Two Lessons in Corporate Perspective

Last night I’d planned to watch the Canucks game. As it turns out, it was being shown on a new premium sports channel called Sportsnet One. This is extra-confusing for fans, because Sportsnet One replaces the pay-per-view games of past seasons.

The model is different (I’m assuming it’s part of some push by the cable networks to remain relevant). Instead of purchasing pay-per-view games, you have to subscribe to the right television package which includes this new channel.

I was a little baffled. So I did some googling and found this page on Shaw’s site which aspires to explain to consumers how the new channel works:

Now that the free preview has ended, Sportsnet ONE and its companion channels will be included with Shaw Digital TV, HD Sports, or as part of the Sports Pack.

Do you know the specific TV package to which you subscribe? I sure don’t. Why would I? It’s a decision I made a year ago (and many customers probably made it five or ten years ago) and instantly forgot. There’s really no incentive to remember it. We pay no attention to our digital bills, either, because our Shaw fees are automatically deducted from our account.

Yet the corporation assumes that I must be familiar with the details of the service they provide, the particular names they assign to them and which one I ordered months or years ago. They can’t see past their product suite to see the customers’ perspective.

The solution? Link to some kind of online cheat sheet that enables customers to determine what package they actually subscribe to. When I called Shaw to enquire, the automated phone system told me that “the wait time was longer than 30 minutes”. How many support calls could they have avoided with a little tweak to their website?

Chatr and Mixed Messages

Every time I pass this billboard, I chuckle to myself.

It reads “fewer dropped calls than the new wireless carriers”. I was initially perplexed by this sign, because I’d only started seeing the chatr brand a few months ago. How could they be differentiating themselves from the “new wireless carriers”?

Then I learned that chatr is Rogers Communications’ new discount mobile carrier, designed to compete with Telus’s Koodo and new-comer Wind Mobile, among others.

Rogers is keen to stand arms-length from the chatr brand. There’s no Rogers branding in any of their ads that I’ve seen, and the only place you’ll find the Rogers name on the chatr site is in the legalese.

And yet the billboard’s language seems to imply that “well, everybody knows that chatr is, in fact, a brand owned and operated by the venerable Rogers Communications Inc, so you can trust us”. They seem to have incredible faith in the efficacy of their launch campaign, because this ad depends on your understanding the relationship between Rogers and chatr.

Or maybe they’re just trying to lie to me, and convince me that chatr is much older than it actually is?

Also, lower-case, misspelled brand names? So 2001.

Written by

Darren Barefoot is an author, speaker and digital strategist. He’s the co-founder of Capulet Communications, and co-author of “Friends With Benefits: A Social Media Marketing Handbook”.

10 comments

  1. But what are you going to do?

    Both oligopolies represent 1 of 3 choices in the market. They build things for their own needs, not for their customers who are beholden to a few to no options.

    If you’re only mildly frustrated you should try to switch plans or providers.

    But what incentive do these companies – Rogers, Shaw, Telus, Bell – have to change?

    The ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) for the Canadian mobile industry is among the highest in the world. After necessities of life like housing and food, they have one of the largest shares of your wallet.

    As an enlightening exercise, add up the total you pay per year for these services – TV, mobile phone, land phones, Internet – and use that as a bargaining tool against them when you ask for their loyalty or retention teams. At least that provides some perspective.

      1. I don’t know about that. 45% profitability ($823 million) on wireless revenues of $1.8 billion seems to tell a different story.

        The public story the carriers want you to believe is that competition is affecting them because then we stop thinking about them as an oligopoly.

        But really? They’re almost unassailable because they own the networks and retail channels. Their wireless revenues continue to grow.

        As long as they play the same game, the new companies are small change. Their role in the old magicians’ trick is to distract you as he reaches for your wallet.

  2. You talk about two separate things. One is marketing communications – the internal marketing team deals with these names all the time, so they assume they’ve succeeded in educating the marketplace. This is lingo, whether it is from technical people or from marketing people.

    Linking to a website? Well, again, marketing communications needs to learn that you need to permalink everything. I find large providers like Shaw or Rogers make this the most difficult, especially when they have “region walls” where you only can view certain packages depending on where in the country you live.

    James nails it with his comments on Chatr.

    I think that these carriers, if they feel the need for off brand brands, should treat them more like startups and learn from them and evolve. Changing ANYTHING with the main brand probably takes at least half a year to complete, and so these new upstarts get to set the agenda for disruption.

    Carriers: run these off brands as mini startups, and you’ll learn more from it.

  3. “Also, lower-case, misspelled brand names? So 2001.”

    I guess it’s kinda like your name when you respond to post?

    =)

    “darren Reply:”

  4. Most people aren’t aware that Rogers owns Fido and chatr, just like how Koodo belongs to Telus and Virgin Mobile belongs to Bell. You’re right. The corporate messaging there in regards to “new” carriers is terrible.

    On a side note, chatr wasn’t created to compete with Koodo. That’s what Fido is for (or the “new” Fido that was relaunched with the current yellow color scheme in 2008). The “new” Fido was repositioned to compete against Koodo, Solo, and Virgin. Chatr (or “chatr”) is here to compete with Wind Mobile, Mobilicity, and Public Mobile. But yes, I’m splitting hairs.

    1. Oh and another follow-up to the chatr billboard: It’s the result of a lawsuit. The original ads said something like fewer dropped calls than “Wind Mobile,” and the people at Wind filed suit. By saying “new carriers,” it’s less specific and more a-okay. But not really.

  5. This sort of stuff is a continuation of the way corporate websites are often organized around the way the company is structured, not the way customers might find what we want.

    For example, go to http://www.canon.ca and try to find a printer. There are some in “Consumer & Home Office,” some in “Office Equipment,” none listed in “Production Printing” (despite the word “print” in the title), more in “Professional Imaging Products,” and yet more in “Business Solutions Sales & Service.”

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