Follow me onto a short excursion into a peculiar country – characterised by a telco market at the forefront. In 2011 mobile telephony had its tipping point in terms of fixed to mobile conversion, mobile broadband increased by factor 10 in the last 3 years and the workforce is flexible to a degree that one third is working away from a fix location. Now, imagine a person like me who moved to this country 2 years ago and wondered about quite many a things: why are people monologizing out on the open street? Why is mobile telephony so darn cheap in comparison to my home country? And what sense do TV ads make where landline outlets are ripped out of the wall, why would anyone want that? Leap in time back to now … the same person 2 years later, now fairly well integrated, sits at home reading these lines. There is no active fixed line outlet in his wall, he uses his cellphone for both private and work, domestic and international calls. And in the tube to and from work he checks emails, streams videos and music or even surfs. When in Rome do as the Romans do. All that can cause occasional annoyance to him is bad call quality or sluggishly loading videos.
Here, as in most other countries, enigmatic sizable organisms control the mobile life. The services they render are at the foundation of all the person above - and everyone else - long so much for, provided through dedicated networks, full of technology and packed with services. These providers differ. One is the oldest and biggest but not necessarily (and self-admittedly) the best in class in terms of service. The others are chasing the top dog´s market leadership with different strategies. One is the outlawish cheapjack, touting its price leadership ceaselessly, another one branded flashily and the third one seen as a bit more serious whilst not as cheap.
The trophy they are now all after is an elusive creature: customer satisfaction. No one was ever able to spot this one in the crossfire. Still, being the latest object of desire it is now the talk of town, or rather its absence. Studies underpin this famine and we have elaborated on it before (see our blogpost It´s not all in the network). What these studies don’t tell however is an explanation as of why. One would think it matters as the customer is king and such, and wanting to find a remedy calls for approaching the reasons behind. I go by the assumption that the underlying reason is in fact a lack of focus or attention. If you follow me in this and if there are different ways to pay attention then there must be several ways to customer satisfaction. If not all then at least many roads lead to Rome. Common wisdom would list the competitive differentiators as network, value added services, pricing and marketing, probably in that order. And these must all be seen as sources to derive customer satisfaction from.
Something dramatic occurs in the land of the battle: one of the providers whilst massively investing in its network in order to meet the increasing data hunger does something supposedly outdated, namely, launch a marketing campaign pivoting around exactly that fact. Hereby, it seems this provider puts the customer in focus, originating from his needs, flexibility and reliability of mobile services. This move would, elegantly enough, strike 2 out of the 4 customer satisfaction flies at one stroke. The hunt for the elusive creature is on it seems. Who will bring it in you believe? It is maybe so that this initiative suggest that everything could eventually be about the net – given the value it provides to the customer is accentuated and tied back to focusing on the customer and his needs. This could both prove a successful long-lived branding and a viable way out of (or to profit in) commodity hell (see our blogpost To commodity hell and back). Bravo!
Other members of the hunting club, follow this track! Do good and talk about it! After all, it might all be in the network.
Franz-Josef Arnuga is a Consultant at Northstream
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30 Mar 2012 | Northstream