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Knocking Down the Telco Language Barrier

Trends and Insight 104 Add to collection

Telcos need a common language for the millions of business customers who don’t understand them

Knocking Down the Telco Language Barrier

A recent government Ofcom report found that the vast majority of small business customers struggle to understand the products and services telcos want them to buy.

This difficulty isn’t limited to print and online material; the same thing happens when they turn to telco staff for help. Business customers often just don’t understand what telcos are talking about.

But it’s not as if business customers aren’t trying. 80% see telco services as fundamental to their success, which means they’re prepared to put the time and effort in to get telco products and services right. The problem seems to be that while telcos are trying to sell products using unfathomable terminology, small businesses are trying to solve their company’s communication and data needs. The two just aren’t connecting.

According to the report, small businesses of 50-249 employees spend an annual average of £11,323 on their communications services. There are about 5.5 million of these businesses in the UK, which suggests they are worth about £62 billion in revenue to the telcos. So, why are they getting this so wrong?

There are about 84 million mobile subscriptions, 27 million fixed broadband lines and 32 million fixed exchange lines active in the UK, which means the telco market is pretty much saturated. Most businesses that need telco provision are already buying services from somewhere. This means acquisition from competitors is the main source of new customers, while retention and growth of existing customers become much more important. So perhaps, the telcos are focused more on retention than persuading competitors’ customers to join them?

The impact of this failure to communicate is that a majority of small businesses turn to massmarket consumer products and the brands they are already familiar with to meet their business needs. It turns out that this is a bad situation for small businesses as well as the telcos.

Ofcom’s report confirms that the happiest small businesses are the ones who have a specialist business telco provider. They typically enjoy shorter contracts, lower costs and better access to support. For the telcos, these millions of small businesses are ‘hidden’ amongst consumers, which removes the opportunity for them to focus on retention, and to grow revenue through cross-selling and value-added business services. 

“The impact of this failure to communicateis that a majority of small businesses turn to mass-market consumer products.”

The report also reveals that small businesses who have a specialist business telco provider have mostly found them through word of mouth, so it seems there is a lot of B2B marketing going on that just isn’t working.

Feedback from business customers is consistent across the board. They want telcos to take a more consultative approach with them, helping them to solve their problems rather than trying to sell their products.

B2B telco customers vary enormously in the complexity of use, technical fluency, size and need, which is why it’s hard to get it right all of the time. However, based on business customer feedback, it seems that there is an opportunity to explore a more modern approach to telco’s B2B marketing. If ever there was the need to create more tailored, relevant experiences that resonate with different customer groups, this is one of them.

For example, in our recent work for a leading UK telco company, we changed how they communicated with SMEs. Rather than creating the typically long and formal, technical thought leadership paper, we created a series of short and easy-to-digest pieces of content delivered across multiple channels – perfect for time-poor SMEs. Downloads increased considerably and had an MQL uplift of 14%, proving the value of this customer-centric approach.

For the telcos who want to win loyal customers in this market, we suggest they overhaul their approach and find a common language in their communications that their customers will understand.

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gyro UK, Mon, 11 Nov 2019 16:44:22 GMT