Calling All Small Businesses
For example, the first communication a new customer received was its customer information distribution (CID) mailing, primarily an informational and legal document to confirm the order. The actual Welcome to BellSouth package did not reach customers until approximately three months after signing up for service.
Ahead of the program redesign, BellSouth conducted focus groups with customers and non-customers in the fall of 2004. The purpose was to understand the kinds of issues small business owners experienced when they came onboard as new customers in the telecommunications field, as well as to learn about how they wished to be treated as a new customer. Issues customers wished to see addressed included: Having the provider proactively answer questions about their bill; gaining a better understanding of the products and services available to them as customers; and having the provider better understand them as customers by knowing what services and products they already were using or had purchased.
These learnings helped the company reshape its new customer best practices:
1. The first 90 days are critical;
2. The earlier you engage your customer, the better;
3. Messaging early in the relationship should be designed to set expectations and validate;
4. Personalization works;
5. Multiple touch methodologies are preferred;
6. Multiple response channels are essential;
7. Surveying and data gathering are critical factors to gain customer insight;
8. The velocity of customer communication and engagement should increase during "moments of truth";
9. Consultative selling is a key part of any new customer program and can help avoid "moments of truth"; and
10. A product-centric focus is not the key driver in new customer retention.
In turn, these best practices helped reshape the new customer program. At the core of this initiative is a precise contact strategy combined with extremely customer-centric creative.
Fed by both small business customers brand new to BellSouth, as well as those returning to the service provider after an absence, the program has been redesigned to guide the small business customer through the first six months of its relationship with the communications services provider.