Ten Things I Want From You

Back on the 19th October I mailed James Enck about an idea I had that was inspired by his ‘Ten Things I Hate About You’ post that he gave at the Telco2.0 event in London. It was interesting to see what the outside view of things that are wrong with Telco’s are given that I am employed as a Strategic Advisor to one (Orange) so I thought it would be useful to get in touch with various people I have met over the last year or so and ask them what they actually want from a Telco. The idea being to promote a conversation with the community that could then be presented to my management and of course posted here and on James blog.

The basic premise is to turn the Ten Things into the things that people want from a Telco as opposed to what they see wrong, in fact after spending a lot of time looking over the answers that came in it occurred to me that they are almost the same thing to some people, as in what they want from a Telco are the fixing of things they currently see as wrong! May seem obvious now however I for one have found the feedback very useful in that a lot of it mirrors what I initially thought and have discussed within my peer group within the company.

The list I suggested initially to James was: (I couldn’t think of Ten and several others couldn’t either)

  1. Flat rate voice bundle
  2. Flat rate data bundle
  3. Pan European Bundles
  4. Unlocked/Open Handsets
  5. Open SIP stacks
  6. SMS/MMS API
  7. Open Location API
  8. Broad adoption of Internet IM on mobiles
  9. API access to own data (call history, contacts etc)
  10. ?

The Ten Things I’ve collated together from the answers looks like this

  1. Improve the Basics (16)
  2. Transparent pricing (11)
  3. Embrace internet and don’t compete or lock out (8)
  4. Business and Personal(7)
  5. Open Handset (6)
  6. Flat rate Data (4)
  7. Open development environment (4)
  8. Open Source Technology (2)
  9. Open Data (2)
  10. PC integration (1)

One reason it has taken this long to produce the results is that I should have gone with multiple choice, possibly based on the list of things I expected to see, however I left it free form and the replies were all very different meaning I’ve had to apply a lot of my own reasoning to pull out ten themes from the answers. I tried to pull out the theme from each set of answers, some were short 1 liners and others quite full explanations, and then create some headline titles for each one and I hope i’ve done them justice as some could sit across more than one headline, for better or worse I made a call on each to only be in one though.

The response rate was 30% overall which is pretty positive I think but since I’m not a marketeer I’m not sure, once I grouped the answers I’ve ordered the list by number of responses per headline (the figure in parenthesis).

It’s very interesting to see that Improve the basics is overwhelmingly at the top, what strikes me is that there is a lot of talk on Voice2.0, Fixed Mobile convergence, the rise of VoIP, minutes arbitrage and how telephony in general needs to evolve and yet the two most desired things are effectively:

improve the basics (and make it work better)

Make “voice” superb first before adopting high-capacity services such as mobile video

Improved usability of basic telephony and messaging functions (eg. Voicemail)

Don’t compete with other carriers on cell towers. Work together to give me the best reception everywhere, regardless of who owns which spot on a tower. It’s silly to be in places where on carrier’s phone works, and another doesn’t.

Transparent (clear consistent) pricing

Much cheaper international roaming (fair prices please)

The cost to transport a call internationally is almost never more than a few cents. Stop ripping customers off on international calls. They’ll start using you instead of Skype.

Treat me as an important person – for example I expect my operator to know who my friends are and offer a discounted rate to calling my friends. And offer me some discounts/thank yous etc, because I pay a lot of money on mobile phone bills each month

The general ‘tone’ of the replies leads me to believe that the majority are quite happy to pay a reasonable cost for the basics as long as they are done well and that the rise in alternatives we see now are simply because people are finding ways around the problems they have with Telcos.

When it comes to service development the more open a Telco is the more people will develop against and drive innovation, the lack of openness we have now is closing the door to many opportunities and ultimately causing a more complex telephony landscape than there really needs to be, a service developed against the core rather than routed around it is usually a better experience after all.

