Frontier operates in a market that tends to focus on ‘faster’ and ‘cheaper’. We don’t hear that much about ‘better’ and we never hear about “great” or “obsessive” in context to the customer experience.
If you come up from the sales channel (check) and spend a ton of time in-front of customers (as I type this I am flying to Edmonton to meet one of our clients) you tend to observe the same thing…. Focus on customer service and business will follow.
Frontier has been part of a few exciting projects in the past, many very, very large. The larger the transaction, we will note the emphasis swings from ‘price’ to ‘performance metrics’. Words like ‘trust’ and ‘urgency’ prevail over price and discount.
During my early days as President of Frontier, I had a chance, for a moment, to forget about faster or cheaper (which we have, and we are) but rather, to rethink the most basic relationship in business: the one between us and our customers.
Here is what I am happy to be hearing:
- It’s awfully convenient to buy services from Frontier….
- The support tools and interaction is better than anything I have ever seen from any provider…
- You guys take us seriously…
What I want to hear more and more:
- I trust Frontier….
- I have a problem and I wonder if you can help….
If you have a choice of losing your mouth or your ears… pick your mouth
Few companies understand the power of the Customer Experience. Most providers have monitoring tools and basic reporting…. But we know that the marketplace is looking for more specific proactive monitoring and problem mitigation. I call this ‘listening’ We can listen to our designed networks in many ways:
- Listen to what the client would like / vs. what you have to offer (this will always separate the boutique from the ‘meat’ shops out there (my term for the large providers).
- Communicate – more with the goal of listening more. I have sat through many meetings, often our own, where I watch members of my team dominate a conversation… I inevitably give the same advise after every meeting – ‘listen more, talk less’. It is hard to do. It is a bit counter intuitive will all that neat expensive sales training out there and pre-scripted power points we pollute the world with. Listening is an active skill, we are good at it. We want to hear what our client base wants and needs.
- Be prepared to be inspired. It is never a surprise to me to note that every product innovation, whether it be a feature in software, a new product, or an entire acquisition is typically based on a communicated need by a client. Something like… I with ‘Frontier’ or ‘someone’ did the following… Our voice offering is one of these innovations. Plenty of people and companies offer voice services, very few do it well, almost none of them have bothered to ‘inspire’. I see more and more selling hosted voice (now relabeled as cloud) on a per user basis. I still see equipment manufacturers, selling IP Telephony seats at between $ 600 – 1000 per user plus super massive annual maintenance fees. Here is one area that we have really listened to our customers and merged the native ability of our own CLEC status with our huge volume of minutes and existing ports and created a truly unique offering. We did not actually come up with this, we were talked into it my a handful of existing clients who asked us for help.
We enjoyed this perspective as we apply it to our market which is dominated by traditional super large telco providers.
Jeffrey F. Rayport, a professor at Harvard Business School based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “You have to differentiate yourself by how you sell — by the experiences that you create around finding, trying, and purchasing“. In the actual world, providing a bad experience is damaging. But people will keep going to the same supermarket, because it’s on the way home.
You can imagine how we replaced the word ‘supermarket’ with ‘Phone Company’. You can also imagine how hard it is for the big guys to adopt a philosophy of being a boutique or customer ‘intimate’ organization. we often use the example of a large competitor annual sales kick off. The one session that you will never see advertised is the VP of Sales and CEO standing in front of their sales team encouraging them to meet all their customers over the next few months to meet, look at old billing and price plans and genuinely save their clients’ money. It just does not happen, it is bad for business. And mostly it reflects poorly on executive sales management compensation. The idea of rebooking a contract with lower revenue but over a longer term is an idea lost. In their eyes, it is bad for business.
Frontier today operates in an environment where we constantly see an opportunity to reduce our customers overall communication and related data communications annual spend in the range of 20 – 50 percent (used to be 40, we have since adopted 50 percent particularly in our sweet spot of customers with multiple locations who wish to review their voice and data communications strategy). On our website, we toyed with the idea of a savings calculator… and equating the savings to actual tangible purchase items likes, cars, boats, vacations, luxury cottages etc.)
To our clients and prospects that relentlessly pursue cost savings in their organization with the not very selfish goal of increasing profits for their organization or department; we will continue our goal to be your trusted ally.
And to all my friends in sales management, sorry about the whole idea of visiting your entire customer base and proposing a savings to them, and revenue decline to you of 20 percent – 50 percent. It had to be said
About Frontier Networks
Frontier Networks Inc. is headquartered in Toronto, Ontario and provides Broadband Internet or MPLS, Voice lines or Cloud PBX (a replacement to old phone systems), cloud servers , colocation and our new Physical Security offering to Canadian Retail and Multi Site customers who demand world-wide coverage from a ‘new’ network. “We like to do traditional things in a non-traditional way”. Frontier has built a network that connects to other networks. Think of them like a large ‘backbone’ of interconnected networks. They connect to every phone company, cable company, wireless and hydro/utelco in Canada and the US through a series of well-connected Points of Presence (POPs). Simply put ‘we don’t suck’.
See more at: http://www.frontiernetworks.ca/blog