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Third of IT decision-makers rely on gut feel when choosing network operator

Study from customer experience technology provider shows lack of transparency is cited as the most consistent quality failure of network providers

A report from tech firm Arelion has revealed that as many as 32% of business leaders admit that more than half of their decision-making process is based on emotional response or “gut feel” when choosing a network provider. 

The Quest for network quality in 2022 research was conducted on behalf of the network experience firm – formerly known as Telia Carrier – by Savanta in the first half of 2022 with 754 industry representatives in the US, the UK, Germany and France who worked for enterprises employing more than 4,000 people.

Among the top line findings was that business leaders ranked trustworthiness, professionalism and experience as the top reasons for selecting a network operator. When asked whether consistent and transparent communication or speed (in terms of delivery and operations) was more important to them when choosing a network provider, 64% said communication was by far the prime practical quality required – speed was just 36% of the vote.

However, decision-makers in the US are particularly driven by emotion, with 46% attributing more than half of their decision-making processes to it. Also, perceived “quality”, in a network services sense, was a broad and somewhat intangible concept, with no single commonly accepted definition. And while, for most leaders, network quality is a given – with service-level agreements (SLAs) acting as a key safety net – the survey suggested that it does not define or capture all the qualities that matter to decision-makers. 

In addition to this, 84% of decision-makers thought it should always be possible to speak with a customer services person without using chatbots or automated phone lines. In the US, 90% of leaders were adamant about this. Also, 62% of US respondents were markedly ahead of their UK, French and German counterparts when it comes to insisting that the first contact is with someone who is technically qualified to solve their problem.

Unsurprisingly, overall network performance is the most important area for business leaders, with more than two-thirds (67%) claiming to have replaced their provider because of poor quality. As regards responses from the different markets, US decision-makers again stood out as the most likely to change provider over quality issues (72%), followed by Germany (68%).

However, what Arelion called a surprisingly high proportion of respondents (68%) admitted to making the change because of a poor relationship with their account manager, with less than one-third choosing to just change the representative. US leaders (77%) and German leaders (69%) are particularly prone to pulling the trigger in this way, along with 62% of UK and 59% of French decision-makers.

Arelion said the findings strongly suggest that network providers must get the appointment of their account managers right, because they can make or break the customer-vendor relationship regardless of how an operator might be meeting its SLA obligations.

Leaders were asked which experiences would have the most negative impact on their perception of quality with their current operator, and over one-third (34%) cited repeated network failings, followed closely by dishonesty at 27%. Looking at individual countries, the US stood out with 31% of leaders saying they were most adversely affected by not being able to speak to someone.

Based on the experience of dealing with different network operators, Arelion asked leaders what they saw as the most consistent quality failure across the industry. The main one cited, with 18% of the vote, was lack of transparency, followed by poor security (16%). While the US and the UK refer to a lack of transparency, leaders in France and Germany prioritise unresponsiveness and poor security.

Overall, this research provides valuable insights into what enterprise leaders are experiencing in terms of network and service quality,” said Andy Everest, vice-president, procurement & service delivery at Arelion. “It gives a clear steer on what they are looking for, which ultimately comes down to their network provider delivering quality – in its broadest sense.

“The challenge for network buyers is that a true evaluation of network service quality goes beyond a simple comparison of performance KPIs, and business leaders need to make an assessment of several less tangible attributes that contribute to a compelling customer experience.”

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