Discover what Guillaume Boutin, CEO Proximus, has to say about being Best Telecom Operator Brand and how they scores high on Brand Experience.
How will you maintain this first place in 2021?
Guillaume Boutin: First of all, I’d like to stress that being recognised by our customers is the ultimate reward, we are delighted and very proud of this score. After a very unusual year in more than one respect, we were keen to strengthen our social role as a key player on the Belgian landscape. We also announced our inspire2022 strategy. This recognition is one of several encouraging signs as we pursue this strategy and put it in practice in our commercial offering and in our brand positioning. Our ambition is to become the benchmark historical operator in Europe. To maintain our leadership, we are committed to ensuring the relevance and attractiveness of our services through tailored solutions and innovations in addition to building the best infrastructure through Fibre, 5G and a superior Wi-Fi experience.
We want to become the preferred digital service provider for Belgians on a daily basis.
At the same time, we also want to strengthen our commitment to climate issues on the one hand and digital education on the other, as a ‘leader’ and especially as a major player in the Belgian economy.
Last year, the top 3 in the Telecom Operator Brands category consisted of Proximus, Telenet and Orange. But this year, Telenet and Orange scored lower than last year while Proximus had a higher score. How do you explain this?
Guillaume: As far as we are concerned, this is yet another encouraging sign of the deployment of the inspire2022 strategy. At consumer level, the essential role of telecoms, which is to provide efficient access to the network or to quality services and experiences, undoubtedly stood out this past year.
And the fact that we acted very quickly to ensure the best connectivity for all or to be the first to take solidarity measures in the face of the crisis (free calls, data boost, unlimited internet, entertainment offering, billing flexibility for some of our customers, including the hospitality industry, or support for the cultural sector with the Podium 19 channel that was created).
Obviously, the groundwork that we had done was also able to influence their perception positively, beyond the health crisis and the aforementioned initiatives. The agenda has been busy in recent months with the launch of relevant offers (see new Flex and Business Flex portfolio) or the improvement of the customer experience through the enhanced functionalities of MyProximus or Pickx, or the various partnerships and JVs in order to accelerate the deployment of the fixed and mobile network.
Your “Brand experience” was higher than that of your competitors. What do you do to make the Proximus experience so positive and memorable?
Guillaume: The customer experience is at the heart of our priorities and crucial to the sustainability of brands. On the daily basis, this translates into a programme that aims to raise awareness and mobilise our employees so that everyone can understand and share our brand values, while providing the best customer experience at their own specific level. And that is how each customer will also eventually become an ambassador.
To do this, we need to adapt, continually keep tabs on the customer experience and adopt a clear positioning in a super-competitive market.
We use an internal tool to measure, collect and analyse customer comments and this allows us to better meet their needs day after day. In 2020, around 44,000 customers a month gave us feedback; thanks to this, we are improving our products and services and rethinking the end-to-end experience.
The customer experience also gained momentum during the pandemic. Thanks to the chatbot, digital tools, digital kiosks, video meetings - and also to human interaction which is irreplaceable in some cases. All these different factors contributed to this positive and memorable experience.
“Understanding customers and catering to their expectations is an absolute necessity for all brands.”
You had the best score for “cross-selling potential”. Do you find diversifying your product range important?
Guillaume: Again, we are happy with the recognition. The scope is expanding and is an integral part of the strategy. Our MyProximus application aims to become our customers’ ‘digital companion’, enabling them to access a multitude of digital services and offerings. And to offer integrated experiences and working with local and international partnerships, of course. Like the partnership with Belfius to develop an innovative banking offering, which is more tailor-made.
The Best Brands study reveals that Proximus is the brand that best meets the expectations of its consumers. Did these expectations change last year, and if yes, how did Proximus adapt to these new expectations?
Guillaume: Understanding customers and catering to their expectations is an absolute necessity for all brands. We collect customer feedback through various consumer surveys or by asking them whether they are satisfied. We co-create the design of specific products with our customers. And finally, data, which are at the heart of our marketing strategy. Data analysis allows us to understand, respond and innovate in the way that is best suited to consumer demand, while always strictly complying with the rules on confidentiality, trust and data protection. Consumers have become more ‘responsible’, questioning the impact of their actions or behaviour, particularly with regard to climate issues. The crisis also highlighted a major health concern, something that we particularly felt when we launched 5G.
How does Proximus deal with the challenges of social responsibility?
Guillaume: The pandemic has clearly demonstrated the societal role that telecom operators can and must play. At the same time, this pandemic has also strengthened our belief in Proximus’s mission: we are opening up a world of digital opportunities so people can live better and work more efficiently. Connectivity and digital services have never been more crucial in our daily lives. We took rapid action to assist customers, as they dealt with strict social distancing and lockdown measures, while ensuring that companies and public authorities could continue to operate. As I already mentioned, we have offered discounts and free data to support our customers, focusing in particular on hard-hit players: education, hospitality, culture and healthcare.
Beyond our actions in the context of the COVID-19 health crisis, the inclusion and accessibility of digital tools for all is also a major priority. Our initiatives are aimed at young people, the elderly and people with disabilities in order to reduce the digital divide (e.g., our partnerships with Technobel, coding school 19, Molengeek and Bednet/ClassConnect).
In addition to digital, Proximus also has an important role to play when it comes to reconciling the challenges of digitising our economy with environmental challenges.
In terms of our ecological footprint, we have already made significant efforts and were able to neutralise our own CO2 footprint. But we are even more ambitious and have committed to achieve a positive net contribution by 2030.