I was in the UK last week and caught up with the CEO of HTK, Marlon Bowser. HTK Horizon™ is a hosted service (“Software-as-a-Service”) that helps organizations or any size to “sell more and serve better, at lower cost” through highly personalized (‘micro-targeted’) inbound and outbound communication using email, SMS text messaging and interactive voice calls, plus new social-media channels such as Twitter and Facebook.
As a small company they can only be focused on solving immediate problems for businesses that are prepared to pay. There’s no academic arguments on segmentation, propositions and go-to-market; its quite simply find a seam of gold, mine it, and keep an eye on where the current seam can be jumped to an adjacent seam to mine.
Their existing customers include:
• The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (the national ‘Floodline Direct’ warning system)
• Telefonica O2 (high volume marketing and customer service IVR for pay-and-go customers)
• Metropolitan Police (‘Neighborhood Link’ community messaging)
• Birmingham City Council (‘Birmingham Community Alert’ community messaging)
• Centrica (automated appointment reminders by telephone for British Gas customers)
• Specsavers (IVR for nearest store location)
In the open letter to operators on improving their customer service, I shared the awful experience I was put through just to report a fault. Imagine if operators used HTK’s service, they would have recognized I’d reported faults in their network before (customer insight), and could have identified I’ve used social media to highlight poor service provider performance, so would be respectful of my time. And after the fault was repaired, instead of pretending it never happened, would make a relevant offer (based on customer insight) to compensate for the hour of my time they wasted.
This is not difficult, two of my local restaurants (small businesses), Delicious Heights and Goodmans, recognize me by name, know what my family like to eat, are quick, and whenever there’s a mistake make us feel more than cared for. All Operators need to do is copy my local restaurants, these small businesses get it right. Operators must use services like HTK‘s to emulate the experience I get with my local restaurants. Market surveys have shown the top quartile of businesses by customer experience compared to the bottom quartile companies have 14.4% more sales, 15.8% less churn and 16.6% great advocacy. The math is simple, its simply the incompetence tolerated in large organizations in low competition markets that perpetuates this situation.
Email open-rates around 1 to 5%, while SMS open rates are at 97%! Mobile is an important component of marketing. And in the list of HTK‘s customers you can see how messaging, location, call control, device status and even user profile could all be used to enhance their services to enterprises. They’re an ideal partner of operator APIs. The challenge is operators must get their act together. As Foursquare’s VP of mobile and international, Holger Luedorf, said “For a company of 80 people, it’s almost impossible to implement these on a carrier-by-carrier basis.”