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The Curse of Below-Par Provisioning

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By Michael Bremmer

The most important part of any sale is the customer’s experience during delivery of the product or service. And when it comes to provisioning, carriers can do better — a lot better.

During a recent episode of the television show “Bones," the main character used an infrared light during her "pre-delivery" tour to check the cleanliness of the hospital where she was scheduled to give birth to her  daughter. Unfortunately for the hospital staff, the very pregnant mother discovered blood spattered throughout the hallway and on the walls and ceiling. Obviously, the tour came to a quick and very unhappy ending.

Whether it’s a dirty glass, a rude flight attendant or a number that got missed at port time, it’s all the same: a poor experience for the customer.

Carriers must realize that they work for residuals just like agents; the difference is that they have more zeroes on their residual checks.

In my experience, people in provisioning are consistently treated like second-class citizens. Carriers would do well to invest heavily in their provisioning and service delivery departments for a world-class organization. An army marches on its stomach and telecom is no different. 

The biggest problems we see on a daily basis are:

  1. Multiple people handling an order.  Too many cooks ruin the soup.
  2. Overloaded (or inept) provisioners.  Sadly, I’ve seen both at many carriers.
  3. Too many carrier forms that are difficult for the customer (and/or agent) to understand.
  4. Poor communications/expectations being set between sales,  the provisioner and the customer.
  5. Carriers that don’t play nice with each other at port time.

So what’s the easy solution?  I don't know for sure; I'm not the vice president of provisioning for a carrier.  But I do have a few ideas:

  1. Staff/train up your provisioning departments and have one person handle the order from beginning to end.  Grade each install and give bonuses to the provisioners that consistently earn As for their work. It wouldn’t cost that much compared to bad cuts/angry customers.
  2. Standardize your company's data collection polices and paperwork.  Then hire an outside firm (not telecom consultants) to review them for readability.  Add a required customer signature form for customer expectations, but lose another form when you do this — too many pages scare customers.
  3. Play nice with your competitors at port time.  When carriers do stupid things to “save" customers, it just hurts the whole industry.  I’ve had customer’s phones “accidentally" turned off two days before port and other stupid games. 

Michael Bremmer is the CEO of TelecomQuotes.com . A trusted adviser to Fortune 50 companies and MSBs, Bremmer’s passion is customer service. With more than 20 years of experience in the telecom industry, he fervently believes the act of communicating with other humans shouldn’t be difficult, considering we’ve had at least a few thousand years of practice as a species. Bremmer is a member of the 2012-13 Channel Partners Advisory Board .

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