|HEAR YOUR CUSTOMER
In the Telecom 4.0 world we are approaching, technology, networks, equipment and reach will not be the real differentiators. Nimble empathetic customer centric organisations, able to hear, understand and adapt service offerings to what their current and potential customers are saying will gain real competitive advantage. Viewed radically, there are only two types of telecommunications players – those who will understand this paradigm shift and are able to make the necessary changes to their mode of operation and those who will not survive.
Traditionally telecom players marketed services and solutions built around a network platform under their total control. The service reference point has always been connectivity. Operations and service delivery structures were organised into functional silos all orbiting the Networks team. There was little internal and virtually no external collaboration. Bigger was better and resources were firmly focused on the technology. The operator “owned” the customer relationship and spent little energy on ensuring customers were well served or fairly treated.
Technological innovation including the advent of the internet, mobility, digital networks and microprocessors have spawned a range of new often disruptive services. This proliferation of new offerings has accelerated the downward pressure on pricing, while the ever increasing demand for bandwidth has increased expenditure. Although data network (connectivity) revenue has increased significantly, the leakage of core voice and other high value services from the PSTN to alternative service providers has been dramatic. This combined a noticeable erosion in customer loyalty (who owns the relationship now?) and persistent churn has had a very dramatic effect on margins.
The new alternative service providers have the key advantage of being nimble, able to react quickly to new trends or operational requirements. They hear the telecom customer and better understand how to translate this into new products and services. Providing as a better overall customer experience is often a core strength.
The challenge for the traditional telecom players becomes how ensure they stay relevant in the new operating environment while at the same time devising different ways to care for and keep their customers happy. Bureaucratic, silo type operations will need to be restructured so that nimble is possible and customer is at the centre of everything they do. The winners will likely adopt a systems integration approach, where collaboration with alternate providers, upstarts and even competitors is the norm. Customer relationships will likely be shared so that the best possible offerings are available.
Competitive advantage will be realised by those players able to modernise their business approach and hear their customers. It is no longer a case of “build and they will come” but rather “perhaps we will come if you offer this in an attractive way”.