Most telecoms firms have a value network proposition. They tell us how much it will cost for 10, 20, 50 or unlimited gigabytes of data. They throw in texts and voice calls to sweeten the deal. You might get free roaming as well, if the wind is blowing in the right direction.

But the value network proposition has created a toxic business environment for telecoms firms. A death spiral of price discounting and an inability to differentiate against competitors.

The consequences have been profound. Not only have revenues stagnated while digitalisation has accelerated, but telecoms firms are perceived as being less valuable than the applications they support. Investors see them as worthy but dull – worth little more than their network assets. Yet they’re still expected to invest every 8-10 years in incredibly expensive CAPEX programmes.

What sticks in the industry’s throat most of all, is that a brand with just a little basic software, few assets and no profits can be valued far more highly than all their carefully crafted engineering.

Customers likewise do not value the companies that connect them. They expect connectivity – viewing it like electricity – but they don’t value it. This perception was robustly challenged during the COVID-19 crisis when some home truths became apparent.

  • Not all connections are equal.
  • Price is not the only, or even the most important, criteria for selecting a connectivity supplier.
  • We are completely network-dependent and a better performing network is essential to our ability to work, enjoy the connected world and receive essential services.

The opportunity

The reassessment of connectivity occasioned by COVID-19 has afforded telecoms firms a time-limited opportunity to realise a long-held ambition: to reset the telecoms value proposition. But to do that means a simple thing has to happen. The industry has to become better at selling quality networks.

What is a quality network?

A quality network proposition is based on a number of factors such as:

  • appropriate network performance
  • continuity of connection
  • trust that the connection is safe
  • ease of use and ease of management
  • assurance that somebody will fix things if they go wrong.

Experience is part of the value proposition

Critically, a great network experience has to be backed by a great customer experience. As Verizon’s Radha Sankaran commented to me when explaining her company’s Quality Network Proposition: “We want to be as famous for our experiences as we are for our networks”.

Beyond the obvious elements of experience it’s possible for telecoms firms to add quality-enhancing features to the proposition, such as CCAPS, which meets customers’ needs to reduce effort, to feel safe online and to have digital confidence – repositioning telecoms firms as trusted enablers of a digital lifestyle.

Value is still vital for inclusion

The Quality Network Proposition does not obsolete the Value Network Proposition. VNP continues to be important for digital inclusion and cash-constrained customers. QNP simply delivers choice. A mix-and-match approach enables customers to choose the services they need and can afford. But what QNP does is open up the hood so that the service provider makes clear exactly what is being promised and what is being delivered.

Show & tell maximises the benefits

A QNP approach boosts direct revenue for telecoms firms and also strategically positions them for the-revenue-that-is-to-come. It should be unobtrusive by design. But the benefits being delivered – such as continuity of service, optimisation of devices, protection from malware – should be highlighted on the billing portal as part of the value being delivered by the DSP. This unleashes the maximum effect of the quality network from a customer experience perspective – boosting satisfaction, stickiness and loyalty.

Teresa Cottam
Teresa Cottam

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