Time to move on
I recently decided to change my broadband supplier and its poor home wifi router. My broadband is FTTC over Openreach’s UK access infrastructure. Vodafone, my new supplier, would use Openreach too. So this should have meant a simple switch using the same copper, VDSL router and fibre back to the exchange. The change should have required electronic configuration in the Openreach exchange to route me to the Vodafone network rather than my existing supplier.
Instead, the cutover was the most disjointed and manual process imaginable. I was left without broadband for three days. My working from home was effectively stopped. A week later I am still awaiting full broadband and am using a temporary Mobile WiFi router. As someone who works in telecoms it was hard enough to navigate this. I can only imagine what the average customer would face.
Not a foundation for agility and innovation
My story raises a question mark on the current ability of CSPs to deliver new dynamic services. If CSPs cannot achieve basic connectivity changes, what chance do they have of delivering services that are online, dynamic, temporary and involve third parties. Technologies, like network slicing, will allow CSPs to innovate all sorts of exciting services. However, they are unlikely to succeed bolted on to an OSS and BSS environment designed for a different era. Success will mean changing and upgrading systems. It also requires significant operational change and most importantly business/commercial change.
My experience highlights this need for business change. When Vodafone discovered that Openreach could not cutover service for 8 days, they could have proactively offered a temporary mobile broadband solution. If they had, I’d have walked away from this understanding they had a supplier problem and feeling happy that they had my back.
Instead obtaining temporary mobile broadband involved me:
- making four customer care calls; all with the need for the agent to escalate and seek approval from management
- chasing promised ring backs that never occurred
- demanding an alternative broadband solution (the default would have been no broadband for 8 days)
- requesting a device for the mobile broadband SIM to be installed into (surprisingly my phone was being used as my phone)
- escalating when the mobile data limit of 2GB per month was reached after two hours of home broadband usage
- paying up front for a mobile broadband contract, with subsequent discount against my wireline broadband contract
As a customer, I have had poor customer experience (though extremely competent and polite call centre agents). I have wasted over a day in diagnosing the problem and in calls with Vodafone to fix things. An Openreach problem is now seen by me as a Vodafone problem.
Counting the full cost
As an analyst, I can see that the customer care processes are not fit for purpose in today’s online world:
- processes are still defined by a time where mobile minutes and phones/devices were extremely valuable and needed tight management control. Today the costs of devices and network usage are marginal compared to other costs. I paid £50 for a mobile device and a month of mobile Broadband, but the real cost to Vodafone is much lower. In contrast, 3-4 hours of call centre agent (and management) time cost about £50. And that is without my time being factored in.
- products are still separated into a distinct broadband/wireline and mobile/wireless businesses. An online business would appear as a single business. One that offers mobile broadband as an optional component of a wireline broadband package that can be activated when there are problems. Even better there would be a SIM card in the broadband router.
- the interactions with critical third parties, like Openreach, are disjointed and largely manual.
Appledore look at the changes of approach in OSS/BSS CSPs need to make to support new networks and services in OSS Sea Change. We will also be looking at the need for utility telco in future research and how this can be profitable.