Supporting your business customers – from entrepreneur to scale up
Separating business from consumer or retail customers is a common strategy, but it may miss a big opportunity: many of your retail customers are really businesses. Helping them to grow, scale up and to develop is a key opportunity that MNOs should confront. Such entrepreneurial companies need more than basic mobile accounts. Why not target them and provide a pathway to help them grow while offering increasingly relevant services?
Business is too broad a definition
Most operators make a very simple distinction between business and retail customers. If you look at most MNO’s customer-facing websites, you’ll see that much of the real estate is populated by consumer offers, packages and bundles and, somewhere in the top-level menu items, there’ll be a tab or option to select “business” or “corporate”. Choosing this will take you to the area reserved for professional customers.
But, while retail customers can typically choose from a wide range of options, there are generally many fewer such options for business customers. Once you’ve chosen the bundle you need, the rest is about add-ons.
There’s nothing wrong with this approach as such, but since business customers generally generate higher ARPU than consumers, it’s curious that there aren’t more offers to tempt them as they set out on their business journey. As such, it’s also worth wondering why all business customers are typically treated the same. The underlying packages may differ, but the add-ons and service options are generally the same.
What do entrepreneurs want and need?
But not all businesses are the same. As an operator, you need to be relevant to your customers, so why not present offers that are tuned to different needs and different levels of organisational development? At one level, that’s about segmentation – offers that are suited to businesses of different kinds and sizes – but at a more fundamental level, what about the journey of your customers and their evolution?
After all, a two-person entrepreneurial partnership is still a business and not simply two consumers, so why not think about how businesses evolve and adapt? For many entrepreneurial businesses, the principals simply have two different mobile phone accounts. Why not connect them? Offer a service that enables both their numbers to be linked, so that calls to one can be routed to the other, if there is no answer initially? That’s easy to do, yet can be compelling.
How can you help businesses evolve?
Just as businesses change how they function and operate, so their needs change. Even a simple step towards integrating different services can make a huge difference and result in significant productivity gains. What if another person joins the venture? Connect all three numbers and enable some sort of control, so the business can set its operating hours and each individual can change their availability.
Add a couple of other people to the team and perhaps they might want to think about their identity and how companies reach the entity as well as individuals? After all, they will be sharing their business cards and contact details, so why not give them a main number to which the majority of calls will be routed, with options behind that to enable the call to be delivered. They can still use their individual direct numbers, but now they present a more unified image to the world.
With still more people, perhaps IVR routing makes sense, or the creation of sub-units or teams? Any organisation that thrives in business goes through changes. They don’t suddenly change from a group of consumers to a professional organisation when they reach a magic number (10, in the case of most operators). They change as soon as they use their numbers for business purposes. The time to catch this business and to provide partnership to support future growth is when they found the business or when they start to use their retail numbers for business purposes.
Position to support the entrepreneurial journey
At this point, you have a tremendous opportunity to support their entrepreneurial journey and to help them at every step. As they grow and scale up, you can deliver more to them, creating a stickiness and enduring relationship, because you ensure relevance.
So, rather than waiting until a business meets your definition, why not think about their definition and motivation and target even the smallest business with something that can help them grow. It all recalls a conversation we had with an operator some years ago.
In this case, the MNO had several million retail customers, but it suspected that a significant proportion of this subscriber base was actually made up of entrepreneurs and micro-businesses using its network. But, it had no way of knowing this. As a result, it neglected a significant opportunity to provide more valuable services to help build a stronger business customer base.
Most retail MNOs are probably the same. You may be surprised at quite how many of your retail base can also be considered business customers. As they seek to grow, why not target them and help them? It’s easy to establish relevance – get in touch to find out how to achieve this.