Mintel 2017 North America Consumer Trend “Echo Chamber of Secrets” examines the idea that consumers are living in their own bubbles of information that leave them with a lack of diverse content and viewpoints. It’s no stretch to extend this same idea to corporations, whose employees can become so focused on their own business targets and immediate concerns that they lose sight of the perspectives and ideas of their customers. Businesses that get trapped in an echo chamber risk implementing or regurgitating services that meet internal goals, while becoming out of touch with their customers.

Pay-TV providers, the majority of which continue to perform dismally in customer satisfaction ratings, seem to be stuck in their own corporate echo chambers. The industry is ripe for a customer-centric shakeup and DISH wants to be the provider to do it, by getting into the field, understanding the customer and putting her first and foremost in business conversations. In order to achieve this, DISH has launched “Tuned In To You”.

Into the field

The backbone of “Tuned In To You” is an immersive training program DISH launched in October 2016 called Base Camp, through which corporate employees spend time interacting with their customers, by taking service calls and accompanying DISH technicians on in-home service visits. DISH says 700 employees, including senior leaders, will graduate from the program by the end of 2017, and it will be required training for all new hires at DISH headquarters.

To get customers involved, DISH has developed a persona it calls the “Spokeslistener,” who will listen to customer feedback, and “fight […] for every TV-loving man, woman, and child out there.” So far, DISH has rolled out two commercials (viewable on YouTube here and here) and launched a social media campaign on Twitter and Facebook to introduce the Spokeslistener and encourage customers to provide feedback.

Breaking down barriers

When we consider efforts by other companies to put the customer at the center of the business, T-Mobile offers the gold standard. Since the 2013 launch of its “Un-carrier” initiative, T-Mobile has systematically listened to and addressed customer frustrations. Through a series of “Un-carrier” events, the provider has unveiled, in a very visible way, each of the major changes to its business that have been inspired by customer feedback. Each event gets widely amplified through both social and traditional media, as well as marketing efforts.

T-Mobile has been unafraid, unapologetic and even confrontational in its approach to transforming wireless, due in no small part to the huge personality and accessibility of its celebrity CEO John Legere. Unlike most CEOs, Legere frequently interacts with T-Mobile customers via social media, where he responds to their concerns and frustrations. Legere’s (and other T-Mobile leadership’s) visibility, relatability and accessibility have helped T-Mobile successfully dissolve the artificial barriers that typically keep corporate leaders removed from everyday customers. The approach has helped T-Mobile steal impressive numbers of subscribers from its competitors, and has led the rest of the industry to mimic many of the carrier’s game-changing moves.

Can DISH go the extra mile without senior leadership sustaining regular communication directly with consumers? Even if senior leaders aren’t engaging with customers on social media every day, DISH should look for other ways to keep them involved in the conversation and demonstrate that they are, in fact, hearing their customers. The success of “Tuned In To You” will ultimately depend on whether or not DISH demonstrates that the feedback of its customers does, in fact, reach senior executives and drive fundamental changes to the way it does business.

Emily Groch is Mintel Comperemedia’s Director of Insights, Telecommunications. She provides omni-channel marketing analysis and competitive insights to wireless, TV, internet, over-the-top, and home security service providers across the US and Canada.

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