How can telcos understand SMBs? Part 2

Following on from our previous article, we explore further ways in which telcos can easily and quickly target SMB* customers, rising to the challenge raised by STL Partners. Telcos can succeed with SMB customers – here’s how. Learn more at MWC 2020.

*or SMEs, if you are European!

In the first article in this series, we explored and questioned findings by STL[1], an analyst firm, regarding telcos’ understanding of SMB (SME) needs. While it’s true that many do not have a great understanding of SMB requirements – and, as a result, are missing out on the huge opportunity that this market represents – there are pioneers that have worked hard to address this gap and have succeeded.

How have they achieved this? Let’s start with differentiation. As we noted, the report highlights the differing needs of SMBs. This is an important – and valid – point. Even today, most telcos don’t differentiate their offers, delivering vanilla service packages and bundles to the widest possible selection of customers.

This means that they essentially sell the same thing, irrespective of whether a company has 10 or 100 or even 1000 employees. Worse, many fail to consider that a company with 9 people is actually an entity with purpose and needs, as telcos tend to consider such organisations as consumers, so they don’t even try to sell them something beyond basic connectivity offers!

But differentiation isn’t hard. One of the reasons why our customers have succeeded in all business segments has been the flexibility we offer. They are able to customise service and workflows to deliver true differentiation to meet the needs of specific segments – typically, based on company size and need, but also based on vertical sector. They have been able to achieve mass customisation.

Now, for many years, the idea of mass customisation has been seen as unaffordable expensive and essentially incompatible with mass manufacturing (or, more relevant to our industry, large customer bases, reaching into the millions). But that’s simply not true. We even wrote on this topic back in 2008.

Thanks to the flexibility of our EasyDesigner, our customers have been delivering deep personalisation and customisation to their customers for more than a decade. It’s even more powerful today than it was back then and allows them to provide individual, personalised service flows to even the smallest company.

Next, let’s consider pricing. There have been two basic approaches to pricing for business customers – premium and low cost. Neither is really fit for purpose any more. What matters are flexibility and value.

Flexibility is important, because it allows telcos to offer a range of pricing options, rather than choosing a one-size-fits-all approach. Similarly, telcos don’t need to price at the lowest rate to win customers – other levers are available, such as removing contracts or reducing their duration. However, of much greater significance is the notion of value.

Value, coupled with differentiation, provides an opportunity to focus on the contents and components of an offer, so that they can be tweaked (using EasyDesigner, for example). This can mean including what is needed from a base set of components, rather than a series of extraneous (and often irrelevant) product features, so that the customer actually receives a meaningful offer, or creating a new feature and service flow.

Our customers have adopted all of the approaches above – not necessarily at the same time, but when and where appropriate in support of their strategic and commercial aims. They have the flexibility to provide different flavours, different packages – not just vanilla, but strawberry, chocolate, mint, pistachio and more.

However, there is also one fundamental point that is key to success with SMB customers. You have to know who they are, which takes us back to the original point. STL asserted that most telcos aren’t addressing the SMB market, partly because they do not know what they want. It’s worse than that – they do not know who they are, so can’t even begin to apply the solutions that we propose to meet their needs.

Earlier, we mentioned the fact that many telcos simply group companies with 10 or fewer employees with their consumer base. As such, they do not have any insights into who these companies are, what they want and how to reach them, as any meaningful insights and data are simply counted in consumer metrics.

It’s hardly surprising that many don’t know how to address this market but while STL is right to point to the missed opportunity, it’s not enough simply to recognise this. To be successful with SMBs, telcos must first recognise that they probably already do sell to them – and, indeed, may have vast numbers on their books. It’s just that they think they are consumer and retail customers.

As a result even before data mining and the introduction of more granular analytics to uncover analytics about these hidden customers and to extract useful data from the consumer subscriber base, the easiest thing that a telco can do is simply to target an SMB offer alongside any consumer packages and, crucially, to remove the arbitrary limit that means they fail to recognise that they have such customers in the first place!

By doing so, they will very quickly start to gather metrics and insights into what SMBs want, allowing them to hone and refine offers, using the tools that we provide to add increasingly granular differentiation. So, why not talk to us to see how you can get started to capitalise on this opportunity? Meet Gintel at MWC to find out.



SME, Service differentiation, MWC, SMB, EasyDesigner

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