By John Davis, Manager Director at BCSG

The time has come for telcos to take the step towards becoming providers of cloud-based applications and services to their business customers.

With the emergence of cloud technology and the benefits it brings businesses, allowing them to work anywhere from any device that has an internet connection, telcos can become providers of the full connectivity solution.

At a time when core revenues are under threat, cloud applications and services are an opportunity for diversification.

However, once the decision has been made, how should telcos deliver cloud applications to their customers? Here are some of the key things to consider before launching cloud-based applications to ensure their success.

How packaging can add to more than the sum of the parts

The device, the connection and the applications are now becoming so intertwined that it feels natural to purchase them together rather than as separate entities.

The opportunity now exists for telcos to extend their relationship with small business customers, who are increasingly using cloud services to work more effectively, by packaging them together into one solution.  

A recent Amdocs survey of 1,311 such businesses around the world found that 74 percent would prefer to receive these services from one of their primary providers, rendering packages even more important.

With the demand clearly already present, what are the benefits you, as a telco, might see from packaging cloud applications with your core products or services?

  1. You’ll be able to create one clear proposition for your services, products and processes, rather than a few competing (and confusing) ones. This will enable you to present your offering in one straightforward conversation.
  2. It presents a far more coherent experience of your brand and a more integrated journey for your customers.
  3. If you create your package according to customer needs, you will have a compelling reason to engage interest. Then by bringing everything together in one monthly charge you’re providing ease of use as well. At Cloud Forum this year, Telefonica and Bouygues Telecom both talked about how bundles with cloud services have noticeably increased product penetration.
  4. Adding discounts into the equation tends to drive even stronger adoption of cloud services. This is a win for your customers since it saves them money, but also for you since it brings in more revenue.
  5. Because cloud services often depend on data input and deliver everyday support, you’re also likely to build more lasting relationships, which means a longer average customer lifetime.

Packaging cloud applications can also create a need for your other services. Take 4G: using cloud applications, like web conferencing or file access to documents in the cloud, is a way of creating a need for a faster connection, and it needn’t stop there.

How about business in a box? This could be the ultimate bundle of a laptop, mobile, connection via 4G and broadband, Office 365 and a few other apps. Bring them all together in one monthly cost with a reasonable amount of discount and you’ve got the ultimate small business starter pack, with support built in.

Make the most of every interaction with your customers

Small businesses are now ready to turn to large brands for cloud applications that will help them run their business. When a new proposition is launched for the first time, telcos must work hard to educate their customers that this is something that they offer, the reasoning behind the offer and why it makes sense to purchase the applications through them.

SMBs are often looking for guidance. This presents telcos with a prime opportunity to become a trusted cloud partner and build stronger relationships with their SMB customers.

It is not good enough to think that just because you offer it, customers will buy into it. Telcos have many points of contact with their customers and it’s important that these interactions are used to raise awareness of their cloud application proposition at each opportunity.

By placing messages at appropriate times across each channel throughout the purchase journey, telcos can increase the exposure of the proposition. In addition it ensures that the applications feel like a natural extension to any customer purchase decision.

Take your sales staff on the journey

To ensure your customers see you as a genuine partner for cloud applications, your front line staff will need to come across as specialists in the field.

However, if your sales force love talking about handsets and getting the latest gear, getting them on board with cloud services will be a challenge. The key is making sure they understand it.

Look for the staff who want to develop their career and build deeper relationships with customers. What’s more, you should factor in regular training and roadshows. The more your staff know what your customers are going through, the more they’ll know how to pitch your products.

As has often been said, change doesn’t happen overnight. It’s important to be realistic about your expectations and recognise that you’re taking steps along the way.

Talk about the progress you’re making and share the little wins that make it worthwhile. That way you should take your staff with you.

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