Subscribers have played a major role in the establishment of mobile voice and data service in the last decade, through the experiments of all the existing mobile operators, subscribers have been made to pay for services that most of the time did not offer them good service. Subscribers involuntarily became guinea pigs for the mobile operators. New services continue to be launched where the subscriber takes both the position of a guinea pig and a client bringing money into the business.
As Africom and Valley Technologies are expected to launch their hotly-anticipated new mobile phone networks in what will be the most direct challenge to incumbent mobile operators, they need to keep in mind that their laboratory is not the market and their guinea pigs are not the subscribers. From the word go they must just bring a good service to the subscribers otherwise they will not be any better than the devils we know.
While potential subscribers are still excited by unconfirmed precise details of the launch that include final prices and information on when they will go mobile at commercial levels, they need not to enter into guinea pig contracts at the subscribers’ cost.
The entry of new participants in Zimbabwe’s telecoms market is likely to result in significant price wars and also better services. To gain market share entrants reduce tariffs, resulting in the lowering of the average revenue per user. This intense competition is likely to widen the number of options available for consumers, sparking a trend of higher churn rates (percentage of subscribers discontinuing their subscription). And as the telephony penetration approaches saturation, retention of customers will become the most important challenge for telecom operators and will, thankfully, make it difficult to continue the trend of experimenting new services at the customers’ expense.
Strategic mergers and planned acquisitions will definitely help the partnering telecom operators to address the various challenges together. With innovation being the key for developing applications and services, these partnerships should also focus on incorporating innovation into their services to gain revenues in the almost saturated telecom markets.
The key to creating value is engaging subscribers in direct conversations and creating a lasting relationship based on it through effective customer care centres. But currently these customer care centres are just sending the wrong signals. It’s like they’re saying to you, “Have you ever experienced bad service, if not, subscribe with us and you will.”
Creating value for subscribers means shifting from the open loop “push and forget” tactics to a real-time customer lifecycle management. It involves sending right messages at the right time, listening to their feedback and using it to make future communications more relevant.
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