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October 22, 2008

Next-Generation Services: Reaching Consumers Tomorrow

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Senior Editor

Service providers are often challenged to succeed in a very competitive market, and the current economic climate isn’t making this any easier. As established in part two of this articles series, reaching customers in the short run isn’t that complicated: price and features are usually sufficient… at least for a while.
But, what does it take to reduce customer churn, to retain clients over the longer term? Competing on price alone isn’t a winning strategy, as eventually this downward-spiraling game leads to problems. Features and customer service, on the other hand, can be part of a long-term success strategy. To optimize these opportunities, of course, it is necessary to take a long-term view. This means a combination of continuing to offer “tried and true” solutions, and being proactive about adopting and developing new technologies.
A strategy for successfully reaching consumers “tomorrow” can be broken down into six components, outlined below.
Cost savings and efficiency. Customers want services that are not only affordable in the sense of having a reasonable price-tag (News - Alert), but are also affordable in that they’re efficient to set up and use. By choosing the right technologies, service providers can offer both these benefits, while also reducing their own operating costs.
Support. Quite simply, excellent customer service often means the difference between keeping a client or losing one. It does take resources, of course, to offer exceptional customer service, but it’s worth it. And again, with the right technologies it is possible to minimize the cost of support.
Simplicity. As noted already, customers want services that are simple. This does not mean services with few features, or features that are too “basic” to be of real use. It does means services that might be complex under the hood, but from the customer perspective are easy to use.
Control and flexibility. More consumers now expect that the services they subscribe to will offer some capabilities for customization. They seek interfaces with controls, and services that can be flexibly modified based on individual needs. By choosing technologies that are modular in nature, service providers can offer control and flexibility without reinventing the wheel every time.
Freedom and empowerment. Consumers want the freedom to use services in the way that is most useful to themselves. They want to be empowered to choose features options, and not be constrained in the way they use those options. Service providers wishing to retain customers over the long term need to keep this in mind.
Personalization. Finally, as already noted, consumers are increasingly seeking personalized services. They don’t want cookie-cutter products; they want to  differentiate themselves and have their unique needs met. Service providers need to choose technologies that enable personalization without consuming too many resources.
By keeping these six points in mind, service providers can succeed in their quest to win and keep customers, not just now but tomorrow and the day after and the day after that… To learn more, please visit the SIP Server channel on, brought to you by IVR Technologies (News - Alert).
The final part of this article series will discuss opportunities for boosting revenues by offering next-generation services.

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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"As Canada's leading wholesale provider of VoIP infrastructure to tier 1 telecommunications companies throughout the world, we continue to make investments in IVR Technologies and their products based not only on the product's growing value proposition with each new release but most importantly their outstanding customer service."
- Stephen Mundy, President, KBT Systems Corp.

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