commentary Most people would agree knowing your customers well is crucial to operating any business. That's why Telecom New Zealand's comments yesterday to your writer that "increasingly, the needs of small businesses and consumer customers are really one and the same" came as a shock.
commentary Most people would agree knowing your customers well is crucial to
operating any business. That's why Telecom New Zealand's comments yesterday to your
writer that "increasingly, the needs of small businesses and
consumer customers are really one and the same" came as a
The words were uttered by spokesperson Phillip King in the
wake of Telecom's announcement it would jettison the CEO of its
subsidiary, AAPT, and restructure the business along customer
While King's comments are probably not representative of the
research AAPT has done into its customer base, AAPT will
nonetheless go forth in two divisions -- consumer/small business
and large enterprise.
In some ways, putting consumers and small businesses in the
same basket makes sense for major telcos.
There are large numbers of each type of customer, and in some
cases they need similar services -- for example DSL
However that's where the similarity ends.
"Businesses and consumers are two different groups," Shara
Evans told your writer following King's comments. "I'd be very
upset if people started to treat my business as a residential
The telecommunications analyst is an industry veteran and
chief executive of her own firm, Market Clarity.
"I don't know of any residential customers, for instance, that
have requirements for PABX-type functionality," she
"A small to medium enterprise goes up to an organisation that
has up to 200 staff."
"Next to the likes of Westpac, 200 sounds very, very tiny, but
200 people is a lot of people, and you're not going to be buying
residential phone services to cater for, let's say 200 people
split over two buildings."
"They're just completely different product sets," Evans said,
pointing out that even for DSL services, businesses would be more
likely to need a service with symmetrical upload and download
speeds, as opposed to the asymmetric services commonly sold to
But while it's important to know your customers intimately, it
can also be dangerous to go too far the other way.
"I do not want my telco, or any other business provider to
know any more about me than what services I use from them and
when I use them," wrote one disgruntled reader this week in
a ZDNet Australia article on how much telcos know about their
"There are already enough advertising channels to ram new
products down my throat -- I don't need to be asked if I'd like
to 'super size' my McTelstra meal everytime I call to ask a
question about billing," the reader continued.
Keeping these two extremes in mind, it's clear that the best
path to tread is -- as generally in life -- straight down the
The key for telcos is to know who exactly their customers are,
and to use that information sensibly, without trying to upsell
services customers simply aren't interested in.
What do you think about your own telco? Do they know your
needs well, or are they trying to ram new products down your
throat? Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.