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11/19/2007

Commoditizing Themselves

Imag0016 The telcos are nothing if not consistently self-destructive. Imagine the luxury of having 60 million subscribers without any real alternative to your service. It's easy to think that in the day-to-day grind of watching the money roll in, one might forget that those people dealing with your call center or waiting in Soviet-era lines in your retail stores did not actually work for you but were your customers.

This evening I accompanied my wife on a trip to the Verizon Wireless store near our house. Her situation will be familiar to anyone who has done business with an American wireless provider: broken handset, 6 months left on contract. Its not a powerful position to find oneself in. Granted, she spends $100/month on service with Verizon, but this is clearly not enough of an incentive for the company or its well-staffed 6,000 sq ft suburban NY store to be able to help her within 40 minutes of our arrival and registration.

As I recently wrote, the telcos are on the brink of a self-inflicted brand crisis. They spend billions of dollars a year on ads pushing the commodity features of their networks (AT&T, reach; Verizon, call quality; Sprint, speed) while letting their brand bleed out in everyday interactions with existing and prospective customers.

November 19, 2007 in Telecom | Permalink

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