Management World Americas: Putting the customer first

Posted: December 5th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Management World Americas: Putting the customer first

Yesterday, I was able to listen to some of the customer experience management (CEM) sessions held here at Management World Americas. Of course, customers were the core element of these presentations, but what became abundantly clear was that more than ever, customers are being thought of as assets to service providers’ business. When it comes to CEM, it’s no longer just about managing the experience – true CEM is going beyond that and ensuring each interaction with the customer is positive and consistent, which in turn will build a stronger connection with the service provider.

For instance, I listened to Joe Ewan from Innocent, a UK-based consumer food and drink company that specialises in natural smoothies and juices. This company has the number one smoothies in Europe and a giant fan-base because, as Joe put it, they invest the time and effort for a two way relationship with customers. One piece of advice he gave to telcos is that it’s easy to talk, and it’s harder to listen – but if you listen, you can learn. For example, every month Innocent generates a report that summarises feedback from the various customer channels like email, Twitter, Facebook, etc. This is a truly honest synopsis of both the positive and negative, and has been used to drive real change in the business. In addition to helping improve products and processes, this approach keeps customers satisfied because they like knowing that their experience matters.

I saw this approach exemplified in a case study session with Equinix, a premium carrier data center provider offering global interconnection opportunities. For Equinix, a seamless global experience is essential with over 60% revenue coming from customers across multiple regions worldwide. To achieve this, it mapped the customer lifecycle and looked at each interaction, keeping in mind that every touch-point is important. What the company developed was a 360 customer view for quick and effective communications. For instance, they learned that some customers were unhappy because they were receiving too many messages from the carrier. The answer was simple – cut down on these communications.

Now, Equinix provides a seamless experience to their customers and was able to drive positive change just by listening. It’s refreshing to learn of examples like these as we continue to put the customer first, and I’m eager to hear more as the show progresses. Have you heard any interesting customer-centric stories recently?

Around the World

Posted: August 29th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

FierceWireless Europe…
Telefónica ready to spend €1.5B on UK LTE auction

It seems that the adoption of LTE is continuing to burgeon around the world. Telefonica, a Spanish-based telecoms operator, announced it would invest around €1.5 billion to acquire LTE spectrum licenses at an upcoming UK auction. The new mobile licenses are designed to bring fast download speeds to the country, and UK regulator Ofcom said it will auction the LTE spectrum for the 800MHz and 2.6 GHz bands with the expectation that operators will launch commercial service in 2013.

Interestingly, Telefonica has already been working closely with the UK markets, as the region represented 11% of the company’s total revenue in the first half of 2012. The company has also made strides to expand its services to other parts of Europe. In 2010, the operator also acquired LTE spectrum in a German auction, bidding a total of €1.379 million, on top of a €842 million bid last year to acquire LTE spectrum in its domestic market.

On another note, Telefónica’s is enjoying the benefits of China Unicom’s strong performance this year, as the company holds a 5% stake in the Chinese company.

Light Reading India…
Smart Strategies For Telco Growth

According to Jatinder Singh, the principal correspondent for Light Reading India, the telecoms industry in India has been in a crisis due to dwindling revenues and the saturation of the urban market. Therefore, it’s time operators reassess their strategy and begin to innovate and expand their services.

Singh points out several key areas in which operators can focus on to turn around the telecoms market. The first is to leverage 3G technology. More specifically, the price of 3G technology has begun to decrease, and the time is ripe to push this technology in hopes of bringing awareness to tier 2 and tier 3 cities.

Next, the article states that Value Added Services (VAS) have shown recent growth in the market, and telecom companies need to create an ecosystem in which operators and VAS companies share revenues.

Finally, to turn around the telecoms sector in India, operators need to focus on providing services to the enterprise businesses and expand into global markets. It’s noted in the article that the business landscape is dominated by small and medium business, but the enterprise space in the country is largely untapped.  Also, many analysts believe the expansion into other parts or the world, like Africa, is the key to the growth and success of the telecom companies in the future.

