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Why sometimes it pays for operators to be nice to their customers

By August 22, 2018 No Comments

Being a subscriber of a mobile company can be a very one-sided relationship. Regular price increases, spotty coverage, inability to purchase roaming passes, lack of cost control are some of the regular bug bears of the average mobile customer.

Waterstone Group in the US conducted a brilliant piece of research with 2,500 Americans defining their relationship with subscription services. The main finding was that consumers vastly underestimate their spending on all Digital Services and not just their mobile bill. Even though consumers were most aware of their mobile spend, 84% of them still underestimated the monthly costs involved.

When I travelled recently to a number of our customers in the Middle East, my own mobile phone provider gave me no option to purchase a roaming pass for Turkey or Egypt. My options were €8 per Mb, not GB, €8 per Mb and €1.90 per minute to make and receive calls. Not surprisingly I waited for the hotel Wi-Fi to access my email and data services.

Twice yearly prices increases by some operators should be enough to drive to customers to churn but sometimes the options to switch just aren’t there. All of this leaves customers feeling cold, when was the last time an operator did something nice for their customers?

Luckily, I’ve got 3 examples of where it has been done right:

1) Vodafone Egypt have a massive sponsorship deal with Egyptian soccer hero Mo Salah. In March 2018, they began a campaign that would give every customer 11 minutes of talk time every time he scored until the end of the season. The coverage and buzz for this customer freebie was enormous. Many of the articles focused on the potential cost of this to Vodafone Egypt but in reality they are the ones who are gaining market share based on the perk. According to the latest statistics published by the Egyptian telecoms regulator, Vodafone attracted 227,800 new customers in the last quarter, the only operator that gained new customers, it now has 43.1 million subscribers.

2) Train travel during the Christmas holiday season in any country is fraught with difficulty. Delays due to overcrowding and weather conditions in Sweden are common occurrences. The Telia sub brand Halebop in December 2017 ran a campaign that gave customers 1GB of data if your train home for the holidays was delayed by more than 15 minutes. You texted the train and train number to an SMS short code to get your free data. This is a great way of engaging customers and driving relevance at Christmas time for a very small cost to the operator. It’s no surprise that Halebop have the happiest customers in Sweden.

3) Proximus in Belgium provides unlimited data for a user’s favourite App in Belgium and within the EU. The user can select the App after activating the subscription in MyProximus. You can change your favourite each month choosing from Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter etc. to give customers maximum control. This drives up self-care penetration and overall customer satisfaction for a low opportunity cost to the operator.


To mobile operators planning their next round of propositions, why not create really focused market specific offerings that will increase customer goodwill and generate buzz in the market? Ask yourself, do you have the flexibility to implement these ideas quickly? I have given 3 examples from Europe and the Middle East but the potential is endless.