It appears that the telecoms sector is not held in as high esteem by its customers as it could be. Mark Evans, the chief executive of O2, admitted this in a speech last month, in which he commented that telecoms could do with a bit more affection from consumers. However, Nina Bibby, the chief marketing officer of O2, believes the company has risen to this challenge, and partially resolved it, by focusing on the brand’s purpose.
Telefónica is the parent company of O2, and financial results for the most recent quarter were buoyant, with revenues in the UK rising by 2.6 per cent year on year. While these figures are extremely encouraging, Mr Evans said the telecoms industry faced an ongoing battle in earning the trust of its customers, especially as many of them rely on their mobile phones for all kinds of daily communication needs, and as a critical element of mobile and office based telephony solutions.
Mr Evans said that while customers relied on mobile and office based telephony solutions and viewed them as a fundamental part of their lives, consumers did not necessarily trust providers, or have great confidence in the services that they were receiving.
Mr Evans said that O2 had taken measures to give customers more transparency. Tariffs such as O2 Refresh, which records bills for airtime and costs of hardware separately, have proven popular. This tariff also allows subscribers to change their devices at any time, with no penalty.
Ms Bibby, when answering questions about the efficacy of purpose driven marketing and whether it could build trust, said that purpose was an important element of a company’s ethos, and research indicated that organisations with a strong purpose at their centre performed better than those without. She also agreed that mobile and office based telephony solutions were a core part of most people’s personal and work lives, and there was a need to increase confidence in providers based on that fact. She added that O2 was always trying to improve user experiences and drive loyalty to, and confidence in, the brand.
Regarding consumer loyalty, Ms Bibby said although the company invests heavily in digital infrastructure, she felt O2 retained many customers through initiatives like its Priority service, which offers customers early access to tickets for events, discounts and even free coffee. These perks, she said, saved consumers money, and increased the likelihood of them recommending the brand by up to 28 per cent.
She added that measures of customer satisfaction indicated that O2 scored extremely well compared with a broad range of competitors. Ms Bibby believed that this was at least partly due to the way in which O2 became part of its customers’ daily lives, rewarding them and letting them know that their business mattered.
Mr Evans said while O2 had met with some success in changing the way it was perceived, tackling this issue across the entire industry would bring benefits to everyone. He added that as technology played a pivotal role in most people’s existence, there was a responsibility on behalf of all players in the sector to build trust and help consumers feel confident in the companies they turned to for their communication needs.