Building a product is all about compromise, particularly if you're trying to accommodate every business process since the beginning of time. Luckily, we're building the product and the business at the same time.
My career has been built on compromises. Hundreds of hours were spent meeting with people who had conflicting mandates, and collaborating on solutions that worked for everyone. The biggest products and services I worked on were made up of thousands of tiny compromises.
There was one person who never showed up to any of the meetings - our customers. Sadly, they were never invited.
Nobody owned the customer experience, either. Or, more aptly, we all owned different parts of the experience but were held accountable to more quantifiable metrics – revenue, churn, sales, fraud, net promoter scores.
The customer was competing against the needs of dealers and 3rd party retailers, offshore call centre processes and tools, bad debt recovery companies, and a business model trying to serve everyone.
When dotmobile was first conceived, I knew that putting the customer in the middle was the most important thing we could do; the best way to get the customer in the meeting room was to get rid of everyone else.
Before we could do that though, we needed to make The Big Compromise: putting it all in the app. Every last bit. If it can’t go in the app, it doesn’t exist.
And what a liberating compromise it’s been! Now the only people in the room are the customer and the app. It unshackles us from the past and lets us build for the future.
The Digital Operating Model
It’s silly to proclaim that digital-only is a lower cost way to do business, because digital-only doesn’t have to mean cheap. Building and maintaining an application is expensive. Competition is fierce, international, and evolving quickly.
In the case of telecommunications, however, digital-only is incredibly different from how traditional mobile network operators are run. All those people we’ve kicked out of the meeting room represent entire divisions at an MNO, focused on building and maintaining an ecosystem of non-digital experiences.
With a more focused approach to the customer experience, and by association the product itself, we are building an operating model that is lean and mean. It allows us to stack everything in our basket and deliver the best we can without compromise.
Digital-only is an upgrade!
The traditional carriers want to treat digital-only as a low cost option, with a compromised customer experience on low-end brands. To them, the digital-only approach is mostly hands off. They are focused on getting you in the door before trying to upsell you to a full-service brand. Their version of digital-only is full of compromises that exist only to make you want the more expensive option.
It’s an approach that’s going full speed in the opposite direction of so many other industries. Streaming video and music are the preferred experience for many people, compared to cable TV or radio. Without legislative protection, taxi cabs struggle to compete against ride-hailing services, and it’s because the taxis have consistently offered an experience born of monopolistic laziness. Many a millennial is being swayed to invest their savings for the first time thanks to the promise of digital: control, transparency, and the accompanying confidence those instill.
Everyone knows what an upgrade a digital-only experience can be. It's not easy to build, and many fail, but when it’s done right you have to admit - it’s hard to go back to the old ways.
No Compromises is a Compromise
It’s a contradiction. A catch-22. A paradox.
By going digital-only I no longer have to accept the compromises inherited by operating retail sales teams and call centre support. Conversely, I have to accept the limitations of not having stores or someone you can call, so it all has to go in the app.
I've fully accepted the limitations and am finally free to build the wireless provider of the future.