I don’t want to make this post much longer so will leave this as a here are the results type post but one last point is that the majority of people that replied are from the USA and several of the things they wanted already exist in the European market, or at least from my knowledge of Orange, hopefully many of the things that don’t currently exist will come about next year across all Telcos, evidence is there already with the launch of Xseries by 3 and I’m sure more will follow soon.

In closing many thanks to all those that responded and I hope you find this post useful

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24 comments so far

  1. Sam Critchley on

    I actually think we’ve got the basics in place now, but here are my personal choices:

    1. More IP-only broadband without a whole boatload of mail etc on top
    2. Flat-rate data pricing
    3. Remove mobile data roaming charges
    4. Remove walled garden mobile content
    5. Open location API

    Thanks, Sam

  2. Nick on

    I agree with many of the wishes above, and would add this one: don’t lock me into a contract for 2 years. If you keep me happy — by pricing transparently, embracing the Internet, offering flat-rate data, etc. — I will voluntarily remain a customer for much longer.

    Two-year contracts that renew for another year if they are not canceled by registered mail at least four months before the end of the term are a recipe for pissing your customers off. Keep your customers happy, and you won’t need these mafia methods.

  3. […] James Enck wrote earlier today: I really had a great time putting together the 10 Things presentation from last month’s Telco 2.0 event, but these things are really only meaningful if they stimulate some thought, discussion, and a basis for moving forward. So I’m really . . . . Ian Hay, who has a real job within a genuine EuroTelco, has taken the concept as a point of departure for a survey trying to get at something more constructive. I’m still absorbing his post, but one thing that leaps out from the list immediately is that the word “open” appears in four out of ten items on the wish list. [snip] […]

  4. Joseph Hess on

    Remember “Dumb Ass Thinking”: The Telco way is like ‘eco’ but only in that it takes a lot more time to do the same thing and end up with the same (or often worse) results AND it’s not any more economical, in fact it wastes more resource than any other cycle, to use Kevins quote from someone that has experienced this over and over again:

    Just an aside, my company is getting so much off-deck interest now with a free/ad-supported model, that operators are no longer becoming important to us. The long sales cycles, the ridiculous rules, and the constant turn-over has really changed our BD focus moving forward.

    My comment or question, admitting that I’m in a jungle, dressed as a tourist, is:
    How about caring less about an ad-supported model but imagining a model where the “user”, who should actually be called “customer” customizes somehow what he/she wants to “see” or rather “tolerates to interfere with what he or she really wants to see”? Imagine the same non-sense spreading on your 2 inch “Telco” screen” as you suffer watching on your PC screen if all you want to do is “read” a particular on-line news of any e-newscast. Do you really want all the “song & dance”? all the time?
    Best regards to thinking people

  5. […] Ian Hay, who works for Orange in the UK, has an interesting post entitled “Ten Things I Want from You,” about customers’ mobile telephony needs.  Here’s mine: […]

  6. Dave Gale on

    Informative post Ian – kudos.

    I handle busdev for an “alternative” telco (for want of a better term – we mashed together an ISP and an LCR company and focus on VoIP for corporates) in a freshly deregulated market (South Africa). Just recently I urged one of our Product Dev guys to ensure we concentrate on the basics of a new product rather than too many bells and whistles. In my experience, 80% to 90% of customers tend to use 10% to 20% of features once they’ve bought a service, whether it is PBX, mobile phone or a word processor! Some times bells and whistles close a deal unfortunately.

    So I find your results interesting indeed, but what exactly do you mean by “transparent pricing” – is it that there are no hidden costs and you’re completely upfront at the sale? We’ve had a lot of success by including “we’re a no-BS ISP” in our brand. KISS is extended to product, pricing and packaging as much as possible.

    Would you be prepared to share more of your results?

  7. antonio del corral on

    hello Ian:

    I have a similar job as yours, but in a 2.000.000 HP new-plant-just-built cable operator in spain. We are launching mobile service as MVNO, following the “full” model.

