messages while subscribers are on a call. You may not get as many messages to your base when using good manners, but your odds of successfully engaging them will be dramatically improved.

4. Know who your customers are, which services they use and which they need. These are your subscribers – you should make it your business to know everything about them. Every good marketer knows success lies in a customer-centric approach, right? By knowing your customers well, you’ll be able to anticipate their needs, and when you know what they need (versus what you want to sell them) your messaging comes across as helpful – not pushy.

As a personal case in point, when my carrier markets products or services me with suggestions, I nearly always jump on board. That’s because their suggestions, while profitable for them, generally save me money or provide me with better services.

Successfully apply these practices to the mobile home screen, and subscribers will view you as a great service provider. Advise them, proactively, that they need to add minutes or a roaming package to avoid hefty fees later on, that they’re due for a new battery, or even that there’s a sale on shiny cases at your store, and you will be on the fast track from “provider” to “partner.” Add value by creating great experiences and leverage the home screen as your home base for building better customer relationships, and you’ll worry less about attrition at the end of every contract.

And if you can make those valuable offers at times that are convenient for and respectful to your users, you won’t have to worry about them eyeing every free phone deal that comes their way. Commit to building the relationship with your subscriber base now – before your competition beats you to the punch.

As Founder and CEO, Jon Jackson provides the vision and leadership behind Mobile Posse’s mission to create a revolutionary and trusted mobile channel through the active idle screen. Jackson brings more than 17 years of strategicd, operational, and technical leadership experience to Mobile Posse from recognized companies ranging from a major Internet powerhouse to a television cartoon studio. Prior to forming Mobile Posse, Jackson spent over eight years in a variety of management and technical roles at AOL, as the company brought interactive advertising into existence. Previously, Jackson was the CTO of Frederator, producers of the Emmy-nominated “The Fairly OddParents” and “Chalkzone.” A recognized expert in interactive advertising and new product development, Jackson has also provided management and technology consulting services to companies like HBO, Viacom, and Primedia. Jackson holds a BA in English Composition from George Mason University.