A joint Telecom Asia-Stratecast Partners survey of operators across Asia Pacific found a much higher focus on service quality than a year ago, with 60% more of the respondents indicating quality as a high priority for 2009.
Prakash Sadagopan, director of product strategy for Convergys, attributes the shift to a renewed emphasis on getting back to basics and being able to deliver quality service across their ever increasing portfolio of services in a more cost effective way.
More than two-thirds of Asia-Pacific operators said service quality was one of their most important OSS/BSS initiatives - that up 26 percentage points from last year\'s results when new services ranked as the top initiative (see chart).
Services quality has moved to the top in part because consumers have more competitive alternatives and the services offered are more complex.
In a frank assessment of 3G services when it announced its all-IP HSPA+ network in Hong Kong last month, CSL CEO Tarek Robbiati said the mobile industry had failed to deliver with 3G.
\'3G over-promised and under-delivered. It was a voice-centric network with erratic coverage and poor speeds,\' he said. \'Operators under-invested in the network and offered a poor customer experience, which users accepted because it was cheap.\'
The quality of the complex services operators offer will continue to be a key differentiator, said Karl Whitelock, a senior consulting analysts with Stratecast, a division of Frost & Sullivan.
He noted that this is especially true due to the rising level of applications available from Web 2.0 platforms, such as Ovi, Android and iTunes, combined with simple service capabilities such as IM and VoIP.
The annual online survey was conducted in February and March and received 174 responses from operators. More than 29% said they were wireless operators, 23% integrated telcos and 13% wireline service providers. Almost 50% were from operators with fewer than one million subs, 28% had 1-10 million subs, 13% had 10-50 million and 8% had more than 50 million.
Network upgrades/convergence ranked as the No. 2 OSS/BSS priority, with 52% of those surveyed saying it was important, moving up from the No. 3 position a year ago. New services fell to No. 3, but received a higher response - 52% said it was a high priority compared to 46% in 2008.
Just over a quarter said triple- and quad-play bundles and OSS platform upgrades were a major initiative.
This year\'s results showed a major shift forward in gaining insight into the customer\'s experience of the services they use. From only one-third of respondents last indicating they had a customer experience management (CEM) program the number jumped to 59%.
This is a reflection of the continued emphasis on customer service quality as a significant part of operators\' business strategy. It comes as no surprise that the customer care and sales/marketing teams are primary leaders of CEM programs (see chart). This is consistent with last year. One sharp change is that the number saying product management leads this function dropped from 20% to 8%.