Orange is launching a premium service for customers next year, as the French operator looks to reinvent its retail portfolio with a fleet of "Smart" stores.

The French operator revealed its Essentials2020 strategic plan in Paris today, which includes revamping its retail stores, digitising its customer relationships and rethinking its branding.

Orange said its "First" premium services would be launched in France and across markets in Europe next year.

Among the services it suggested it could offer is a premium installation of services or "privileged" access to digital experts.

It is planning to open 40 Smart Stores by 2018, offering dedicated areas for trialling new products and services. The stores will also offer personalised advice to its customers. It said a fifth of its stores across Europe with be Smart by 2018.

Elsewhere in its plans, Orange said it wanted half of its customer interactions across Europe to be through digital channels by 2018, as part of a push to offer a unified customer experience.

It also plans to use big data so the group can gain greater understanding of customers. Every single transaction will be logged by Orange, with the aim to give staff a greater ability to offer tailored products and services.

By next year, Orange will introduce a single contact number for its French subscribers, as a means of simplifying its customer experience.

Meanwhile, the operator also updated its branding following research carried out last year. It revealed its customers had six key themes they saw as central to their lives: wellbeing, family, work, money, home and fun.

Orange said it is not planning to change its current logo but it has introduced five new colours to its marketing, as well as refining its graphics and making its typography clearer. Its marketing campaign will reflect the slogan “always in touch to connect what’s essential in your life”.

The operator will launch a campaign on Instagram to publish photo stories about how telecoms affect customers in a bid to woo younger consumers.

Stéphane Richard, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Orange, said: “Our customers must be able to benefit from the digital revolution with absolute confidence, with service of exemplary quality wherever they might be. We want them to be individually identified in their every interaction with Orange so that they benefit from personalised services.

"To enrich and facilitate their lives, we want to help our customers discover the latest digital trends at the cutting-edge of innovation. This approach is focused on the expectations of our customers and the quality of their experience with Orange. And it is through this that we will set ourselves apart from the competition and find new sources of growth.”

European Communications will have a full report of Orange's Essentials2020 strategic plan tomorrow (18th March)

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