It is widely recognised that enterprise represents one of the most important areas of focus for European operators looking for growth.

Stephan Baumann, VP of customer process management at Deutsche Telekom, told a summit at TM Forum Management World in Dublin on Tuesday that “the party’s over” for operators in saturated consumer markets.

Instead, Baumann believes there is a real opportunity for operators to find growth in the enterprise space.

To ensure success, the VP is focused on a subject – improving the customer experience that businesses receive – that has garnered little attention in the wider CEM debate that has focused almost exclusively on consumers.

“Enterpise CEM has, up to now, been characterised by a very basic, unsophisticated and disjointed service,” Peter Briscoe, executive director of innovation at Telcordia, told European Communications.

David Heaps, SVP of corporate strategy at CSG International, agrees: “Enterprise CEM has lagged behind retail for some time. Generally, business customers have had a poorer choice and a poorer service,” he said.

Typically, serving enterprises has revolved around the provision of a specific, narrow service but it is now broadening in scope, according to Briscoe.

“Operators need to provide an end-to-end service from the handset to the cloud, increase customer care at the front end and look to offer new services,” added Briscoe.

For Baumann, who has spent two years implementing a common enterprise CRM platform across four European countries as DT attempts to improve its service to SMEs, it is critical that operators understand the needs of enterprise.

“They want increased mobility and more flexibility – such as different tariffs – at reduced costs,” he said.

Consequently, there are many different touch points that operators need to consider.

Alastair Hanlon, VP of market strategy at Amdocs, told European Communications that considerations need to start with the buyers of an enterprise telco service.

“In retail the buyer and the end user are the same person, but with enterprises the buying group is very different from the user group – the former will be more concerned with cost while the latter will be focused on the service,” he said.

CSG’s Heaps says the differences continue beyond the buyers: “Conceptually the enterprise market is different – loyalty is less and the more flexibility you can offer the better.”

For Hanlon, pricing is a key area: “Developing more sophisticated price plans are a must to serve what can be big, complex customer hierarchies,” he said.

Security is another important focus for enterprise customers.

“Best effort is not good enough,” said Briscoe, who believes that while the access security that operators currently provide is good, data security is not so good.

A consistent quality of experience is equally important, but increasingly challenging.

Said Briscoe: “QoE used to be about looking after offices, but with the advent of BYOD and increased mobility, it’s extended to people’s homes too.”

Although enterprises do have some specific functionality from a technology perspective, all are in agreement that new suites of solutions are not required from the vendor side.

“It’s more about rebranding, simplifying and reconfiguring existing products,” said Briscoe.

Instead, it’s more of a change in mindset and business model at operators that is required.

Said Baumann: “Ultimately, DT is transforming from a telco into an ICT.”

Heaps warns that operators should look to reduce their reliance on resellers and reclaim the primary relationships with their enterprise customers.

This is particularly important because, despite being cost conscious – particularly in the current environment – most agree that enterprises will pay a premium for mission critical services, regardless of their size.

Hanlon suggests gold, silver, bronze pricing models will be one of the key differentiators for operators.

Baumann warns that getting enterprise CEM right is not an easy exercise.

“The complexity of approach we have taken, not owning all our companies outright and finding the right people to manage it have been the main challenges,” he said.

However, he said the rewards are clear: reduced churn, a faster time to market, opex and capex savings and fewer customer requests.

That could be worth having a party about.

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