In a recent conversation with a chief technology officer, he asserted all digital technology changes in his organisation were being led by IT and not by marketing. It made me wonder: How long a marketing function like this could survive?
Marketers have historically put too much focus on acquisition and need to recognise existing customers are both a source of growth and influence through advocacy.
That was the view shared by a panel of CMOs from Commonwealth Bank, Optus and Australia Post, who were brought together to tackle the subject of ‘Meeting Consumer Expectations: Wowing the customer’ at a recent Trans-Tasman Business Circle event in Sydney.
“Historically we did put a focus on acquisition and it’s an easy trap to fall into,” Commonwealth Bank CMO, Vittoria Shortt, told attendees.
“Over the last 18 months, we’ve worked on what it means to be a good customer of CBA, what it looks like and understanding the profile of those people. So we are changing our messaging from actually helping customers to getting the most out of the products they currently hold. We have also put more emphasis going into rewarding customers that are very loyal.
“It’s a big shift in messaging – everything from support services, to making sure you know the features and ensuring you’re using them, right down to nitty gritty communications.”
Shortt pointed to the findings of a recent social media project, which sought to better understand CBA’s 1 million social platform followers and engaged users.
“It turned out they are our most loyal brand advocates and of higher value than the rest of the customer base,” she said. “That has helped changed the way we engage on social and what we message.”
Optus managing director of customer, Vicki Brady, agreed the telco industry in particular had been obsessed with customer acquisition, having taken double-digit customer growth for granted through the rise of mobile connectivity.
“We became addicted to acquisition and customer growth but actually existing customers who are looked after and loyal are a source of not just ongoing growth but that advocacy and influence over future decision-making and purchases,” she said.
Optus has turned its customer team’s thinking about getting new customers for products and services on its head, Brady said, and is increasingly looking at new products and services in the context of benefits for existing customers.
“We go proactively to them first,” Brady said. “It’s been a real shift in dynamic across the business. Churn rates are below 16 per cent from 20 per cent and we have targets to go lower again. But it requires cultural shift.”
Pictured from left: Greg Sutherland, Vittoria Shortt, Vicky Brady
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