    Your post (great, excellent, and clever by the way) must be just the begin of a coherent and colaborative efforts into making our industry different from today…I suggest to dedicate the full blog or to create another one to just this issue, point by point, on fixed service, mobile service and content&application services.

    we can compete every day, but into making our industry different with new ideas, perhaps we can survive by bringing back value to networks

  8. Kevin Perkins on

    Glad to see others putting the “basics” at the top. This is a good dialog; I hope the folks at Orange take your research and start simplifying things even further.

  9. Phine on

    I tend to agree with some of Dave Gale’s requests:
    Concentrate on the basics of a new product rather than too many bells and whistles…..80% to 90% of customers tend to use 10% to 20% of features once they’ve bought a service.. I’m one of them.
    I always suspected “transparent pricing” to be a hoax, but I know that I’m an old cynic.
    “we’re a no-BS ISP” is a dream come through, but what passes as no-BS ISP?

  10. […] More: Ian Hay is right on this. […]

  11. Telco 2.0 on

    Ten things to hate about Internet services

    This is a jointly edited guest post by the Telco 2.0 team and Keith McMahon, who writes incisive insights over at Telebusillis. Keith strongly feels that network operators are not putting up nearly as good a fight as they could…

  12. Nudecybot on

    Egads, I can’t imagine transparent or fair pricing. I get gouged monthly either via underuse or overuse. The worst part is I can only change my plan for the coming month and I generally cannot predict how my usage will fluctuate.

    I would estimate that I spend 2-3 times what I would if I could have a dynamically adjusting plan (pay for the package which best suits the kind of month you have).

    Cell phone plans are usurious and their huge profits won’t be sustainable in a competetive market.

  13. Norman Lewis on

    How about a DELL for mobile phones? Why can’t I order my mobile personalised and preconfigured in terms of hardware (size of memory, camera or not, media player etc) and applications (open browser, calendar, email etc). And going even further, why not a persoanl tariif service on top of this. The operator tracks my usage initially over three months and then based on this real usage, suggests the best tariff for me? Utopian? Hell yes, but why not? Customers would not churn from such a service…

  14. […] Link: Ten Things I Want From You « Tech Evolution In A Wirefree World […]

  15. […] Ten Things I Want From You « Tech Evolution In A Wirefree World Nov 21, 2006 blog post on what is wrong with (and needed in) wireless telcos (tags: wireless) Bookmark to: […]

  16. […] There are other analyses of the Internet’s woes, and other prescriptions on how to fix them. In any case, the message to the telco world is straightforward — the Internet world is far from perfect. Instead of thinking of embracing it or surrendering to it, use your own strengths to develop services which improve on the flaws of the current Internet world and solve real user needs. […]

  17. […] En momentos como estos siempre es interesante consultar las opiniones de los “gurus”. Hace poco leí el artículo Ten Things I want from you, el que escribe es Ian Hay, asesor estratégico de Orange. Se trata de las conclusiones que sacó el autor basadas en encuestas que realizó a gente relacionada con la tecnología. Estas encuestan responden a la pregunta ¿Que es lo que esperas de las operadoras de telefonía móvil y de los teléfonos móviles? […]

  18. GoBloggit on

    Ten Things I Want From You

    Open-source products tend to be driven by what features the user base is actually asking for vs. those being determined by a commercial software company’s profit motives. Another open-source advantage is freedom from vendor dependency, the seemi…

  19. […] feed items on my reading list, all talking about the same thing, mobile phone. Which brought me to Ian Hay’s top ten list of what people want from his/her mobile […]

  20. JesseNewst on

    I wonder , were to find boyfriend to my sister? Joke:)
    My online friends propose this link to use -TOP10 – As for me, I think life is now!!!

  21. […] Link: Ten Things I Want From You « Tech Evolution In A Wirefree World […]

  22. parkpost on

    I agree that we should be able to speak our desires on VoIP and other things which are already saving people a lot of money. Thanks for the post.

  23. Jacob Stacy on

    I do trust all the ideas you have introduced to your post. They are really convincing and can definitely work. Nonetheless, the posts are very short for starters. Could you please lengthen them a little from subsequent time? Thank you for the post.


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