Vodafone’s announcement last week that it is shutting down its nine email domains could have caused a widespread customer panic.
But we at Adestra have been impressed with the way the company is managing this potential upheaval.
Changing email addresses is a monumental challenge because an email address is as much a personal identifier as a postal address and a telephone number. Shutting off an email address is like cutting the power to your house, but Vodafone appears to be doing everything it can to reduce potential disruptions.
Instead of just sending an email announcing the change and giving customers a couple of weeks to find another provider, Vodafone has set up an entire online experience (“Connecting You to the Email Experts“) to make the changeover as easy as possible for its customers.
Priority for email marketers: Help customers re-permission
The impending change has also created a major opportunity for marketers to reach out to its New Zealand customers with Vodafone domain names such as vodafone.co.nz, vodafone.net.nz and the other seven addresses that the company will switch off on November 30.
Tip: Visit the microsite to see all nine domains and everything Vodafone is doing in its campaign.
We recommend that marketers query their own databases to find email addresses in the nine domains scheduled to be switched off on November 30. Then, create email campaigns for those customers that build on the Vodafone announcement (see details in the next section) and link to the Vodafone site.
Set up a process to transfer subscriptions to customers’ new email address. If you use a preference centre, you can link to it directly so customers can update their information themselves. Although Vodafone has promised to forward email from affected domains, it will do so only while the customers stay with Vodafone.
Take a page from the ISP’s customer-facing focus, and reach out proactively to assist your own customers. If you can help someone stay connected, you’ll gain a loyal customer.
How Vodafone uses information and transparency to reduce disruption
People in the email community don’t like to see consumers forced into changing email accounts because they could encounter disruptions and technical problems. But Vodafone anticipated the many concerns and issues their customers might face with a dedicated microsite that walks users through the entire process and explains everything in everyday, non-technical terms.
Besides being a comprehensive information center with links to recommended email services Gmail and Outlook, FAQs, checklists and how-to videos, the microsite is a great example of corporate responsibility to its customers.
We were impressed with the breadth and depth of the material, all geared to help their customers succeed in switching their email accounts, even down to making their Vodafone Ninjas team available and giving live help by phone or chatting in its Community user group.
Create the complete experience: The tactical approach would have been to knock an email with a quick FAQ. The strategic approach is to create a complete experience with information like a comparison chart helping customers decide whether to choose Gmail or Outlook.
The six videos cover three crucial areas for each of the two recommended services: setting up an account, importing emails and importing contacts. Each one took time to script and shoot.
The company took the time to think through the situation and anticipate all the places its customers could stumble as they switch their accounts.
After years as an email service provider, we know how hard it must be to run an ISP. The global flow of spam and the ever-changing landscape of regulations and customer expectations can be overwhelming. Companies such as Google, Yahoo and AOL have spent billions of dollars on upkeep and administration.
Although it’s sad that Vodafone didn’t have as long a run as their email counterparts, we applaud the company for what had to have been a painful admission that they’re better at phones than email.
As a company that also keeps a laser focus on customer service, Adestra salutes Vodafone for its tremendous efforts at focusing on its customers’ needs and working hard to make sure they succeed in the changeover. In the long run, that’s what we all should be about, right?