Should the president of Shell Oil Canada wish to spend a week working from a remote cabin in the wilderness, no matter how many thousands of kilometres from his Calgary head office, Canadian telco Telus Corporation wants to know all about it.
Not only that, it wants to be able to assure the executive the same level of service he gets in his office. It wants to know exactly how any service interruption impacts on the executive and his business. And it wants to know exactly how a disruption to his services would affect its own business, by associating a "lifetime value"with the customer.
It may sound a tall order, but the British Columbia-based company is getting close to being the first Canadian service provider to do just that, according to Leona LaChance, director shared services, Telus technology & operations. The key lies with an intelligent service assurance solution that is helping Telus proactively prevent outages. The solution helps the company to distinguish its offerings from competitors' by providing tangible proof to customers that contracted obligations have been met and letting it rebate them for data services that were not delivered.
Now LaChance wants to go further.
"We want to know that what might seem like a very minute service - such as a private connection to someone's cabin - is in fact the connection the president of Shell Oil in Canada uses so he can work while he is on vacation. We should know how that would profoundly affect our business,"she says.
Taking on the Big Boys
Perhaps more than any other industry, a service provider lives and dies by fault management, says La Chance. And when that service provider is competing with a telecom giant, that fault management had better be very effective indeed.
Telus connects organisations coast-to-coast across Canada and provides a full range of telecommunication products and services connecting Canadians to the world. The second-largest telco in Canada, as well as the largest mobile phone service provider in Canada, the organisation has almost 30,000 employees.
The company provides data, Internet protocol, voice and wireless services to Western, Central and Eastern Canada. It is an Internet service provider, an application service provider, and provider of Web hosting and DSL services to both its own customers and other ISPs.
Since deregulation, Telus as the incumbent carrier in Alberta and British Columbia in the West has been slogging it out for market share against Bell Canada in the East. And since it knows how unrealistic it is to attempt to compete against a giant like Bell on price, it is left to compete for market share on stickiness.
"Stickiness,"Davi Ghose, an analyst with CIBC World Markets told ITWorld Canada last year, "is Telus providing its business customers with a whole range of networking services rather than squaring off with Bell on price where it will not be able to compete."
And stickiness is just what the company is achieving, with a spectacular renewal rate for outsourcing contracts of around 90 per cent in an industry where customers commonly bounce from one provider to another, then back to in-house because of bad experiences with suppliers.
The secret lies in superior service. When Canada's provincial telephone companies decided to get into the IP and ATM data offerings, they all spun off "advanced communications"companies in each market. Reacting to the intense competition, Telus decided from inception to build its business around service management and offer distinct service level agreements to the marketplace. The company was determined to take advantage of the availability of new, smarter software. It is a determination that is ongoing and keen.
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