Build a better bundle – or create new value?

Mobile service providers are obsessed with creating new bundles and are eagerly investing in analytics platforms to enable them to refine and personalise them further. But, the truth is that most consumers simply want cheaper, more flexible services. But, hidden in the consumer subscriber base are thousands – millions – of small business customers. Why not do something for them that has real impact?

Bundles have been a key tool in setting mobile price plans for many years. They provide a convenient package for subscribers and allow service providers to easily iterate offers and to introduce discounting schemes.

However, the value of such bundles has been eroded through time, so that, incrementally, more minutes, more text and more data have been added to both pre- and post-paid offers. Customers benefit, but providers face tighter squeezes on their margins. Of course, there are value added services that can bring benefits, but these are typically tools to increase stickiness and to reduce churn – they rarely result in new income from consumer customers.

The creation of such bundles occupies a huge amount of time and effort, with new investments in analytics platforms helping service providers to refine their offers and to create new, more personalised packages. Some have opted to allow users to select what they want, creating a more bespoke service. All well and good, but, in the end, such efforts all lead to the same outcome – inevitably, the customer will expect more, so the package will have to evolve, and so on. It never ends.

That’s all very well, but continually tinkering with bundles is a somewhat limited approach. It misses the opportunity to do things differently and change the service that is offered at a macro, not just a micro level. For example, almost all mobile service providers have a large number of business customers, hidden among their consumer subscriber base. These can be invisible, as they may use consumer or individual contracts. They blur the lines between the traditional separation of “business” and “consumer” segments, so the mobile provider may not even realise that it has an existing, captive audience to which it can offer dedicated business services.

This is because most mobile service providers don’t think about the many thousands of companies that have only a handful of employees. Some even make it difficult for such companies to purchase a corporate account, deeming them too small for such privileges. As a result, many millions of business users are stuck on personal contracts or even pay-as-you-go offers.

What would be much better would be to introduce new capabilities that help them further their business goals, such as personal/private identity management, time-based preferences, or the ability to group calls between users and their devices, while keeping them on their current price plans. These are modest steps towards full-blown UC and mPBX services, but they can help even the smallest business.

So, instead of endlessly playing with bundles and micro-segmenting consumers (who, after all, mostly just want the cheapest, most flexible packages), why not spend some time thinking about how the needs of the millions of business customers who are already customers and who could benefit from new functionality that really helps?

We call such capabilities “micro business services” and they are a simple, but effective way of going beyond the bundle to add value for subscribers – and to secure new incremental revenue.

Value Added Services, UC, Micro Business Services, Unified Communications, MSPs, mPBX

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