Vodafone says no thanks to customer rewards programs

Telco is halfway through a three-year turnaround, says CMO Kim Clarke

Vodafone CMO Kim Clarke addresses the ADMA Forum.
Vodafone CMO Kim Clarke addresses the ADMA Forum.

The chief marketer of Vodafone Australia has ruled out offering a customer loyalty program in the fashion of the Telstra Thanks program.

The Thanks program provides cheap movie tickets and other rewards to Telstra customers. Speaking at the ADMA Forum today in Sydney, Vodafone CMO, Kim Clarke, said it’s unlikely Vodafone would roll out a similar program for its own customers.

“Not in the foreseeable future,” she said. “It’s not something I’m particularly keen on.”

While the global Vodafone group has considered loyalty schemes in the past, Clarke is “not a huge fan of loyalty point systems as a general point. I don’t think it actually ingratiates what I call real customer trust and real customer engagement.”

Clarke also criticised a recent marketing effort by Optus that she said appears to be targeted at the younger generation of millennials.

“They’re chasing millennials as a particular category and hipsters,” she said. “It’s very, very niche … I’m surprised that they’ve done it, I have to be honest, because I think it’s too narrow for them as a brand, but they’re executing very well in that very niche sort of space.”

Rebuilding trust in the Vodafone brand has been Clarke’s key focus in a three-year turnaround effort at the telco, she said. The CMO estimated Vodafone is halfway through the initiative.

“In terms of the turnaround itself, we’re right in the middle of it,” she said. Vodafone has lost more than one million customers to competitors Telstra and Optus since 2010. The number-three telco is still bleeding – in the six-month period ending 30 June, it lost more than 137,000 customers.

Clarke said she is tackling the problem with a three-step process of addressing the root cause, leveraging Vodafone’s strengths, and spearheading a change program across the business.

The CMO previously outlined how she is repairing the brand in an interview with CMO Australia.

The normal lifecycle of mobile contracts has prevented a sooner turnaround, said Clarke. Customers with contracts typically stay with a telco for 18 months before changing providers, she said. However, Vodafone has had some early success winning prepaid customers who don’t want to be locked into contracts, she claimed.

An early part of Vodafone’s turnaround strategy was admitting past problems and promising to do better.

“It’s not a very human thing to do to push it away and keep walking,” Clarke said.

When Vodafone was suffering frequent network problems from 2010 to 2012, “one of the things that we probably didn’t do as well as what we could have is actually acknowledge a mistake that actually happened,” she said.

Action must follow admitting mistakes, she said. “While acknowledgment is nice, and you do expect it, if you don’t actually address what you’re acknowledging and do something about it, that’s even worse.”

Adam Bender covers digital marketing and emerging technology for CMO and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

Signup to CMO’s email newsletter to receive your weekly dose of targeted content for the modern marketing chief.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

How can a brand remain human in a digital world?

Some commentators estimate that by 2020, 85 per cent of buyer-seller interactions will happen online through social media and video*. That’s only two years away, and pertinent for any marketer.

James Kyd

Global head of brand strategy and marketing, Xero

​Relevance and substance are the keys to marketing’s future

Marketing’s evolution and increased value-add to organisations is making headway in one essential direction: Driving brands to achieve maximum relevance in the heart and minds of customers.

Jean-Luc Ambrosi

Author, marketer

Why doing your job well is the key to innovation

The words ‘power company’ and ‘innovation’ probably don’t seem like a natural combination. In fact, when I first went for a marketing role with an electricity company, I semi-dreaded the work I thought I’d be doing.

Catherine Anderson

Head of marketing, Powershop Australia

Krios.io/shop/ ICO relaunch March 14 - April 14 2018. Building a bigger community and more holders will surely move Krios to top exchan...

Mark Dalton

Blockchain pitched as answer to influencer marketing management

Read more

Lok knocks it out the park and predicts the future...“People are starting to understand they own their own data, and this will come to a ...


Data regulation key to marketing innovation

Read more

It needs to come from the top. It's not just about buy-in from the leadership team, leadership should be part of the development process ...

Stephen Houraghan

Why getting intimate is key to creating a great customer experience and optimising customer value

Read more

When was this article posted?


Report Reveals the Channels That Really Influence Consumer Purchase Decisions

Read more

sorry, I did not see that my first attempt already posted.


5 ways Australian Unity is driving innovation

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in