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August 2, 2007
By Peter Radizeski, RAD-INFO
Second quarter earnings are being reported. As usual, ILEC’s are ringing up big income. But in the channel, the integration is still a work in progress.
The Four Horseman seem to have a problem internally. Granted that this is still fairly early. But agents still need to be able to do business. Agents need prompt quoting, a streamlined order process and traceable commission payments. The order paperwork is getting heavier. Why is that? By now, shouldn’t it be a simple form? Especially when call centers are taking orders for similar services without any paperwork. (A little parity instead of a handicap would be nice.)
We are in the Internet Age. Quoting should be automated and fast. There is no reason to wait weeks for a DIA or frame quote.
The resurgence of the reseller market can probably be attributed to the difficulty of working with the Four Horsemen.
The funny thing about telecom is that it resembles the airline industry.
Consumers expect the experience to be miserable. And consumers are rarely disappointed. (And it takes so little to step above that crowd – and in telecom it is usually the consumer’s experience with the agent that can make that difference.)
I noticed that one ILEC is up to 60 percent penetration in bundles. So 60 percent are locked in to a multiyear contract and probably saw a bill that was higher than expected. In my mind, bundles and multiyear contracts mean that you know you can’t retain the customer with your service and billing practices.
Executives will claim it is about ARPU, but it’s really about locking in the customer. I learned this year that retention is a different financial silo.
It is a metric executive bonuses aren’t based on. So all anyone is concerned with is adds/acquisitions. Hence, the multiyear contract and the bundle.
Here’s a piece of advice to the Four Horsemen: Take just half of your ad budget and hire/train more customer service reps – and more people to facilitate the channel. Stop trying to brainwash people into thinking you are a caring company – and actually become one. Your agents do the marketing for you – just help them do it.
Also, If you promise something, deliver it – like $10 DSL or the $9.95 Bring Your Line Back. Don’t make everyone jump through hoops for it. That’s ridiculous. (I’d tell you to change your bill, but that won’t happen before the apocalypse. And billing is probably a profit center for you four.)
I know there is some vitriol here – and it would be easy to dismiss it all – until you remember that not only am I a telecom agent who works with the Four Horsemen, but I am also a consumer who buys from three of the horsemen.
Read more about:Agents
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