Nafees Anwar Choudhury, Deputy Director Brand and Digital Marketing, Grameenphone – ICE Business Times

Triumphing the Telco Race

In conversation with Nafees Anwar Choudhury on Grameen’s sustained success

The WideSpread Network
Any brand is defined by its own strength, for GP it is network. The primary goal of GP is to bring the benefits of mobile technology to the people. As a company, we are always focused on customer experience. Even as employees, our work is centered on that ideology. Telecommunication deals with technology, we are dedicated to bringing the fastest and most updated technology for our customers. In a short time, Bangladesh has entered the 4G era and GP has played a crucial role in ushering the mobile internet revolution. We had the widest 3G network in the country that has continued with 4G at present. People always prefer to use the latest technology because of the benefits it provides, it makes everyone’s life so much easier. Concurrently, GP makes every single investment decision based on that preference. Our greatest strength is the network itself and every employee of this company work heart and soul to sustain that superiority.

Evolving with Changing Time and Need
At one point, brand building was targeted around more or less a captive audience. That has evolved over the years as consumers have become more engaging and they love to interact with the brand. Majority of consumers in Bangladesh uses social media because they love interaction and that also applies to the brands they use. They love to provide feedback and comments about their experience with the product, it makes customer interaction crucial for brand building.

A brand interacts with its consumers every single day. For example, any post from our official Facebook page receive thousands of comments, we go through each of them and try to improve our services according to the feedback.

Previously, campaigns were evaluated through time consuming research but now we are receiving instant feedbacks which are instrumental in determining the effectiveness of the initiative. As people have become more interactive, we have stepped up our interactions to that level.

Along with that, we have to think about each of our 75 million customers individually. Every person has a certain preference, someone might require voice package, and others might need varying data package. Bangladeshis have been travelling abroad more frequently than ever, they require different roaming packages. A single product cannot fit everyone’s consumption needs; every single company in the world understands that. For example, Apple has different product lines to carter to different customers. From iMacs to iPads every product is designed keeping different users in mind, they even have more affordable iPhone XR. Therefore, just like every other brand in the world, GP has multiple product segments and each of them (voice, data, roaming) is equally important. Internet is now considered a basic human right; we develop our communications keeping that in mind. We have to keep every segment of consumers in mind and that comprises of different age group. We have made instrumental additions to our digital service; “My GP” app provides every service that you had to go to the Customer Service Centre for and it has been designed after considering customer’s feedback and research.

Similarly, entertainment has become an integral part of our daily life; Bioscope was launched to cater to that need. Customers have access to the latest music, movies, dramas and live cricket streaming through our platform; we also streamed ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. GP is moulding itself according to customer needs not purely as a marketing campaign but also that’s what we want to achieve as a company. Mobile companies all around the world are not only facilitating voice and internet services but also providing business and IT solutions and GP is evolving keeping that pathway in mind.

Tailoring simple and convenient services
It is our overall approach because the market is shifting towards that direction. Digital Bangladesh is the ambition of our entire nation, the fundamental definition of being digital is convenience and simplicity. These are the fundamental conditions of acceptability to customers. Digital products and services are making people’s lives easier, For example, “My GP” app is effectively assisting customers, for the same functions, it required them to remember USSD codes previously. The graphical interface is so easy even a child can operate it. We aim to meet the needs of our customers in the most convenient way possible through our digital services. A brand can grow with understanding the customers and innovating simple solutions for their problems.

Bioscope brings better Bangla content
As a platform, Bioscope is competing with YouTube and Netflix, these platforms do not have any library for Bangla movies, we cater to that need. According to YouTube analytics, there is an enormous demand for Bangladeshi movies and songs, there is a massive demand for entertainment and we are trying to deliver that through our platform. We are going through a learning phase in an entertainment platform and we are extremely happy with the current state of Bioscope. Customers regularly knock us on social media requesting different contents, as a marketer, it’s very satisfying. We are very proud to have shown ICC Cricket World Cup through our platform. Bioscope is the only platform that was streaming the games through a mobile app which is convenient for a lot of users; they were heavily dependent on our service.

Bringing finesse to the 4G service
First of all, 4G roll out across the nation is still an ongoing process and this has been done to ensure proper quality. There are certain aspects that are required to utilize the full potential of the 4G network, current SIM needs to be replaced with 4G SIM and with that a 4G enabled handset. So, it will take some time for people to adapt to the new ecosystem. We are continuously trying to improve our 4G coverage in remote areas of our country. Even though we have the largest customer base of 75 million, we are not complacent and constantly trying to improve our services. Our 3G network has been the best in the country, we have the same ambition for 4G as well and that’s why coverage is being improved by modifying every single tower under our network.

The 5G Dash
There are some technical issues that are required to be discussed for 5G. Currently, our (Bangladesh) current infrastructure is still not fully capable of harnessing the entire potential of 4G. The network towers, as well as handsets, require upgrading.
To be 5G ready, our infrastructure will require massive upgrading and 5G handsets needs to be more available in the market. As a company, we are fully committed to providing the latest technology to our customers and we are working towards that goal.

A Team Effort
I have a great team and they have allowed me to work to the best of my potential. We are actually supported by a big number of partners; from network to market it has been a tremendous team effort.

On the other hand, consumers have a lot of expectations from GP, our position in the market is the outcome of two decades of hard work and a lot of credit goes to my predecessors who have made this possible. My objective is to reach out to the consumers and leave a mark on their imagination.

Irrespective of the product, the brand gives it a soul. It is important what projections it makes on people’s imagination. The key to the success of a brand is to capture their imagination and how you interact with them determines that. From supplier to customer care, every employee is a representative of GP and through everyone’s communication, we want to tend to their needs and create a lasting connection.

Pursuit of Perfection
I completed my Bachelors in Business Administration so there was always an interest in marketing from the very beginning. I started my career in BAT (British American Tobacco) in sales after that I joined Banglalink where I had a few marketing roles, after that, I joined GP. Therefore, throughout my career, I was involved in sales and marketing. The thing that I like most about my sector is that you get instant feedback from the consumers. It always pushes me for perfection, I even get feedback from my friends and family and I find that very rewarding.

Keeping Pace with the Present
It’s very hard to know the future, I never plan for that long as an individual. I believe working hard in the present is key to a secured future. Ten years is too long a time period to plan something, especially as a marketer in the technologically intensive sector. Every step is a huge learning curve, as an individual, I am learning every day.

A Finger on the Pulse
First of all, they need to have a basic understanding of the basic needs of customers and how to communicate with them. To know the people for whom the brand is created, it is very important to know their insights. A marketer grows on knowledge and insights of the consumers.

One also needs to be academically involved, it is pivotal for career growth. You need to read a lot of books and articles regarding the industry, it always keeps you updated. I always keep on reading articles in my free time about the latest innovations. Most importantly, it is crucial to understand customer sentiments; someone’s social media does not represent aggregate Bangladeshi mindset. For that one needs to go through research papers and keep tabs on the latest news. Marketing communication depends immensely on emotional context; markets need to fully grasp that. You need to update yourself constantly and stay relevant.


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