Fierce Wireless…
Is Unlimited Data Making a Comeback?

We highlighted a story in July that discussed how operators, like Comcast, are offering tiered data services to manage their network. Now Fierce Wireless reports that some operators are offering unlimited data plans to attack the tiered — and arguably unpopular — data pricing model.

Since the industry moved towards a tiered data pricing structure to manage bandwidth costs, both T-Mobile and Metro PCS have seen dramatic subscriber churn. In fact, each has lost 205,000 and 186,000 net customers respectively in the second quarter alone.

According to Mark Lowenstein, managing director of Mobile Ecosystem, unlimited data offerings can help wireless carriers get their foot in the door with consumers, and set them apart from their competitors. Unlimited data “starts the conversation,” he explained, noting that consumers will then evaluate the other aspects of the providers’ service.

Do you think tiered data plans are going to the wayside? Which do plan do you think will provide more success in the future?

Conference Report: IIR Cloud Summit in London, 17-18 June

Posted: June 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

Going by column inches alone, Cloud services are one of 2010’s hottest topics around telecoms. At this show, the quality of delegates was certainly high, and there was plenty of engagement between the stage and the conference floor.

Few delegates or speakers disputed that Cloud services will be a big part of the business IT landscape, with a significant swing to the Cloud model over the next five to ten years. Few expect the change to be to be big bang, but as physical and logical components of the IT infrastructure are replaced over time, we should expect the question of whether those functions can be performed equally well (and more cheaply) in the Cloud to become increasingly standard.

Flexibility and cost-efficiencies remain the key drivers—highly attractive to many businesses for reasons which don’t require too much analysis. McKinsey calculates the average utilization of back-office infrastructure to be as little as between 15-30%—figures which correspond to a lot of very expensive kit sitting idly around for much of the day. Key words which came up with some regularity included ‘dynamic’, ‘fast’, ‘efficient’, ‘elastic’, ‘green’, ‘optimized’, ‘minimal commitment and planning requirement’…in principle, it seems that if you can make them fit your business model, there’s not much to not like about Cloud services.

Discussion was much more open on whether, and how, telcos would fit into the Cloud services landscape. Though there was strong consensus that Cloud services were a viable offering for telcos, delegates felt that they would need to choose their roles in the model with care and that Cloud would almost invariably be a partnership play, even for tier-zero carriers.

Telcos have many strengths to bring to the Cloud market, including the well-rehearsed brand trust, broad, accessible market and communications know-how. The telcos’ capability to support utility services, consumer and SME markets, and high-volume, back office processes was also regularly cited—major IT vendors may understand virtualization and IT management very well, but managing large- and mass-market propositions is something with which they are far less familiar. These basic telco strengths could prove significant in capturing SME and SMB market share.

Though it wasn’t an OSS-focused show, natural curiosity couldn’t be suppressed for long, and I asked several carrier representatives whether Cloud services created a compelling need to buy new OSS/BSS. While some felt that modern OSS/BSS should be flexible enough to handle the requirements of Cloud services—a view that Comptel would wholly subscribe to—many others anticipated that telco-oriented systems would be tested by IT-oriented services and processes. Interestingly, more than one saw OSS confusion as an even bigger challenge, suggesting that Cloud could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back in terms of consolidating multiple silos into a more rational platform.

As the show proceeded (and a certain amount of ‘Cloud fatigue’ began to set in—does any telco subject justify a conference of more than one day?), it was noticeable that ‘Cloud’ is as susceptible to scope creep as any other telco concept, seemingly able to accommodate an almost limitless series of service offerings—application hosting, IP communications, mobile Internet…even legacy voice was at one point described as a ‘Cloud service’. As far as some analysts are concerned, if it doesn’t live in a box in your building, it would seem you’re at liberty to call it ‘cloud’. However you define it though, Cloud doesn’t seem likely to evaporate any time soon.