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Retaining and Nurturing Corporate Contracts is Essential as Mobile Markets Mature
Many mobile service providers are failing to capitalise on potentially lucrative corporate contracts because they don’t focus enough on client’s business needs, according to Gartner. Service providers that don’t update their sales strategies to provide tailored solutions to businesses risk losing valuable corporate customers and becoming chiefly consumer players, analysts warned.
“These continue to be very competitive times for mobile service providers with the market near saturation point in many regions,” said Martin Gutberlet, research vice-president at Gartner. “To compete efficiently in this challenging landscape, mobile service providers need to find new ways to improve customer loyalty and retention and this must include corporate contracts. Our research shows that many service providers are not currently doing enough to retain corporate clients in the long-term.”
Many mobile service providers would argue that they already have a dedicated corporate sales force that focuses on business requirements, but Gartner has found that for the most part, providers are not fulfilling these needs. Instead, the focus is on selling SIM cards with complex, non-transparent pricing schemes and giving discounts related to total spending, rather than delivering individual, tailored services.
“The mere existence of a business sales force does not necessarily mean that mobile service providers are approaching an organisation’s sourcing needs and priorities in the most appropriate way,” said Mr Gutberlet. “Admittedly, this may not lead to huge amounts of extra revenue for the service provider, but the aim here should be to retain and nurture market share in a sector where customer needs are becoming mature and sophisticated.”
According to Gartner, large organisations have four main priorities when buying mobile services: managing costs, managing services, dealing with increased mobile data services and centralising resources. Only service providers that meet these demands by addressing the contractual, commercial, services and solutions needs of large companies will retain corporate contracts in the long-term.
“When it comes to managing costs, service providers need to simplify contracts and pricing structures to offer features such as flat fees and free voice-mail access and notification,” said Mr Gutberlet. “Organisations also want to see transparent reporting that allows them to track total cost of ownership and monitor individual use of mobile service.”
Managing mobile services is becoming increasingly important to businesses that require different user profiles such as ‘international traveller’ or ‘domestic high data user’. Service level agreements (SLAs) with defined key performance indicators to measure the quality of help desks etc, as well as monitoring the performance of wireless email, are also growing in significance. Device management services are becoming more widespread with over-the-air disabling of lost or stolen handsets via a Web portal a key feature for corporate customers.
Organisations are also looking to service providers to deal with the increased use of mobile data services and provide solutions that extend remote access for mobile workers, such as the ones offered by Orange and iPass.
Mr Gutberlet said that the trend towards greater centralisation of procurement means that increasingly mobile service providers should internationalise contracts and offer the option of a single contract rather than multiple contracts or frame agreements where possible. “Service providers can add significant value if they can give multinational companies a single commercial agreement that is valid in many countries,” he advised. ‘However, the multinational market is highly competitive and very few providers are able to aggregate services on a truly international level.”
Gartner recommends that service providers focus on providing large organisations with a single point of contact for contract negotiations, management and solution issues, and recommends the use of Web-based procurement portals to include handset orders, installation and online order tracking, as well as multichannel support by phone, e-mail and fax.
“Service providers need to get wise to the value of corporate contracts both big and small,” Mr Gutberlet concluded. “For large organisations with high international demand this might mean that a full-time, dedicated team is required to really fulfil their business needs and retain valuable corporate market share in the long-term.”
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