What are the key differentiators among telecom expense management (TEM) providers today? 

At first blush, differences are hard to find. According to Gartner’s 2021 TEM Market Guide, TEM is a mature and commoditized market, particularly in the United States: “Technical or functional differentiation between vendors can be limited and may even seem indistinguishable. This leads to a strong focus on price competition, which has intensified in 2021.” ¹

Blog_Service Quality Driven TEM_Differentiation through Trust

But keep reading that market guide. Because Gartner is convinced that TEM differentiation does exist, and it emerges primarily through something it labels, “service quality”: “The differentiation that exists tends to be in areas such as geographic reach and coverage but the main differentiating aspect is the service quality,” insists the research firm. “This is evidenced by processes and methodologies that deliver consistency, reliability, and continued efforts at managing the estate effectively.” ²

But isn’t service quality even more fundamental than that? At the end of the day, yes you want consistency, reliability, and proactive management, but even more than that, you want a vendor you can trust. A vendor that is easy to do business with, tells you like it is, addresses issues head on and always does what is in your best interest. 

Trust is the key.

Lessons from the B2C World

But what does trust mean in the context of TEM? And what difference can deep trust between an enterprise and a TEM provider make? 

The B2C space offers a surprisingly relevant, instructive, and recent example. 

In an attempt to identify and quantify the “business value of trust,” Twilio and Deloitte Digital spent the summer of 2021 surveying 1,000 consumers and 500 leaders of large, business-to-consumer enterprises in the United States. And in a January 11, 2022, webinar entitled “Close the Trust Gap,” Twilio and Deloitte Digital revealed their findings, quantifying the value of trust during the economy’s ongoing shift to digital. 

A key takeaway from the webinar? The “ease of doing business with a brand” enhances trust (components of “ease” include – quick issue resolution; easy access to live customer support; no bouncing customers from person to person when addressing an issue; and simplicity in finding needed information). 

This is an enormously important insight because the data also suggest that a deep sense of trust makes it significantly more likely that customers will stay loyal to a particular brand. Consider that according to the “Close the Trust Gap Report,” consumers spend 25% more on average on the brands they deeply trust. As the report’s Executive Summary points out: “That’s not all. Trust impels customers to become more loyal and to advocate for your brand. It’s a key ingredient in differentiating your business from the competition while improving efficiency through reduced customer churn and lower acquisition costs.” ³

But the repercussions of deep trust don’t end there. Twilio and Deloitte Digital also show that more than half of customers will stop purchasing from a particular brand when they lose a sense of trust; in fact, the data show that one in two such customers will turn around and share their negative experiences with anyone who’ll listen.

Trust in Service Quality is Everything

It’s worth asking – is the situation Twilio and Deloitte Digital sketch out so different from relationships in the B2B space, and those within the realm of TEM specifically? 

If a particular TEM provider is consistent, reliable, and timely, it will be far easier for that provider’s clients to achieve strategic technology objectives that are within budget. In turn, those satisfied clients will be more likely to further invest in their TEM partner. 

On the other hand, if a TEM vendor does not communicate clearly and offers a less than stellar level of service, they’re not only likely to lose business, but their ears might soon be buzzing with all the negative stories being told about them by dissatisfied clients.

From the perspective of enterprises, this leads to a powerful question. Which TEM providers offer trust through a true service-driven approach to TEM? Because to Gartner’s point, service quality might just be the most important difference-maker of all. Commitments don’t end once software is delivered, and top TEM providers should push the best outcomes for their clients.

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[1] From: Gartner, “Market Guide for Telecom Expense Management Services,” December 22, 2021, p. 7.

[2] Ibid, p. 7.

[3] From: Twilio and Deloitte Digital, “Close the Trust Gap to Unlock Business Value,” October, 2021, p. 3.