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EP #48: Building a customer-focused personalization strategy like Asia’s Telecom leader, Globe Telecom

About this Podcast

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced brands across industries to go digital. Traditional brands have found it difficult to adapt to this sudden and unexpected change. Even their customers have been forced to switch to digital platforms for their services. Thus, it has become important for brands to serve their customers with personalized experiences across digital channels. Globe Telecom, a leading telecommunications company in Asia, strives to enrich the lives of its millions of subscribers by delivering the best and personalized products and services. To understand how traditional, offline brands are adapting to change by making the transition to digital platforms, we caught up with Michelle Fernandez-Castillo, Head of Digital Experience at Globe Telecom. Michelle highlights the following:

  • Challenges faced by the telecom industry and how they are pulling customers from offline to digital channels
  • How to deliver a personalized CX seamlessly to your customers
  • Actionable growth tips: How to align and track marketing efforts to measure business growth
  • How to deliver personalization to customers at different stages of the customer journey
  • A roadmap for building a dynamic digital strategy by leveraging personalization

Tune in to learn how to create a robust digital strategy by providing omnichannel personalized customer experiences at scale!

Episode Transcripts

Miguel: Hello and good afternoon and welcome to a brand new episode of podcast series with Netcore.  Today, I’m joined by a very special guest. She is the current head of the digital experience team and the Globe Telecom industry, Miss Michelle Fernandez-Castillo. Michelle, welcome to the Netcore podcast. 

Michelle: Hi. Good afternoon.

Miguel: Yeah, good afternoon. So Michelle first question I want to bring right off the bat is, how are you guys? How is the Globe Telecom team doing nowadays?

Michelle: Well, especially because there is a pandemic, Globe I think Is straddling between doing really well in terms of the business, but also really struggling to make sure that our customers are kept happy. It’s not easy especially because there are a lot of challenges that the industry is facing and of course also, all of our consumers are facing a very big challenge with Covid-19, but happy to say that the company is still thriving despite all this.

Miguel: Well, that’s good to hear. That’s very good to hear. You know Globe is very much fortunate that you know, it isn’t a thriving experience at the moment because like when you do look at the employment rate and the current like market in general, there are lots of businesses that are going down or you know are going under if that’s the correct term, but as you rightly mentioned, it is a very challenging experience right now. And you know, it’s very much fortunate that you know, we find ourselves in a situation wherein we are still able to work and we are still able to you know experience I guess a job and that every month in that sense. So Michelle you mentioned challenges kind of want to dig in a little deeper on that what particular challenges have, you know your team’s experience throughout this whole pandemic so far.

Michelle: Well personally, I handle digital experience and it is a channel that is not as familiar to most of our customers. I think if you take a look at 2019, you would find that many customers were still much more comfortable going to stores or speaking to agents face to face, or even calling our hotline, but now many of those previous conveniences are no longer either no longer available or no longer preferred by customers because they don’t want to be outside of their homes. So the challenge for digital experience was really to ramp up our delivery to make sure that the services needed by our customers which were previously offline would now be delivered online and the second part of that challenge is to make sure that the customers not only have these services at hand, but would also know how to use them because we do live in a country where yes there is the prevalence of smartphones and there there is the internet, but the majority of it has always been through mobile data instead of Home Improvement.

Miguel: Agreed, now you mentioned something about customer service here in the Philippines and I think one of the biggest sorts of let’s call a trend, that’s been going on around right now with marketing and generalists concept called personalized marketing, you know, it’s all about providing your customers a very specific type of service in the right way and providing them with the right content that will help engage them with your business. Now as the head of the digital experience team Michelle, what are your ideas or opinions about personalized marketing. 

Michelle: Well, definitely from the name itself something very customized and tailor-made for each person, a course, in this case, our customers and were personally always striving for this but it’s not as simple as getting a name and a mobile number and then just start talking to them, right? Some people will think, Oh, no, you already have their details then you can do whatever you want, but this is not the case, you know, we respect their customer’s privacy and we really take all the experts to ensure that personal information is properly protected. So to do personalized marketing, it means that we have to do targeting and marketing correctly within persuading the law really making sure that we don’t expose any personal information even to internal customers as we work with external parties as well. So it can be very expensive when you want them to be precise like the better quality and the better the Precision the higher the price when it comes to personalized marketing. 

Miguel: For sure. Now you’ve mentioned expenses. All right now, I think that’s a very interesting thing to sort of coming into because when marketers whether senior marketers are even, you know new marketers talk about personalization or any Innovation for that matter price becomes a talking point. Like is it something that they can afford? Is it something that will give them ROI right away and you know, that’s a very fair question? But for you guys, what is it when it comes to Globe rather for your team? What are the right tools or the right sort of budgeting that you have to consider when you’re doing personalized marketing?

