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Wholesale Suppliers Focus on Growth, Large Accounts; Customer Satisfaction Follows

February 04, 2014

One would expect service providers to focus their sales and customer efforts in market segments where telecom industry revenue growth is highest, or where profit margins are highest.

Findings of a survey conducted by Atlantic-ACM of global wholesale buyers suggests that principle is at work in the wholesale business, even if overall buyer satisfaction has remained stable since 2010.

Customer satisfaction with overall wholesale service-provider operations has changed by less than one percent since 2010, Atlantic-ACM found, and that was true in 2013 as well as early 2014.

But possibly because suppliers are focusing on their larger accounts, smaller buyers show below-average satisfaction sentiments. Few would find that terribly surprising in a business that, because of dropping profit margins, has been focused on growing volume.

Though overall satisfaction declined by 0.7 percent from 2010 to 2014 among all global wholesale customers, ratings from customers spending more than $25 million annually on wholesale connectivity increased by 4.1 percent, while it decreased by 2.3 percent among customers spending less than $25 million.

At least in part, you can guess why some of that dissatisfaction is occurring. Smaller accounts likely are finding levels of support, prices, access and other forms of supplier engagement have waned as attention has shifted to the larger accounts.

Early in 2014, satisfaction among large customers virtually leaped five percent among large customers. On the other hand, satisfaction among smaller customers declined 0.5 percent early in 2014.

image via shutterstock

Customers with fewer than 10,000 employees rated their global wholesale service providers flat year-over-year, while those with more than 10,000 employees rated them 3.3 percent higher, another way of noting that respondents at the largest firms are more satisfied than those from smaller companies.

Carrier strategy, though, might explain most of the change. One might argue that larger firms have the resources and positioning to target many higher-growth segments. Global growth now is driven by mobile, more than fixed, for example. So one would expect suppliers without mobile assets to be getting comparatively less attention.

Also, the business increasingly is characterized by scale, and the largest firms are in better position to expand globally in the faster-growing markets, such as parts of Asia. The business also now features new types of customers.

Customers in fixed network verticals reported satisfaction levels 1.1 percent lower, while satisfaction among customers with operations in mobile service grew 5.3 percent.

Customers in “emerging markets” (cable and content or ISP verticals; resale customers and system integration firms; and data center or hosting/cloud providers) reported satisfaction levels 2.1 percent higher.

There also is evidence that specialists supporting smaller accounts do not suffer as much as very-large wholesalers. This also is what one would expect. A distinguishing feature of smaller wholesale providers is that they often differentiate on service and other attributes of the buyer experience.




Edited by Ryan Sartor

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