The 'new Telecom' carries with it a fair bit of baggage, some of it well-deserved and based on its legacy, some of it based on misperceptions and a general lack of understanding about the oft-confusing telco realm. And in an effort to address some of those issues, Telecom has taken the fairly brave step of opening itself up to the masses and launching a new website called www.whytelecom.co.nz that's part PR campaign, part customer service innovation and part public service announcement. And, in quintessential Telecom fashion, it's gone heavy on the animals.
When we chatted with chief marketing officer Jason Paris a few weeks back he was fairly open about the fact that Telecom had plenty of work to do to become an iconic Kiwi brand and to do it it was going back to its heartland comms territory of New Zealandness (and children and animals). And, as social media manager Richard Irvine says, the site, which was created by Droga5 and Toybox and soft-launched late last week, aims to give some straight answers to a few of the most common questions Kiwis ask Telecom—and give them a few reasons to choose it over the competition.
And, as an added bonus to assist those struggling with the complexity of, for example, smartphones, a lot of the information applies to telecommunications in general, he says.
Telecom, like many other utilities and service providers, already uses social media as a customer service tool on Facebook and Twitter, but Irvine says this is an attempt to collate some of that information and get it in front of customers. And, in an effort to make that information more compelling and interesting, it decided to turn the "genuine customers with genuine questions" into animals.
In an era where social media has meant companies have more demands placed on them by customers than ever before, and when company's dirty laundry (or, in the case of Samsung in Canada, clean laundry) is outed in a flash, transparency, accountability and a human touch are crucial, so it's good to see the company fronting up to answer questions about things likes its fairness, its coverage and its iPhone friendliness—and admitting there are areas it can improve on.
Customers can ask their own questions, so there are bound to be a few more curly ones coming its way. But, as he says, "that's what we do on social media and it's very important we take the good with the bad.
"We want to have two-way conversations with our customers."
Irvine says it's been received well inside the building, but it hasn't been pushed out too widely to the consumers yet.
For Droga5, it's a nice little slice of a much-sought after piece of business and chief executive Mike O'Sullivan says a big part of the campaign was finding the stories that were already buried within the Telecom website and showcasing them. And when people find out, for example, that mobile coverage is problematic when there are oceans and mountains around, they often say "oh, I didn't realise that".