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Econet’s Platinum Status: What does it mean to me?

   

Econet Platinum SuiteI got the call a couple of weeks ago…  “You have been awarded Econet Platinum Status!!”

How did I get jumped into this elite club? The letter said it was in recognition of the massive excesses I have demonstrated when it comes to buying airtime, specifically data bundles. Well not in those exact words but you get the meaning.

I heard about The Platinum Card from the article in late June this year. Two months down the line I am part of “the inner circle”.

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Whoop! Whoop!

Thanks to this new platinum status I get to use their fancy air conditioned facilities in Bradfield Bulawayo to surf the internet in peaceful bliss far from the madding crowd while I slurp on some Espresso, purse-lipped with my pinkie finger sticking up in the air.

No more long winding queues when I need a SIM card replaced. I get my very own customer service consultant  with the mandatory Econet standard issue bubbly voice to call anytime and I also get a spiffy card that I will be sure to whip out at any given(or taken!) chance.

An Econet line is a lot more expensive to run simply because they do not have the same level of freebies that the other networks offer their subscribers.

Between their run in with POTRAZ last year and recent tax events Econet’s going to have to be a little more creative when it comes to customer retention programs especially since they have declared that competing on price is off the table for them. I guess this is one reason why they implemented the Econet Platinum Program.

As a loyalty program, I am not ashamed to say that it is working for me.  At this precise moment I feel exceedingly loyal, but I also want more. Soon it will not be enough for me to just have the card, I want to feel the value of the card.

Membership means that cardholders will be given preferential treatment when they are dealing with Econet’s business partners, for example members are entitled to:

  • Automatic upgrading of their credit status at Edgars Stores with twelve month payment period and a $1000 buying limit.
  • Discounts when using Avis car hire and ZIMOCO Vehicle services
  • Exemption from joining fees for Body active gym
  • Golf club membership
  • Special services for Steward Bank account holders
  • And more deals in the future as they include more business partners

All of the above listed items show that they are trying to find a way to make life easier for their more dedicated subscribers. A commendable effort Econet!

However, there are weaknesses to their current thrust. All of the above listed items are geared towards a certain level of affluence or economic class. This is a class I obviously aspire to but that I am not yet part of.

I seriously doubt that I will be hiring a vehicle from Avis anytime soon. ZIMOCO service technicians would laugh me out of town if I tried to show up there with my mom’s old ex-jap Nissan Sunny.

The gym membership is a probably the most practical offer for me and yet disappointingly that gym actually is not yet available in Bulawayo. The Edgars credit upgrade was available to most account holders so nothing special there. Sadly I’m not keen on playing golf as well.

These programs are in all honesty a little snobbish for the average person like me and kind of betray the income levels of the people that thought them up.

The implication is that because I am buying a lot of airtime or using a lot of their data that I must be rich and therefore they will push me towards their other partners so that they can get a huge slice of the cake as well, not to mention the sneaky/blatant self-promotion of Steward Bank.

I find it quite counter intuitive for them to offer me spending alternatives that will mean I cannot afford to buy as much airtime as I currently buy. Alarmingly the card has a February 2015 expiry date! At this time they will review my patterns for the period of my membership and decide if I still qualify.

I must say when I was informed of this, I did express that it kind of felt a little like blackmail because now if I want to stay with the “in” crowd, I need to make sure I am buying enough airtime to qualify! The pressure! I am going to have to start watching the endless stream of kitten videos on YouTube to keep up!

I think the problem is that they did not take the time to really analyse who they were reaching out to. They just compiled a list of big spenders hoping to work out the kinks overtime. I do,  however, believe that they are definitely committed to improving this because last week Econet was out to hire a CUSTOMER ANALYTICS MANAGER who will be tasked with

“Analysing all interactions with customers and their impact on customer experience growth and Develop models and tools for insightful program analysis, customer analysis and business forecasting.”

If the incumbent is any good then very soon the Platinum Membership could get very exciting. We expect great things!

For me a simple thing like a personalised letter addressing me by name would have been a nicer touch instead of the photocopied standard issue Dear Subscriber letter.

Let’s open the debate on the game changer status of this initiative.  Are they just copping out on simply giving the promotions that the other networks offer?


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