See No Problems, Fix No Problems
By Carlo Longino, Thu Jul 01 17:30:00 GMT 2004

Managers at British mobile providers say company expansion, rather than improving service, is their top priority this year, even as a third of users say service isn't good enough.

LogicaCMG surveyed upper-level managers at UK operators, MVNOs and service providers, as well as 1000 consumers, and found a stark disconnect between the two. Thirty-five percent of users said they don't feel the service they're getting is "up to scratch", a figure the company says could cost operators GBP 3 billion in churn (unless, of course, they hire LogicaCMG and buy its customer-care and billing software), contrasting with the 86% of managers that said quality of service wasn't their top priority.

Without knowing exactly how the survey questions were phrased, it's hard to indict providers too strongly, but these results, combined with anecdotal evidence, reinforce the widespread belief that most operators only keep their service at "good enough" levels. Operators like to whine about over-regulation and the tough competition in the market, but when all the carriers are providing a minimum level of service, the competitive bar isn't set very high.

There's a fine line they must balance between growing their business by introducing new products, services and applications while improving their current level of quality. It seems that all too often carriers start all their strategic planning with a profit-margin target, then shoehorn everything they do to fit that. It doesn't appear that too many are willing to take the risk of a short-term reduction in profits to improve their network and customer service and offer customers more and better support, a move that would prove far more effective in the long run at winning over customers than undercutting SMS prices by half a cent.

But however carriers approach their strategy, it's increasingly clear that they're often times very out of touch with their end users, leaving plenty of room in the market for craftier, more responsive providers.