Mireille Muscat is one of many talented women sitting in senior management positions at Malta-based telecommunications company, Melita. From entering the automobile industry as a minority to becoming Melita’s Head of Marketing, Mireille knows a thing or two about the importance of connectivity. In our latest Powwow, she shares her thoughts, lessons, and insights into how she runs her team.
You began your career as a design researcher in the automobile industry and now you run a marketing department. Can you tell us about which experiences in your personal and professional career prepared you for your role at Melita?
I started out as an engineer completing my graduate studies in Germany; working in a male-dominated environment was one challenge that, I believe, prepared me for taking on senior roles in the telecommunications industry. Having said, I’m proud to work for Melita, where 40% of our senior management team is female.
Ultimately, living and working abroad in unfamiliar environments helped me to face many uncertain and dynamic situations, which occur frequently in the marketing and telecom industries.
I noticed Melita’s ethos centers on values such as connectivity and flexibility. How do you use these tenets in your marketing messaging and how do you ensure that you’re leading your team using some of these values?
Our main messages center around making sure people understand that we are a quality connectivity service provider that’s constantly inspired and fueled by the needs of our customers—that’s where the flexibility comes into play.
In terms of how I lead my team and how I make sure we’re utilizing the value of connectivity, it’s about communication; communicating the plans, the strategies, the innovations that we’re doing in the company, etc. We share a sense of pride for constantly investing in developing technology, and that also inspires the team to come up with new ideas, both in terms of products and in how we engage people.
So then speaking of engagement, can you tell us a bit about your marketing funnel? How exactly do you get those at the top to make their way down, and which stages within the funnel are most important for you?
In the past, we focused a lot on the bottom of the funnel: clearly communicating our unique selling positions to direct people to buy, giving offers, really focusing on sales. The logic behind this bottom-of-funnel approach was that in Malta, our brand has a long history, people know Melita, so we had less of a need to make people aware of what Melita is. Since we primarily pushed for sales, the customer experience was really pushed aside and that affected our brand perception. So we had to start from scratch, working from the top of the funnel, regaining the trust of those who used to be our customers in the past and had a bad experience.
It sounds like Melita experienced a shift where you went back to those customers and began relying on relationship marketing alongside your USP. How do you use your customer data to your advantage when you market to churned customers or leads? How do you use that data to create a stronger relationship with your customers?
We recently carried out segmentation research in order to understand what parts of the market we’re doing well in and which could use some improvement. And that generates ideas on how to communicate those segments where we are not so strong. We’ll tweak our above-the-line communication, campaigns and product ideas to be in line with what these particular segments need. That’s one approach. We also quantitatively track our brand health, regularly asking customers and non-customers what they think about our brand. This gives us insights into how people feel towards our brand, our product, and services. And that gives us a lot of information on where we should allocate our resources to change the perception, be it communication, processes improvement or product and service improvement.
Then, of course, there’s our current customers’ Net Promoter Score research where we ask our customers, whether they would recommend Melita. We see customers’ pain points and again, look at where we can focus. Whereas the brand health tracker is more of an “I feel I love Melita,” or, “I feel I hate Melita,” the Net Promoter Score is, “Would you recommend Melita? And if yes, why? And if not, why not?”
As a telecoms company, I imagine you have endless data on how customers utilize your products, which types of products they use in their households, how many times they communicate with your brand, and so on. What do you think your biggest advantage is when you have access to all this data?
One of the biggest advantages that comes out of the data we gather is the variety of products we offer based on that information. For instance, we’ve gathered that customers with all four services (internet, tv, telephone, and mobile) are much happier and much more loyal than customers with less than four services.
Which tools are in your martech stack?
We work with Google Analytics, Google Cloud, etc to build models to understand future behavior. We also have analytics in our retail outlets, which measure clients’ footfalls and client interactions. We know if the customer went to a shop to pay his bill or went to the shop to purchase or to ask a question or to talk. Then, we use Optimove to help us better engage and understand all these various segments. We also use Optimove for campaign analytics, campaign automation, and journey building.
Melita isn’t just an impressive stack of technology. There are also people on the other end putting that data to good use. What does the ideal mix of data, AI, and the human touch look like for you?
AI tools gives you an understanding of where the pain points are coming from. For example, churn prediction will tell you that this customer called in more than once to the call center before he asked to be disconnected or churned. AI provides these customer behavior insights, however, the human touch comes from across our product team, from our analysts, our product managers and our communications and market research people. For example, a churn model may suggest 70 variables that have a predictive effect. But it takes the human touch to filter those variables according to strategic priorities or knowledge of what is in the process or product innovation funnel; it’s pointless optimizing a churn model around an attribute that will soon be obsolete. There is also the brand communication and engagement, where you must know how to communicate with these various personas and which channel to use. Some people watch TV. Some people still go to retail outlets. They would want the human touch. Depending on the persona, you can figure out the best mix of AI and person-to-person contact for each customer.
Within the past few months, Melita has expanded into a new market, Italy. Have your customer personas evolved or are you in the process of evolving them as you move into Italy? How does that move affect your strategy?
It’s a very different strategy and a totally different market in Italy, where we position ourselves as a premium provider. We’re saying, “We’re transparent, and we have the best service for you. Try us out. We’re a bit more expensive than the others, but only on the front, because other service providers have a lot of hidden costs.” From the outset, we’ve made sure that we provided a positive customer experience, and didn’t dive into fighting for the lowest possible price point.
In Malta, we already have a substantial base; we have more than half the markets in broadband and TV and a third of the market in mobile. Here, it’s more about making sure that those customers remain loyal and part of that is about always being on top of how we keep those customers engaged. It’s more of a focus on a loyalty and retention strategy.
From growing your base, what trends or themes will remain most important to Melita?
I think personalization, or really understanding how to communicate with different personas will continue its importance. Something that we are looking into, for example, is having different landing pages, different types of communication for our customers coming in from different parts of the web. We know we’re targeting a certain type of client with a certain type of advert, and if that advert shows on a particular website, you know it’s that persona. So when this person would click on that advert, it would take this person to a landing page related to what they want to see. That’s one thing that we are looking at.
Other than that, it’s creating a seamless omnichannel experience. As I mentioned earlier, we have the data, it’s just about managing this experience. And I think, with Optimove, we’ll have even more data to be able to say, “Okay, this is working. This is not working. Let’s tweak the message here. Let’s send an email, send an SMS to that segment.” And that is something that will evolve in the coming year or two.
This next one is a little bit more lighthearted, less data-heavy. If you could have dinner with anyone from any time period, who would it be and why?
I’d go to dinner with Jeff Bezos so he could tell me about how he’s managing to succeed in all these new markets and using all that data and its digital wonderland. I admire Jeff Bezos for the way he scales excellence. He keeps growing but doesn’t sacrifice the quality.
Last question: any tips for young marketers who are just starting out in the field or any common mistakes that you would advise them to avoid?
I think one mistake that even Melita has made in the past is to not focus on the customer experience. That should be at the forefront of what you do. It’s not just about messaging, it’s not just about content, it’s not about what you say, but it’s about what you do and how you do it. So quality service sells. And that’s quality from A to Z, so from building the product to delivering, to servicing after sales throughout the customer’s entire relationship.
I think marketers must realize they’re the business drivers, not just the communicators. Marketing touches every part of the company as well as the clients and potential clients. So what marketers must see is the customer’s point of view before doing anything.