Michelle: What to say that there is one set of the right tools might be a little bit inaccurate so it seems depends on what you’re looking for. What is it that you seek to get out of this type of marketing? Is it just plain awareness or are you looking further through and in the conversion funnel? So if it’s simple awareness where you are personalization is just up to a certain level of oh, I just want to Target for example all females residing in this location, but that’s very high level. But if you start drilling down and becoming much more specific, let’s say okay, I want to Target all females living in this location age this in this learning from this income bracket and living with X number of people in the home, then it becomes a lot more difficult right because all of this data, it doesn’t just land on your lap. And even if you have that data there needs to be proper encryption so that you actually are not exposed to the specific people. You are not allowed to basically see their exact details like their names or things like that because then that would be a breach of privacy. So the more granular you go the more I guess the cost Rises. So you have to be really particular with what your measures are what your metrics are and what you want to do with this kind of detailed information. Otherwise, you might be spending on necessarily, maybe you just needed a broad Target and then you spent so much the get a very specific kind of individual.

Miguel: For sure, for sure and you know there that is a very interesting sort of start like when whenever you start a business, I mean one of the more important things that you build when you’re when you begin operations is who am I selling to? It’s like creating that Persona I think is the correct word. Correct me if I’m wrong Michelle. Yeah, it’s coming over that Persona or you know that look of your customer that are they a millennial who is looking for a home that’s currently living in Manila. And you know, it’s very interested in investing or something like that. Sorry. I think I just gave the most generic Persona and there the entire world but you mentioned something again, very interesting with regards to metrics. Now, I think when it comes to any new project or any new endeavor One thing that people start to forget this day. Alright, so we’re doing personalization now or you know, we’ve dabbled in artificial intelligence or with machine learning or any of these you sort of trends that have been going on in the past decade. One thing that they forget is metrics, which you seem to be very what you call this you seem to be very stable on that right now. So can I pick your brain into a sort of like the process on how you chose your metrics and how you sort of started like choosing what you know, what should we track? What is what should be tracked? What’s priority number one? And what’s something that we can sort of look at, you know, maybe five years down the line?

Michelle: Sure, it all depends really on which part of the customer Journey you’re working on. So if you’re looking at the Discover and by part of the journey, then obviously the metric that would be most important to you is conversion, meaning how many people of those that I have targeted have actually ended up buying my product or my service and this is extremely important because otherwise, you might have spent a tremendous lot of money, but it didn’t translate the sales. So it would have been a waste of your budget. So that is the most basic way I guess of looking at it for discover and by but it changes when you’re you know, the latter stage of the customer journey. So for example, when you’re already talking to existing customers or in our case subscribers, you’d like to target, for example, those that have been With a company or using your service for five years and above so for customers like that Is there a certain special service that you would like to extend? Would you like to give them a better plan, faster speeds bigger data? So then that means that you would have to look at their habits how much data is being consumed up to a certain point, how often do they connect to the internet? How many devices do they use, to be able to really study what’s most relevant to them? So here your metrics would no longer just be acquisition but of course, you have retention. You would also be looking at increasing usage, upgrades of plans, purchase of other devices. So there are there It’s really dependent on which part of the customer journey you’re looking at.  You can even take a look at for example new customers who have just come into your brand and don’t yet know what services you have available. So even opening an onboarding video is something that may be measured and relevant because then it sets the tone for their entire relationship with you. So the metrics can vary greatly, depending on where you’re at.

Miguel: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I think you just gave a very robust sort of list of what it’s like to but what it is that you need to track especially considering like the customer Journey like if a customer is in this part of the journey, this is what’s important at the track and so on and so forth. Now I’m pretty interested like how did you guys know these particular metrics but be the one to yield the best results for you guys like was it that you guys find another sort of thing framework from different studies Where you guys started just moving trial and error. What was your sort of ultimate moment wherein you thought like, oh my God? Okay. So we finally got it right. These are the metrics that we want.

Michelle: Well, it really isn’t rocket science. It’s your customer. They’re the best basis for what to measure so we do a lot of studies with our customers. We talked to them and we really ask them what matters to them so that we can be able to tell what next to give them, what matters to them what they think, Oh, you don’t need to give me this. I don’t care about this and a lot of I would say, I mean, I’m not going to judge other companies but a lot of other companies might decide we will do something because we have a new product when it should be the other way around. We have a new product because our customer has asked for it. There is a pain point and we will solve it versus we have an innovation and we just want our customers to use it so really going back to the customer and understanding them and getting data and information from them would be in my view the best way to approach it and from there you can. I deduce that this is the best possible way to measure their satisfaction or to declare that okay, I’ve succeeded versus my goal.

Miguel: That’s amazing. Okay, I think you’ve hit the head on the nail or you’ve hit on something very important Michelle weather guards to your customer. Like it’s always about looking at where the customer is. What feedback for anything you and believe it or not a bunch of marketers even today is saying that okay personalization, you know, that’s not for us. You know, that’s just the latest trend to come out, you know, like cronuts or whatever. So what would you say to is the risk essentially that these marketers run if they don’t practice personalization today?

