Operators needs mobile SNS partners

Keith Willetts, TM Forum
11 Dec 2009

Why would growing affinity groups loyal to service providers be good? Because customer loyalty goes straight to the bottom line.

As TM Forum reported in its latest Insights Research Report on customer experience management, small shifts in customer loyalty can have a big impact on profitability. Loyal customers don't need to be tempted with expensive offers to win them back, and their willingness to recommend your service makes them your best salespeople. What better than to have ever-expanding groups of friends telling one another that if they switch to use Facebook on your network, they will get a great tariff and extra goodies thrown in?

To make customer loyalty programs work properly, leaders in the key markets for mobile social networking services -- both mobile providers and social networking service operators -- would need to become more than just arms-length partners. They'd really need to team up. The service provider would get sticky revenues and improved profitability, and the social networking partner would instantly broaden and diversify its user base.

There's an old theory that everyone on the planet is connected, with only six degrees of separation between them; that is, you are only six friends away from every one of the 6.75 billion (and rising) people in the world. That's some social network to play for.

While using social networking services is fun and seems to be the accepted method of communicating with large groups of people at one time, we're starting to see a new wave of online interaction that could play very well to the customer-loyalty smartphone strategy that rewards social networkers who communicate on the same network.

The new Google Wave product significantly changes how we communicate. Imagine having your email, instant messaging, blogs, collaboration tools, games, photo albums and much more all literally on the same page. Think of it as a mashup of Outlook, Skype, Flickr, wikis and anything else that allows you to communicate and share with others.

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