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Can a cellphone carrier be stupider?

May 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Even as someone with a jaundice-eyed look at the use of data and analytics in business, I can’t help but think that the introductory message on Vodafone’s help line just couldn’t be worse.

Calling today to solve a small problem with the new account, I am accosted by the “perky British ‘It Girl'” voice. She’s enthusing that the new Samsung smartphone is about to be released. But Vodafone already knows who I am — they can detect that from the cellphone I am calling from. They also know my account information. Certainly they know that I just signed an 18 month contract for an iPhone. Why should I care about a Samsung phone?

The answer is that I shouldn’t — and they know it. In their dunderhead minds, this was probably just an advertising deal in which they agreed to bombard callers to the service line with the advert in return for some dosh. But it doesn’t seem very cost effective. Why not use the moment to call to my attention something that I might actually be interested in buying. Instead, Vodafone is “training” me to ignore their marketing messages, since they are not relevant.

So Vodafone gets some short term lucre, but annoys its customers and creates psychological incentives to disregard its adverts, creating longer term harm.

What is most pathetic about this is that it need not happen. Who is to say that there ought be one advert for all callers? Wouldn’t segmentation make more sense, and have six or thirty or two hundred different messages?

It underscores that the entities most teeming with data can be the stupidest at using it.

Grrr… I’m still on hold!

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