Telecoms suppliers slip up on service

John Riley reports from the Technical Infrastructure Forum conference in Birmingham

John Riley reports from the Technical Infrastructure Forum conference in Birmingham

A high proportion of IT managers are frustrated with the quality of service from their telecoms suppliers, judging from an overwhelming show of hands at the Technical Infrastructure Forum (tif) conference near Birmingham last week.

Many managers are particularly frustrated with the quality of their telecoms supplier account managers, claiming they generally have a poorer understanding than IT supplier account managers of their own products and the business context into which they are placed.

One senior manager said that the safe economic model of the traditional telecoms companies was not conducive to producing good sales people and that, with deregulation, they are finding they need knowledge about their customers.

John Wright, manager of BP and IM Telecommunications for Xerox Europe, and this year's chairman of the Telecommunications Managers Association, told the conference: "This situation reflects our fast-moving industry where everyone's job role is changing. For example, some users are becoming suppliers, others are being outsourced. There's been a change in the way telecoms companies sell. They traditionally went to the telecoms manager. Then they started targeting the chief executive or finance director and the TMA was concerned that telecom managers were not involved.

"Now we see a shift back full circle. That's because companies are putting Internet decisions with the business rather than with the technical people. Suppliers haven't a clue who to talk to so they ask the telecoms managers," said Wright.

Typical gripes with telecoms suppliers

  • "The account managers change too often"

  • "They don't know their own products"

  • "Once they've landed a major contract the whole account team changes - we need to deal with one team"

  • "It's not a question of technology, it's that the commercial management is not there, and relationship management is poor - they don't know where to go in their own organisations"

  • "Our supplier has different accounting teams to support different business streams and can't synchronise them into a standard deal"

  • "They have lots of strategies but don't have the tactics to get them to next week"

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