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Articulating Customer Value: The Value Statement Must Be Table Stakes for Telcos

By: Adhish Kulkarni

Over the past 20 years, telecoms operators have played a key role in enabling the digital advertising and marketing industries, providing channels and connectivity through which brands have become able to reach their customers anytime and anywhere. This shift has created hundreds of billions of dollars of marketing real estate. Yet, despite their role, telcos themselves haven’t been able to truly maximize their own marketing investments through the channels they own, even though their customers are reachable from their first connected minute.

While there are many reasons for this, for now I want to focus on the sheer volume and frequency of the marketing messaging that inundates customers—as often as hourly in some markets—yet remains sadly ineffective. In many cases, telcos themselves are the culprits. In a hyper-competitive environment, CSPs (communications services providers) are forced to react to market conditions with new promotions on a daily basis. Our research suggests that their customers simply don’t remember all the offers and benefits available to them. Add to this the many other messages that customers are exposed to across email, app and SMS channels, and it is little wonder that marketing’s response rates continue to drop.


An increasingly diverse range of products and services, often reaching beyond the scope of core telco offerings, have become the bedrock of differentiation. Simply put, there is more to sell. As prices drop and customers focus on value for money—for instance, on how much data they get for every dollar spent—CSPs, particularly those operating in the premium space, are increasingly reliant on marketing to articulate what they offer in the most effective way possible, and deliver it in a personalised way to the customers who are most likely to respond. When they struggle to do this effectively, telcos are forced to give away a lot of value in terms of additional services, free offers, discounts and more in order to compensate while still carrying the risk of being easily imitated by competitors.

In simple terms, to justify their prices and differentiate themselves from the competition, telcos have recently been taking the approach of providing added value to their customers to secure competitive advantage. Given that Net Promoter Scores in the telecom sector are some of the lowest across all industries, it’s not hard to see how and why increasing ‘value perception’ within the customer base has become so central to success.

Despite this scenario in which marketing becomes a focal point, telco marketing departments continue to struggle. In relative terms, though pressure is high, investment in enabling innovation remains relatively low.

This is ironic, given that improving NPS through effective communication of value provided to customers should now be table stakes for any telco that wants to improve its competitive status.



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