With O2 now in talks with Three for a takeover, and EE well on the way to being purchased by BT, the telecoms market is set for a massive shake-up. In addition to the M&A activity, the bidding war for Premier League TV rights saw the content sold for a record £5.4 billion. Even the CEO of the Premier League admitted his surprise at the size of the deal, but conceded the power play for a full quad play offer was one of the driving forces behind it.
So what is driving this change? The belief that "quad play" is the best way to package and sell telecoms services. Quad play is a term that has been around for a while now. The idea is that a telecoms company can offer a fixed telephone line, broadband, TV and mobile service. For consumers, they get a one-stop shop for all their services. It means dealing with fewer providers, receiving consolidated bills and facing a much more manageable overall service.
The convenience of getting all your services from one provider is one factor that has been tagged to quad play's potential. Get the customer service right and businesses will be able to retain customers and charge them higher amounts for the combined quad play offer. In research conducted by ClickSoftware last year, we found that over a third (34%) of consumers have either cancelled a service or stopped using a brand altogether as a result of poor customer service. It is staggering to think a third of the customers that businesses come across on a daily basis can be so quickly and emphatically put off spending any more money with them.
With the stakes ratcheting up all the time, the customer service aspect and ensuring there is consistency in service delivery across the company has never been more important. Regardless of the role, every employee and contractor needs to be provided with the training, tools and information they need to perform a good job. If you are receiving all your services from one provider, you will expect a consistent experience across the piece, irrespective of whether some of that work is subcontracted. Consistency is where companies will differentiate their own quad play offer.
Whether it's discussing a service over the phone or an engineer installing a solution at a customer's house, everyone working for the company is a brand ambassador and the end user shouldn't be able to notice a difference in the levels of service. Customers need to feel like they are dealing with one company.
Industry commentators are in agreement that bringing all of these services together should lead to better customer experiences. That said, in any acquisition, merging the companies together can be a difficult task. This is further complicated by the multiple suppliers each telecoms company deals with and how these are integrated. For quad play to take off, these companies making acquisitions will need to work out their incoming supplier roster quickly to minimise disruption during the transition.
Each telecoms company should now be in a more powerful position to deal with suppliers. Because there will now be fewer telecoms companies to work with, service suppliers will need to compete more fiercely than ever. The purchasing power will be in the hands of the telecoms companies and it will be up to suppliers to provide the best possible offer.
What we will see as a consequence of a quad play market is the development of a marketplace bidding system. Suppliers will need to tender their services via a marketplace platform and the telecoms company will then be in a position to take its pick of the supplier it feels provides the best service.
This new way of working will also benefit the telecoms companies as they will be able to have full visibility across all field resources, including contractors. Extending the same technology utilised by the company to its contractors, they can better ensure consistent processes and levels of service are carried out across the organisation. Regardless of which service provider is performing the task, the visibility should supply reliability and a better experience for customers. Not only will this achieve greater customer satisfaction but it will also do so without the need for additional staff overhead, by increasing capacity only when it is needed to maintain service performance levels through demand spikes.
The opening salvos of the quad play battle have now commenced. What will be crucial over the next year for these companies is making small but consistent gains within their organisations. Implementing this consistency across the business and with suppliers will bring the benefits of quad play to the fore as the customer experience is built and improved upon. For quad play to really take off, it is crucial this customer experience element improves right off the bat. This should now be a priority for those telecoms companies that have gone out on a spending spree. Utilising service providers in a new marketplace model is one way of ensuring it takes place.