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Mobily: “LTE will lead to completely new customer segmentation.”

Khaled Bassuny, is senior vice president of customer care for Saudi operator, Mobil

Khaled Bassuny, is senior vice president of customer care for Saudi operator, Mobily. We catch up with him ahead of his speaking role on day one of the LTE Middle East and North Africa conference taking place on the 29th-30th April, Westin Mina Seyali, Dubai, UAE.

As with any business, customers are best served when there is good competition for their business and that’s very much the case in the Saudi Arabian telecoms market. The operators Etihad Etisalat and the Saudi Telecom Company (STC) battle it out for dominance, with SMTC, the third tier operator. As of December 2011, Etihad Etisalat, which operates in the country under the brand name Mobily, is the leader at 39.81 per cent of the market according to Informa WCIS statistics, though there is just 0.58 per cent between it and STC.

“We are now in the market number one in data services,” Khaled Bassuny, senior vice president of customer care at Mobily, tells Telecoms.com. According to Bassuny, it’s the company’s focus on its customers that gives it the edge over the competition. “Customers are our most important factor and are a major key in our organisation.”

Mobily is also at the cutting edge technologically and launched its LTE service in September 2011. But LTE brings with it new paradigms for performance and speed and these are certain to alter customer expectations. Will Mobily have to alter its approach to the customer experience? It’s a topic close to Bassuny’s heart, and one he will be touching on in his speaking role at upcoming the LTE MEA Conference (That takes place on the 29th-30th April, at the Westin Mina Seyali in Dubai, UAE).

“LTE will lead to completely new customer segmentation. A completely different brand to what we have today,” Bassuny says. “The package that caters for your LTE customer will be completely different. We’re talking about new packages; new services; new promotions; new bundles, especially once we introduce 4G handsets.”

Terminal devices remain an issue, with chipsets still maturing but Bassuny is certainly excited about the advances he expects that they will bring when they do arrive. “The phone capabilities will be different; mobile specific, high-end super phones”.

But will customer’s really need LTE, or is it something that marketing departments will try to foist onto consumers? Bassuny is convinced it’s the former. “Of course they [consumers] need LTE today, especially in the main cities where customers are getting very hungry for faster data speeds.” Bassuny points to the raw figures concerning data usage, up 50TB in 2009 to 85TB by the end of 2010. “You can’t imagine the difference between them in just one year.”

Bassuny isn’t predicting ground breaking new and unheard of application for LTE toting customers, and is happy to boil it down to the one key factor – speed. “Data speed is a major factor for LTE. The speed for and data capacity. It shows that customers are looking for wired data speeds.”

Mobily doesn’t plan on going down the unlimited data route though, and Bassuny states that if it does offer an unlimited package then fair usage will be very much enforced. As far as marketing goes though Mobily will also be keeping it simple, promoting LTE as 4G, US style.

According to Bassuny one of the keys to Mobily’s successful approach to customer service is its innovative use of social media. Bassuny proudly states that Mobily recently topped a comparison poll of customer satisfaction in a group that contained compared to Vodafone UK and Vodafone Egypt. The key is providing 24/7 support through social media. “We are investing heavily in providing our support and communicating via social media. We believe that social media will play a big part in communications. It is a very important to support our customers and respond to any broadcast in a very short time. We are looking forward to responding to enquiries within six seconds – that’s our target in 2012. You have a completely different strategy, very proactive.”

It’s a bold target, and one that he feels its top-end LTE customers will appreciate, but warns that company’s should be careful with their message. “You have to make sure that you’re communicating clearly and very positively about new services and the new [LTE] technology.

Bassuny believes that aside from the technical challenges of rolling out LTE, carriers need to keep on the ball when it comes to customer service. “It’s not only that you’re providing something new with state of the art technology -  it has go with the kind of support that customers are expecting to help those facing any challenges using LTE.”

For those that get it right, Bassuny sees exciting times ahead. “We believe that customers’ requirements and expectations will be different. I think by the end of 2012 you’ll start to see a completely different market with LTE at the heart of it.”

The LTE Middle East and North Africa conference takes place on the 29th-30th April, Westin Mina Seyali, Dubai, UAE. Go to the website to register your interest.

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