Here's how Optus is thinking about customers of small business

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Small businesses today are more powerful than ever.

With their natural speed and agility, combined with technology, these businesses are able to compete with corporations in way that weren’t possible in the past.

But it’s not only the SMBs that are transforming — customers are becoming more discerning and their expectations are becoming higher in the process.

We spoke with Optus’ director of strategy, marketing and innovation within its small business division, Cheryl Pearl, to hear how they are thinking about customers in this sector.

Here’s what she had to say.

Customer loyalty is an art — but it is also a science

“Depending on which study you believe, and what industry you’re in, acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one,” she said.

“Businesses now have an appreciation for loyalty that they’ve added an additional stage to the traditional purchase funnel – advocacy as measured by NPS (net promoter score = detractors less promoters).

“Research done by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company (the inventor of the net promoter score) that shows increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.”

How customers interact with businesses has changed and Optus is continually evolving to meet customers’ quickly changing expectations

“In a world where customers are digitally-savvy and pounce on whichever brand offers the best deal, it’s crucial that as a business we continue to innovate to ensure we build and design relevant products and services that satisfy our evolving customer needs,” she says.

“In response, we have ramped up customer engagement through new digital platforms like Yes Business, to provide more interaction and information so we can hold on to customers who may be increasingly distracted or may consider our competitors.

“We are also aware that too much contact may have the opposite effect and desensitise customers from the content and actually pushing them away from the Optus. Finding the right balance is a very individualised process.

“Brand loyalty is not just about messaging and content. In fact, the lines between brand strategy, marketing and CX have blurred and now, as marketeers, we are custodians of the full customer experience from building awareness through to utilisation of the product or service.”

Knowing our customers is the key to gaining their loyalty

“Personalisation can ensure real-time contextual conversations with customers,” she says. “This ensures that the information that is being presented to our customers is relevant and avoids ‘choice overload’ for the customer.

“In a survey conducted by Harvard Business that went out to 7,000 consumers they identified the single biggest driver of stickiness, was “decision simplicity” — the ease with which consumers can gather trustworthy information about a product and confidently and efficiently weigh their purchase options. What most consumers want from marketers is, simply, simplicity.

“Shifting the orientation toward decision simplicity and helping consumers confidently complete the purchase journey is a profound change, one that requires us to craft our communications to be transparent and easy-to-understand.”

Knowing our customers and doing something about it

“We want our customers to feel good about their choice to use Optus SMB, but realise just providing more information isn’t going to elicit emotion,” she says.

“The environment in which we are building customer trust has changed. It is no longer a relationship between just Optus and a customer; there are other influencers that are important also, such as social media and digital platforms.

“Optus aims to provide our customers with effective channels – including virtual channels – to provide their feedback so we have the opportunity to address it. Our Yes Business platform also provides a channel for SMBs to share their concerns and indicate their needs.

“Optus uses these channels to not only listen, but take action and ensure our customers to let them know we’ve heard and taken on their feedback.”

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