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Straight Talk Service Provider

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Is love the way to transform communication service providers (CSPs) into digital service providers (DSPs)? Telstra's new chief marketing officer, Joe Pollard, believes that it's an idea worth exploring. Pollard, who possesses a background in advertising, is one of the big hopes in the Australian incumbent operator's revamped executive team. Her ambitious goal: Make Telstra Australia's most loved brand, and in doing so, change how people view the company's expanding portfolio of digital services.

Turn transaction into engagement

According to Pollard, for too long CSPs have relied on "rational" branding. We'd suggest that many CSPs have excelled in presenting themselves as simple order-takers – pleasant, but largely reactive.

Typical CSP websites exhibit a transactional approach, offering copious menus of services to buy. Live chat might be on offer, but it is never compelling enough to make clients want to return or build a relationship with the CSP.

It's therefore time to inject emotion into how CSPs communicate with their clients, whether they are consumers or small or large enterprises, says Pollard.

Technology should remain a central part of promotional messages, with an emphasis on outcomes. Telstra's brand promise is to be an architect of "better ways" to do things. This implies understanding how clients do things and taking on an advisory role to help them change.

Teach don't sell

CSPs might prefer customers that serve themselves, but as they become DSPs, they must realize that their customers are on a transformation journey too. They crave support and inspiration.

For example, a startling 49% of the 5,000 SMEs that Ovum recently surveyed around the world said a lack of digital skills was currently harming their business. The number one complaint about CSPs? It wasn't value for money, but their lack of advisory services.

To many CSPs, responding to client demand for closer support sounds expensive and complex. Telstra may believe that all you need is love to achieve this level of intimacy, but CSPs can always rely on partnerships – or as the Beatles would say, a little help from some friends.

Straight Talk is a weekly briefing from the desk of the Chief Research Officer. To receive this newsletter by email, please contact us.

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