Michelle: In a word relevance, so if a customer isn’t listening to or their needs aren’t considered, anytime you build a product, anytime you create an ad. They’re just going to choose another brand or they’re just going to skip your ad there would be very little interest I believe if whatever was created was not taking their needs into consideration beforehand. So, yes, you can choose to just keep going the way things have always gone. You could choose traditional methods. I don’t think that traditional methods are going to go away a hundred percent and looking really will still have a percent of the market that is more comfortable watching breaks sample, a very broadly targeted PVC. I’m sure there are people who still do that. Many percent of people of the Philippines still watch tv but you wouldn’t want to be left behind and you don’t want to be the dinosaur that has no idea what the customer actually wants.

Miguel: Agreed, I think you’ve mentioned something there again, which is very interesting that you know, traditional marketing, it’s not 100% going to disappear but I believe you know, there really is going to be a sort of Paradigm Shift wherein it’s all about personalization or at least it’s mostly going to be about personalization and when it comes to traditional Media or traditional consumption of media such as  PVCs, Billboards Etc. You know, I think that will take a back burner don’t you think or will it, you know the sort of has a kind of 50/50 kind of relationship?

Michelle: I think that the percentages while they exist and while they are relevant to take a look at because they will determine your ad spend and how you cut your budget. At the end of the day, You have to remember that customers are multifaceted. One person’s preferences may not be the same as another right. So that’s where the person is personalization comes in but to completely disregard a certain method of doing things sort of advertising for example and saying nope. I’m going to spend all of my money just on this one thing. Basically. I’m going to put all my eggs in one basket. That could be very dangerous because you left yourself no room to wiggle out of the situation in case the industry shifts again because everything is unpredictable. I don’t think that 10 years ago they were imagining that people would be just glued to their phones and Looking at all of these ads and so who knows what’s going to happen.

Miguel: Absolutely, 10 years ago, like people were just sort of looking at Facebook and saying stuff like oh that’s just where 12-year-olds are teens, you know, hang out quote unquote now. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry and that underestimation of ten years ago, you know marketers are probably kicking themselves in The Shins, this is considering how many ads spend this going into Facebook nowadays or even Instagram or any of the other social media. So I definitely agree with you that Innovation paired with, you know, the advantages of previous methods or traditional methods can give us a better Clarity moving forward with marketing or the with the discipline of marketing anyway. Now I think one big question that a lot of our listeners sort of ask is if a company did want to start doing personalization. What is the first thing that they have to consider? What is the first step that they have to consider? And should they maybe even consider that all?

Michelle: Well definitely yes, consider it all. I think this entire conversation has actually just really spoken on that and brought that if you need to know your customers better and there’s no better place to start than the date that you actually already have. If you sold anything to any customer, that means that you have even just a little bit of their information. Maybe they left you a name or a mobile number and of course, this is something that is already in your system. So you have that start from there and the second thing would be to get experts to help you look at that information again, of course with the proper and legal methods to make sure you don’t get any side. But yes you if you have some customer information there are ways to work together with you know, working with expert agencies or other organizations such as yourself. You could look into that information and actually use it to More info from the customer so it might be as simple as sending an email to the email address that they have left you, if they’ve agreed to receive updates from you and then you could ask them for more information like their mobile, their interests, What kind of news they would write, they would like to receive moving forward. And from there you actually grow that Base. So this is for your existing customers and for new customers that you seek to acquire, you could actually update all of your acquisition methods. So if when you acquire your customers, you never really asked for any information perhaps it’s time to start considering adding those fields into your forms, digital or otherwise, and of course, you should give your customers a little something in exchange. There has to be something in it for them. I mean you wouldn’t just give your mobile number or your email address for nothing. So whether it is an actual gift or a kind of service. So you need their number to be able to help them moving forward so that they can be served faster when they need troubleshooting tips or anything of the sort. Then that’s something that you can do.

Miguel: I see so I think I ‘d love to start to leave this podcast, but that beautiful high note of you know, looking at your customers’ data, looking where you are with your customers, seeing the relationship that you currently have them and seeing how to improve it. I think I think if we were to summarize it at the end of the day, it’s just getting to know the relationship more and building on that. Would you agree?

Michelle: Yes. It’s the very first step.

Miguel: Perfect. So to all our listeners right now, who are listening to this podcast, when it comes to personalization one of the first steps that Michelle has taught us this with your customers finding out where you guys are on how well, you know, your customers and building on that to be able to sort of giving them the best content and the best service essentially at the end of the day. Michelle any final thoughts from your end?

Michelle: I think I’ve actually spoken too much during the session.

Miguel: Oh, no worries at all anything that you share I’m sure will be gold.

Michelle: All right. So basically as you summarized it all begins with your customer, if you love them, they love you back.

Miguel: And yes, at the end of the day if you don’t know your customer then I think that’s a very, you know, big red flag for you to sit down and say I need to know my customer. So Michelle, thank you. Once again for joining us in this podcast and to all our listeners out there. I hope you all are doing well. Stay safe and stay healthy.

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