Here is a simple insight based on a true conversation.
I have two phones: A Vodafone blackberry and a Three N73
I have been a long time Vodafone customer – and a very high value Vodafone customer as that – considering my phone bill(mainly due to my travels)
Recently, I met a senior Vodafone exec at an event where I was speaking. We both started speaking and he was happy to know that I was a Vodafone customer.
Oddly enough, in spite of being a long term Vodafone customer and a high revenue customer from Vodafone’s point of view, that was the longest anyone from Vodafone had spoken to me.
(with the exception of my good friend Daniel Appelquist – a top notch guy!)
The problem – as I explained to him – is as follows:
a) Vodafone is an excellent Operator – which pleased him no end
b) But .. because of that, I rarely have the need to call Vodafone – because it works
c) In fact, works very well globally (including roaming data – practically anywhere in the world with the exception of South Korea(and that’s due to CDMA – I doubt if any non Korean phone works in Korea))
d) I don’t use Vodafone Live(who does?) No smily from Voda exec . Maybe I am the wrong demographic, and I keep reminding them of things like fixed rate price plans – but I am no fan of Vodafone Live
e) Apparantly, he assured me that a ‘light will flash’ when I call(High value customers call). Reassuring to know – but not very useful from a new services point of view – and thats assuming I call.
So, my question to him was: If Vodafone introduces a new service, how will I know?
There is an irritating touch point – ‘Welcome to the Vodafone network’ when I am roaming – that adds a bit of value – but not a lot really.
So, the question to Operators must be – how can they increase their interaction with Customers – and do it tactfully? This leads to many other questions – leading to Trust etc etc ..
However, one of the most hated Operators until last year, Three .. has done a fantastic job of re inventing itself and has won many fans – including me(The future is bright – the future is Three)
If they (and by that – I mean any Operator) can work this out i.e. the ability to work with the best customers, interact with bloggers, be human, be open to feedback etc etc .. they have a good chance of succeeding in the next wave of Mobile data apps.
PS: Ofcourse, Daniel Appelquist does a fantastic job of being accessible from a Vodafone standpoint – and it’s great that Vodafone has someone like Dan who tirelessly works across the industry. But, the ordinary customer still would not be able to liase with an Operator with ease.