Last week I was working on a Value-System Model of the communications industry for some specific project. I needed some measures of how Service Providers are adding value to their end customers – typical measures that Service Providers report, of ARPU, Churn etc. is useful only to their shareholders.
Here is a partial list of attributes that I had identified in the course of this exercise that go on to define the value expectations (nothing new; except as a list to look at)…
An end user expects the communication services to be present at a physical location and may consider that value has been delivered by the Service Provider just to receive the connectivity in that location. With almost all networks becoming as available at a location as another, this ceases to be a differentiating value but still remains a measure that could influence decision making of a user for given local conditions (like coverage in my home office is poor from one operator vis-a-vis another).
The ability of a network to connect the user to his desired service without denial depends on the capacity planned and built in the network. This too has ceased to be a differentiator but definitely continues to be a localized hygiene.
This refers to a range of features that a network may allow its users to invoke – from call forwarding, conferencing, number portability, toll-free calling, etc. This too has ceased to be a differentiator but continues to be hygiene.
Availability of the services that have been contracted with the Service Provider beyond locational constraints. This refers to the same user experience that has enabled cordless systems to be demanded or for roaming in mobile services. This is an optional requirement and not a differentiator. This is also hygiene – the case of CDMA operators who had to shift to GSM so that they could support roaming is proof of this value expectation from end users.
This is an optional value and may also be a non-differentiator in some markets where this value has been rendered to a commodity / hygiene. This refers to the ability of the user to enjoy the services of the service provider from several devices & through several medium.
Range Of Offerings
Like any restaurant that provides à la carte options being better than table d’hôte, the range of offerings and the ability to choose individual features / services is a very important requirement for the end user.
Needless to say, the price point at which a user gets his service (value for money), the ease with which payments could be made, incentives – all these play a significant factor is end user perception of value rendered by the Service Providers.
This refers to the ability to deliver the service in an uncomplicated manner for specific end user. Examples include setting up connections, application interfaces on devices and even the availability of devices in the market suiting the taste of the end user.
This is what differentiates WiMAX from LTE – although it is still early days for LTE, the ability to bring in devices so that the service can be accessed easily is going to make LTE far more successful than WiMAX ever would be.
Speed of Fulfilment
This refers to the speed with which a new service request is delivered to the end user. There are operators in this era too that take 1 whole week to activate simple services leave alone services like broadband on copper, which have to be qualified before being delivered.
Assurance of Service
Of course, it is but expected that the Service Provider will remain committed to the contractual terms and has put in place all measures to ensure that contracted features and capacities are made available.
Speed of Recovery
This is an important measure regarding how quickly the Service Provider is able to rescue his service in the event of a failure.
You can read this as accuracy of the accounting system to capture the usage of the service by the end user and produce consistently correct bills to the user.
Security is a very important value. Protection of privacy apart from data security is another important value.
Enterprise and Business customers may additionally expect the value delivered by the telcos to include ability to digitise their business ecosystem.
Some more points that I will not elaborate but are important nevertheless are as follows:
Advice To Readers
All the values above are a part of natural expectations from your Service Provider. If you are dissatisfied with any aspect of the above, I would strongly advice you to change Service Provider.