Finding an ISP isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Connectivity should be tailored to the customer, shaped to match the budget and suited to the business purpose.
I recently chaired a panel debate in London at the BT Tower, discussing what customers expect from their ISPs and how these expectations are likely to change in the future. The panelists, representing a cross section of the internet service industry, provided insight and analysis into how end users will be using connectivity in the future.
The need for reliability and speed
What was clear, was that from the demands for more data, to consumers starting to make more use of connected devices and IoT, the desire for constant reliability and increased connectivity speeds is more important than ever. We all know what we want when it comes to connectivity, so how can we ensure ISPs are keeping up with these expectations?
Meeting customer expectations is crucial as ISPs become more important in our digital world. Streamlined connectivity means profitable businesses, boosted productivity and enhanced performance. Access to this is now expected and something we need to get right.
ISPs need to understand what their consumers want. Of course, price is a factor, yet what consumers really expect is value when it comes to the service provided – this means, speed, delivery, reliability and access to experts as standard. A recent study by Which? revealed that businesses who expected to receive broadband speeds in excess of 30Mbps are the most likely to be let down – it is here where the problem lies. Consumers are not getting what they expected. Is this because consumer expectations are too high? Or ISPs are simply over promising and under delivering?
Significant regulation milestones over the recent years has enabled customers to find their voice in this industry. Big providers such as BT and Sky have been very open with their views on the industry , which has created a more open discussion around the challenges businesses face. The market is quickly reacting to customer’s demands for better service attention and what’s great is that we are seeing smaller ISPs taking on the bigger players. And winning! People are discouraged by organisations like BT and OpenReach because they feel that they don’t put customers at the heart of their service strategy.
Nothing like a bit of healthy competition
The UK is ranked 31st in the world in terms of broadband speeds, so compared to some of our European counterparts we are behind the curve. The government is trying to solve this issue by subsidising businesses through voucher schemes, but the question is whether these sorts of initiatives can really make a difference?
Greater competition means ISPs must put an emphasis on innovation and growth to survive, which is only good news for the end customer. We need to do more as an industry to listen to our audiences to understand what they want rather than letting ISPs speculate what customers want.
But where does that leave us?
The need for seamless connectivity will only increase both in business and the home. Customers aren’t all the same, they don’t all want the same things. The segment of people that want low prices and speeds is getting smaller. There isn’t a one-size fits all strategy to seamless connectivity and big providers need to re-shape their services around the customer. Ultimately, not-spots will soon become a thing of the past and smaller ISPs are creeping up to take the biggest advantage.
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 * Matthew Hare, Chief Executive of Gigaclear, Paul Adams, Customer Marketing Director at Nokia, Oliver Johnson, CEO of Point Topic and Gary Hough, Regulatory Manager at Zen Internet.