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VEON: Telcos must evolve or die as customers demand simplicity

Telcos and network operators need to simplify their tariffs and sharpen their focus on customer satisfaction if they are to remain profitable in increasingly difficult market conditions, according to VEON ‘s executive vice president for digital content, Nicholas Wodtke. “I think you are going to see simplification of tariffs across the mobile sector…

Telcos and network operators need to simplify their tariffs and sharpen their focus on customer satisfaction if they are to remain profitable in increasingly difficult market conditions, according to VEON ‘s executive vice president for digital content, Nicholas Wodtke.

“I think you are going to see simplification of tariffs across the mobile sector. Customers are going to start demanding more simplified options. Telcos that fight this trend and continue to create commercial confusion are going to be punished,” he told Total Telecom in an exclusive interview this week.

In addition to simplifying their tariffs, telcos will need to provide a new generation of content to engage their customers. But creating brand loyalty in a market where the consumer holds most, if not all, of the cards, is no mean feat. VEON is pioneering a number of consumer facing initiatives, including the provision of unlimited data on its chat platform, in an attempt to win that particular battle.   

“Customers want simplicity, they want to know how much they are paying and they want to make one payment for their entire service,” added Wodtke.

Increasingly, telcos are being forced to redefine their unique selling point, in a bid to secure the next generation of loyal customers. Generating and providing unique and niche content is one way for them to achieve that goal. VEON has recently introduced an entire division to take care of this goal.

“We are building a media division and a creative division within a telecommunications firm. Historically, telcos have not been particularly front leaning in terms of knowing how to deal with content.”

VEON ‘s media division has identified short form, “snackable” content, as the way forward. The company hopes that utilising short videos and articles with a strong local focus, will help it engage more deeply with its customers around the world.

“We are always looking for ways to create a meaningful dialogue with our customers,” said Kim de Ruiter, global director of content marketing at VEON.

The company currently works with 120 content partners around the world, 80% of whom are based locally in the markets they serve.

“From our point of view, we are operating with a very specific local lens – figuring out how to work closer with content providers, channels, businesses – that gives us a kind of hyper local focus. The bigger companies, like Netflix, Amazon and Facebook don’t have the resources to figure out what is going to work in Georgia or The Ukraine, for example,” he added. 

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