Evolving customer propositions

Snehal Bhudia, propositions director at BT Enterprise, spoke to Comms Business about how the company approaches evolving its products and services.

Snehal Bhudia joined BT as a graduate in 2005 and has worked her way up to propositions director in BT Enterprise where she manages an extensive multi-channel, multi-product portfolio across the BT and EE brands. Over the past couple of years, Snehal and her team have been responsible for over £100m in earnings for the company, developing new revenue streams and increasing market penetration through value creating and differentiated customer propositions.

So, what is a propositions director? Bhudia explained, “Propositions can mean quite a few different things depending on who you are or what kind of business you work in. I’ve got a team of over 85 propositions managers, and it’s our job to act as the voice of the customer within BT Enterprise. We span all segments across the UK – from SME to corporate and public sector, as well as wholesale – so you get to see from one extreme to the other.

“As voice of the customer, we focus a lot of our time developing insights. Those might come directly from conversations with customers with partners, or through looking at what’s happening in the market and seeing what trends are emerging. We can also find these internally because we get a lot of good quality feedback from our sales organisation, and from our services and product teams, who all have lots of great ideas.

“We simplify [these insights] to understand where the gaps and opportunities are, or if there are certain pain points that we need to fix. Once we’ve got a great idea, we take that through the business, invest to make sure there’s money and people behind it to create it, and then we deliver it and take it to market. We get to do that end-to-end process of coming up with the idea and working on it and defining it, to then launching that into the market with the naming and collateral and sometimes with a big campaign behind it. It’s a really good mix of both short-term deliverables and long-term strategic thinking.”

Navigating disruption

When asked what her team saw during lockdown and beyond, Bhudia discussed three big things that are in transition at the moment: IP and UC, security, and managed services. She said, “When lockdown first happened, we had an influx of calls within the first few days from people wanting to divert calls from their office number to home, and we also saw very immediate increase in daytime usage of bandwidth. Normally the peak is more in the evening, and across our entire business we found traffic was peaking during the day. Luckily, we have a lot of capacity on our network so we could handle that more than adequately.”

The security element was driven by businesses concerned about the implications of employees working from home, using new devices, or using a home connection to access the company VPN. Bhudia explained, “We had inbound queries asking, ‘is this secure?’, or ‘do I need anything additional?’.”

BT also saw people using a lot more features on the IP and UC products that they already had, but the company also offered some additional services at a discounted price and made training available to help users and businesses navigate any apps or services they now need to use.

The roadmap

The disruption of 2020 has led to many organisations reconsidering their own roadmap, yet BT has found it was already heading in the right direction. Bhudia said the roadmap has changed “slightly” but has mostly remained on the same route. She added, “This is quite comforting for us as a business because the direction that we wanted to move into was around trying to help our customers be more digitally mature. This has not changed. What has changed is the urgency.

“You often hear this, but the amount of digital transformation that has happened in these last few weeks and months is more than what would have happened over the next five years without Covid. So, we haven’t drastically changed our roadmap, but there is more impetus to get things done quicker.”

Shifting requirements

We asked whether this year has highlighted any key differences in terms of what resellers are experiencing. Bhudia said, “At the end of the day, the end user is the same. What they want and what they need is completely aligned [with what the wider BT business is seeing]. The only thing that changes is the support that we give our partners. And how much partners want from us.

“Some of our bigger customers in wholesale just want simpler things from us, so they can package it up themselves. Whereas smaller resellers want more of our SME-type proposition which is pre-bundled and comes with all the bells and whistles. But we already had quite a defined plan on all these things [that hasn’t needed to change].”

Bhudia and her team are also seeing an increase demand for managed services. She said, “People want to go on this digital transformation journey, but a lot of them don’t have the skill or the expertise. They want somebody they can trust and partner with who can give them that expert guidance and advice. Some of this is new and scary, so businesses want to be sure what they’re doing is the right thing and they recognise that they don’t have the in-house capability or experience to be able to make some of those decisions – so they’re looking for help.”

 

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Charlotte Hathway

Charlotte is the editor of Comms Business and writes content to inform and educate the Channel about the latest technology and business developments from across the industry. Prior to her current role, she wrote for other MA Business titles New Electronics, Land Mobile and Critical Communications Today. Before moving into journalism, she spent five years working in public relations and has worked with various technology companies spanning telecommunications, cyber security and software development.

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