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Bt Mergers and Acquisitions Branding

BT and EE merger – How to take the best and leave the rest to create a telecoms superbrand

By Jason Hemingway, CMO

January 29, 2016 | 5 min read

BT’s acquisition of EE won’t present a risk to the telecoms industry – according to the Competition and Markets Authority – but the £12.5bn merger of the UK’s largest fixed telecoms business and largest mobile telecoms business will dramatically alter the communications landscape.

BT, EE

Completed today, the merger comes at a time when customer expectations of the telecoms industry are high, and satisfaction is low. Complaints to the ombudsman about communication providers increased 35 per cent over the last three years, and Thunderhead-commissioned research shows nearly a fifth (17 per cent) of telecoms customers feel a single negative experience will impact their perception of the provider, with almost half (47 per cent) unlikely to use that company again.

Regulatory changes make it easier for customers to switch between providers – creating a buyers’ market – and BT will face stiff competition in the mobile sector if the merger between Three and O2 is given the green light.

So how can BT incorporate the best of both companies to build an engaged and loyal customer base?

Utilise EE’s experience of onboarding customers

BT isn’t looking to create a new mobile brand but to incorporate EE into BT Mobile – a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) that already operates over the existing EE network.

For some EE customers this will be the next step in a 10-year brand journey spanning One2One, T-Mobile, Orange, and EE, so BT must handle the integration sensitively, presenting and delivering a strong brand promise.

It must listen to the needs of EE customers to make the transition as seamless as possible and should learn from the merger of T-Mobile and Orange, which successfully reduced customer churn.

Integrate EE’s high street presence into the BT brand

Listening to customers and responding to their individual needs will be key to a successful merger, but is an area where BT has struggled in the past. During the launch of BT Sport, around one in 2,000 BT TV subscribers resorted to Ofcom to complain, often following unsatisfactory experiences with BT’s own complaints procedure.

To fully engage customers of both brands, BT must create a customer-centric business that places customer relationships at its core. Conversations should be joined up across all channels and touch points – mobile, web, social, in-person, and call centre – so that the customer gets a contextually relevant, informed and appropriate response from BT every time.

Thunderhead-commissioned research shows most people (92 per cent) feel negatively towards businesses that ask for the same information multiple times, and one in five say it would be enough to make them consider switching to a competitor.

The acquisition of EE includes 580 high-street stores, providing a valuable opportunity for BT to build in-person relationships with their customers. However, to do that successfully they must be able to understand and join up all conversations the brand is having with that customer across all channels.

Generate true value for customers

Customers respond well to businesses that generate value for them and the merger of BT and EE provides a unique opportunity to do this by bundling mobile, landline, TV, and broadband services into low cost quad-play packages. While this strategy has proven very successful across Europe, it has only previously been attempted by Virgin Media in the UK. EE has a history of successfully marketing industry new products – dominating 3G and 4G launches in the UK – something that BT could learn from.

However, true value for customers is not demonstrated only through cost. By analysing the vast amount of information that flows across its various services, BT can understand where each customer is on his or her unique journey and use this to deliver timely, personalised interactions that engage the consumer and optimise every experience they have with the brand, across both physical and digital channels.

The merger of BT and EE will be a complex process, but as long as BT puts its customers at the heart of its business using every interaction to deliver the appropriate conversation, they will achieve the right combination of service and value. It has a fantastic opportunity to take the best and leave the rest.

Jason Hemingway is chief marketing officer at Thunderhead

Bt Mergers and Acquisitions Branding

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