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October 08, 2008

Next-Generation Services: Reaching Consumers Today

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor


It’s a fact: staying successful in the very competitive next-generation service provider market is a challenge. As established in part one of this article series, price can be a way to attract and retain customers, but over the long run it’s not a sustainable differentiator. So what is? In this article, some techniques for reaching customers today and tomorrow are explored.
 
Reaching customers in the short run isn’t actually that complicated. Price, of course, will attract subscribers, if the provider is able to match or beat its rivals’ offers. Services that work with legacy interfaces and devices, as well as newer devices, are also likely to be popular.
 
Figuring out how to integrate new and old services is one of the keys to success. This isn’t always possible, of course. Some technologies simply don’t co-exist very well. Providers can get creative, though, by combining new and older services with bundled billing plans.
 
Having a varied portfolio of offerings is one of the key trends in today’s next-generation service provider market. This is why many Internet service providers (ISPs) are adding television and phone to their offerings, and why cable TV companies have jumped on board Internet and phone opportunities. Double- or triple-play packages can be appealing to busy subscribers who want the advantage of a unified bill and one provider to contact for support when it’s needed.
 
Ultimately, what today’s customers want first and foremost are services that work the way they’re advertised, and that don’t require a lot of time invested to be useful. This will always be true, but the perception of what services should or ought to do, and what is in fact useful, will of course change.
 
To some extent, change is a generational matter; younger subscribers will have different expectations than older ones, and the challenge for provider will always be how to serve both clienteles without alienating either of them. The key to this lies in maintaining more “familiar” services and systems for as long as they’re reasonably profitable, while at the same time adding new technology to keep pace with changing customer demands.
 
So, those are some of the ways providers can stay successful for the time being. But, of course, long-term success is a proactive rather than reactive process. The next part in this series will answer the question, “How do we do a better job of reaching the consumer tomorrow?”
 
For more about this topic, please check out IVR Technologies’ (News - Alert) two TMCnet.com channels, Billing and SIP Server.
 

Don’t forget to check out TMCnet’s White Paper Library, which provides a selection of in-depth information on relevant topics affecting the IP Communications industry. The library offers white papers, case studies and other documents which are free to registered users.


Mae Kowalke is senior editor for TMCnet, covering VoIP, CRM, call center and wireless technologies. To read more of Mae's articles, please visit her columnist page. She also blogs for TMCnet here.

Edited by Mae Kowalke



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