Taking a market-orientated approach means generating a true understanding of your customers. It applies to both operators and vendors alike. Vendors need to understand the challenges faced by operators, and operators must understand their customers. This means considering differentiation in the market and understanding the needs of different customer groups: in other words, customer segmentation.
It is no longer sufficient to divide customers into obvious groups, such as consumers and business workers. In a world of increasing competition from over-the-top (OTT) providers, it has become important to build a richer understanding of each segment. In the business world, this means considering different vertical and horizontal segments. Horizontal segmentation can be achieved by defining different sizes brackets for different companies, but vertical segmentation is much richer. It means understanding the needs of different industries or sectors, such as:
- Oil and mineral extraction;
- Local Government; and
Of course, there are many more groups that can be defined, but we have to start somewhere. The key is to match the capabilities of the operator to each of these groups and develop a proposition that makes sense to each of them. However, there is a trick to this. It may be that the core product offer is actually fundamentally similar for all business users. However, it is the way in which it is presented that makes the difference.
This means that operators might consider investing in solutions that specifically speak to the needs of each valuable segment: presenting a proposition that makes sense to a prospective customer when they are searching for a particular solution. If the solution speaks directly to their needs, it will help lead them on a journey towards actually purchasing the product. Some effort in building a suitable portal and associated collateral is required, but taking these steps will effectively demonstrate much greater empathy with the problems (as they see it) of a particular user group.
But it may also be that some subtle differentiation is required in the product or solution itself. With traditional solutions, particularly for Centrex services, this can be difficult, if not impossible to achieve. To build a winning proposition, operators need to start from a core product and create differentiation as their proposition matures. The right toolset is required from this. Gintel’s Easy Virtual PaBX can help operators achieve this. Here are our suggestions for building a winning enterprise-focused solution:
- Start with a core product, targeted at the most promising market segment
- Offer individual customers differentiated features to ensure that the solution effectively matches their needs. Once signed up, continue to work with them to ensure that it evolves to suit their changing requirements. This will build a long-term relationship and ensure much greater stickiness to the service
- Develop new propositions to target other attractive segments within the enterprise, both vertical and horizontal
- Use differentiation capabilities to ensure the solution behind the proposition is tailored to the needs of the identified segments
- Continue to differentiate, both for all user groups and for individual segments and customers
Of course, such an approach suggests that there is an intensive requirement on customer care. How else is differentiation to be achieved? Well, that might have been the case a few years ago, but Gintel’s solution ensures that the costs of differentiation can be managed effectively, as control is placed firmly in the hands of sales and product management, not core network engineering. This means that operators deploying Easy Virtual PaBX can select the level of differentiation they wish to pursue. Once they start with a core product proposition, it’s up to them entirely how far down the customisation route they venture. The point is, with Gintel, they are enabled to start this journey and then can determine how they wish to develop their approach to the market.
And starting out is important – it doesn’t matter in which country the operator is located, the fact is that enterprise customers represent a significant opportunity, particularly in the SME market which has been under-appreciated by providers for years. Launching a core Centrex product with simple horizontal differentiation (packages according to company size), for example, enables a strong foothold to be created in the marketplace. This foothold can then be built on, according to the individual needs of a particular market to ensure long-term differentiation and profitability.
Why not investigate what Gintel has to offer? We can show you how to launch a rich set of enterprise Centrex services and how these can be leveraged to create lasting value.
Tore Saeter, April 2010