Customers value wholesale interaction

OvumGrowing revenues and profits in wholesale telecom markets requires close relationships between suppliers and their customers.
As customers add solutions and value-added services to their traditional transport capacity purchases, they expect wholesale suppliers to understand their businesses and their customers in ways that enable the wholesaler to collaborate on developing customized solutions.
To encourage close working relationships, wholesale telecoms carriers employ a combination of person-to-person and automated customer interfaces.
Ovum’s recently published report Customer Interfaces for Wholesale Intermediaries examines how wholesale suppliers improve their customers’ business efficiency by strategically deploying different types of interfaces — including APIs, portals, extranets, and personnel. Our analysis shows that wholesale carriers use their customer interfaces to win, maintain, and grow their revenues while improving performance.
Person-to-person and automated interfaces serve different needs
Person-to-person interfaces include account teams, network engineers, maintenance teams, and contact centers. Automated interfaces include portals, websites, extranets, and published APIs that enable direct links between OSS/BSS systems. The scale and scope of wholesale transactions as well as the need to accommodate various indirect channels differentiate wholesale portals from their retail counterparts.
Automating transaction-oriented processes (e.g. adding capacity, initiating and tracking maintenance requests) frees wholesalers’ staff to collaborate with customers, develop solutions, and sell new services.
From the beginning of the wholesale supplier-customer relationship, customers will need their wholesalers’ automated interfaces to support high volumes of low-value transactions. As the relationships evolve, wholesalers and their customers may want to work more collaboratively.
When that occurs, the level of person-to-person support must increase proportionally to the degree of service complexity required. In every case of personal communications, the suppliers’ and customers’ team are supported by automated tools that link OSSs and BSSs.
Wholesale carriers and customers benefit from coordinated interfaces
Wholesalers work closely with their customers to ensure they have the desired combination of interfaces in place for the processes they use. Wholesalers can also use the interfaces to track customer behavior to make sure their needs are met.
Wholesale carriers that implement coordinated interface strategies can make their own operations more efficient and cost effective; simultaneously doing the same for their customers. When customers can initiate trouble tickets, billing inquiries, and even some service requests through a portal or B2B interface, their suppliers can respond with the most appropriate resource – automated or person-to-person. This enhances mutually beneficial working relationships.
We believe the way a wholesaler integrates and coordinates its customer interface resources can provide greater competitive differentiation than just the availability of basic automated and person-to-person interfaces.
Personal contact is here to stay
The wholesale carrier business is evolving from a focus on commodity products and services to one of providing higher-functionality (and higher-value) solutions and managed services. To establish, build, and maintain customer relationships as service sophistication increases, wholesalers rely on their account teams, their support organizations, and centralized contact centers to address customers’ requirements.
Over time, APIs, portals, websites, and extranets will continue to gain further capabilities; however, the foundation of the customer relationship always requires a personal touch. No carrier we interviewed could imagine a time when automation would supplant person-to-person interaction, and neither can we.
Paris Burstyn is a senior analyst for wholesale telecoms at Ovum. For more information, visit