When I speak at events and use examples of customer-orientated companies, it is unfortunately almost always examples from American companies that get mentioned. There are of course other successful companies in England, Scandinavia and other countries but they never go the last mile – or so I thought until I met the head of customer services for the Danish phone company Call me.
Henrik Larsen, Head of Customer Services for Call me, says:
The first step on our journey was when we started a campaign to get people to adopt a more polite tone in their everyday lives. We called the campaign “Watch your mouth”. It was the first time in the history of the company that we went public with something that wasn’t focused on pricing. I remember that on the day before we launched the campaign we discussed what we would do if our sales were to stop. I think many decision-makers are scared to do something like this but we hit a trend. It was planned and we did a survey beforehand to find out what the general feeling was about how people talk to each other. This was what the campaign was based on. Very quickly after we launched the campaign, a number of journalists called us wanting to know more. The overall reaction was quite overwhelming.
Before we started the Watch your mouth movement we were focused purely on pricing, just like all other phone companies. We wanted all aspects of our organisation to be completely transparent and trustworthy. We need to treat our customers well and offer them the same prices, whether they are new or existing customers. This didn’t mean that our total number of customers grew enormously but we kept growing. We couldn’t be bothered with more campaigns focusing on our prices. We wanted to represent something different.
Money or heart
We want people to choose us with their heart and not because of a campaign. We don’t want it to be because of our prices but for what we stand for. Customers stay with us longer if they have chosen us with their heart or have had us recommended. Those customers are worth much more to us than the ones we get just because we have an offer on iPhones, which we actually never really have.
I think a lot of companies struggle to work like we do with what you could call ‘management with purpose’, where your heart is in everything you do. We are not just in it for the money but feel that we have a greater purpose. I think Call me is the closest you can get to a purpose-run company if we look at it in terms of our stakeholders and considering that we are owned by Telia.
When we provide our monthly report to Telia on the state of the company, we are measured in terms of how many customers we have won, the total sales and all the key figures.
At one point we tried to measure how much publicity we had gained as a result of our new campaign and movement. If we were to buy the same amount of PR and airtime, we would have had to pay tens of millions of kroner. People are still talking about the campaign to this day and we still have people calling us to become customers due to the campaign.
After we started the Watch your mouth movement, we didn’t want people to accuse the campaign of being commercial – which it basically wasn’t; it was a vision that became invaluable marketing. At first we didn’t use our logo when we were communicating publicly but today we do use our logo in our campaigns.
Watch your mouth in the curriculum
A year after we had started the movement we took it further in a co-operation with all the schools in the country. It was difficult to gain access to the schools so we developed a concept where Watch your mouth became part of the curriculum via an event day for the older children. We helped the schools by sending a director out to them who could help them make short films about talking to each other in a nice way.
Get your staff to create a WOW effect
After going live with our Watch your mouth campaign we started the WOW campaign which basically meant that we wanted the customer to get a WOW feeling every time they got in touch with Call me. We also want our customers to have a WOW experience when they visit our website. For a year and a half we have worked hard to train our staff. One of the things we have done is invite them to Fårup Theme Park. Fårup does not want to compete in terms of new, expensive rides every season. Instead, they have chosen to focus on the interaction between their staff and their customers. This has resulted in them opening Fårup Academy – which is the place we now send our own staff to for training so that they can learn this special way of interacting with the customers. Our customer service team aren’t used to physical interaction with customers like they are in Fårup so they can learn a lot from them. They teach our staff to laugh, cry and flirt with the customers – all very important skills.
Net Promoter Score®
We have split our Net Promoter Score® in two. The first part is the ‘transactional’ score, which is the customers who have been in touch with us through our customer services. For this we have a score that varies between 50 and 57. We look at this score once a week. The other is the ‘rational’ score, which at the moment is 51. Apple’s is 72 and it is our goal to get to that too.
Every time our customers have been in touch with our customer service team, they receive an email inviting them to respond to our survey, which is connected to a specific member of the customer service team. As such, we can measure how our individual staff are doing. Traditionally we also choose the player of the week. It isn’t really relevant who wins the title but the main thing is to put focus on it. Every Tuesday we go through the positive customer stories together with all our staff. Our newest approach is to contact the customers who have submitted positive stories as they can contribute towards our organisation in terms of putting focus on the customer experience.
What is the recipe for our success?
The reason we have managed to get where we are today is that we have taken risks. We have been lucky and good at hitting a trend with our Watch your mouth campaign, which is deeply integrated in the soul of our company. All of our staff were up for it and provided extra inputs. The movement started from within Call me and by our staff. It is not a campaign that was created by a PR agency.
When we were filming the commercial we wanted a scene where a customer is being rude to another customer in a supermarket. We needed ten extras and we considered using some of our own staff. We asked them whether they wanted to be part of it and 80% said yes. We ended up making the whole commercial entirely with our own staff. This was a really good thing because our staff were passionate on a personal level about the message we were sending. The whole organisation was all geared up for going out to the Danish public and talking about the rude tones people often use and we went all out. Our organisation would not have had the same boost if we had just hired actors. Since then, all Call me commercials have been filmed purely with our own staff. We don’t want to spend any money on actors if we can avoid it.
Love storm on Facebook
One of our greatest stories is the example of the Who Wants to be a Millionaire programme where two Danish celebrities were playing in order to donate money to a cancer ward in a children’s hospital. They were asked which phone company was behind the Watch your mouth campaign and they got it wrong. This was of course a shame for us. After the show, one of our staff suggested that we ourselves donate the money to the cancer ward, which we decided to do. We posted it on our Facebook page and managed to angle it diplomatically, apologising that we clearly hadn’t marketed our campaign well enough and that the sick children shouldn’t pay for this. We went ahead and donated the relative amount to the hospital and the reaction we got was a full-on ‘love storm’ on Facebook with thousands of likes and people sharing the news.