Different Strokes: Sharpening CRM Strategies for Specific Mobile Segments
Not all mobile phone and services customers want the same things. Some want smartphones with full Internet and app capabilities; others desire only a basic phone with voice and SMS features. Service providers must identify these customer groups and market to them accordingly, using the channels and methods each segment will be most comfortable with.
Today, when we look at the mobile phone/services market, the trend/focus is toward smartphones, along with mobile Internet/data services. We see mobile phone companies launching new-model smartphones and mobile service providers offering various mobile data services, supported by 3G/4G technologies.
While the mobile phone companies/service providers are competing with each other on the latest technology trends, what do different customer segments really want from them?
Mobile Service Providers - Key Challenges
Before looking into the needs of different mobile customer segments, let's look at the key challenges faced by the mobile service provider in today's market scenario:
- Reducing ARPU (average revenue per user)
- Increasing competition, with too many players, offering aggressive pricing plans
- Need to upgrade their network infrastructure to support the technology advancements (e.g. 3G/4G, IP convergence, unified service access)
- Growing customer demand for variety of services at a low cost and good quality of service
The foremost aspect mobile service providers are looking at is to increase their ARPU. However, they have to be extremely competitive; hence, they are trying their best to keep their service offer price lower, with the aim to increase their revenue through an increase in volume of subscribers and an increase in volume of usage of mobile voice and data services.
Different Mobile Customer Segments - Different Needs, Requirements and PreferencesAt times, we get a feeling that mobile phone companies/service providers are getting carried away by the hype in technology trends while ignoring certain market segments. While we have customers who would want to buy and use smartphones along with mobile Internet/data services (for voice and data services), we cannot ignore the other segment of customers who would still want to use their mobile phones for voice and SMS text messages only, based on their basic needs/income levels/comfort areas.
Mobile service providers should have clear, specific and focused CRM strategies/offerings to address both these specific customer segments in terms of marketing, sales and service support.
Segment A: Customers Who Prefer Smartphones With Internet/Data Services
This is the premium segment of customers (e.g., corporate customers, high-income groups and individuals, urban youth), who would like and can afford to buy new smartphones along with mobile Internet/data services. This segment of customers would use both voice and data services for their day-to-day work and to communicate with their colleagues, family and friends through basic and other value-added services (e.g., voice calls, Internet access, social networks, audio/video conferences, gaming and video on demand).
Even in this case, the mobile service providers should offer smartphones along with the voice and mobile Internet/data services at an affordable/competitive price, which would encourage the customers to subscribe and increase their usage, which will ultimately lead to increase in their ARPU.
From the CRM perspective, this segment of customers can be addressed for marketing, sales and service support through contact centers -- phone calls/enail/Internet, PoS (point of sale) and social networks, as they would have access to these communication/interaction channels and would make best use of it.
Segment B: Customers Who Prefer Basic Mobile Phones With Voice and SMS
Similarly, there are other segments of customers (e.g., small and medium offices, customers in the rural areas, seniors) who still prefer to use basic mobile phones for voice calls and SMS text messages for communication with their family, friends and colleagues/partners in a cost-effective way. These customers would really not be ready (at this point of time) to go in for smartphones and mobile data services, as this is not their basic need. They may not be able to afford them and would possibly find high-tech smartphones and applications a bit difficult to use.
This customer segment needs to be addressed for marketing, sales and service support mainly through PoS or direct interactions, which would give them the required comfort feel.
In the hype of smartphones/mobile data services, mobile service providers should not oversee or ignore this customer segment, which indeed forms a huge volume base and will contribute significantly for the increase in the service provider's revenues.
Give Different Customer Segments What They Really Want and They Will Make You Successful
The key to survival/success for mobile service providers is to understand the specific needs, requirements and preferences of different customer segments and have specific CRM strategies/offerings for them.
Rather than offering customers what they have (e.g. standard packages/schemes), it would be a good idea for mobile service providers to empower different customer segments to choose what they want (e.g., customer-configurable products and services), which will go a long way toward enhancing customer satisfaction in the mobile services space.
Let's give customers what they really want!
Shanmugam Gnanasambandam is a principal consultant with enterprise solutions at Infosys Technologies. He has 18 years of experience in the IT industry and currently works on consulting, solutions and competency building initiatives around CRM and Telecom. Shanmugam is an avid blogger at the Infosys CRM Blog.