Internet service providers come in all shapes and sizes. Some global giants like AT&T spend over $20 billion a year on capital projects to improve their network. At the other end of the spectrum, you have small wireless Internet service providers. If you run a smaller company, you probably know why your offering is uniquely valuable. Some of your customers may know why you’re special. However, your potential customers may wonder why they should choose you versus a national brand.
Winning the contest for Internet customers in such an unequal match doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Explore these five business questions to clarify why you are a good choice.
1) What Is Your Pricing Strategy?
Pricing for Internet service is often the first question customers ask, so let’s address it right away. In rural areas, there are usually only a few options available for Internet service. Therefore, you can expect questions to price shop your company against the giants. Anticipate that question by developing a pricing strategy. Specifically, decide if you want to match the giants in pricing or offer something different.
Tip: To limit head to head price shopping, you can design your pricing and packages to be different. For example, offer different price tiers and data packages.
2) What Is Your Internet Service Level?
The service level you offer to the marketplace is a critical strategic decision. Your service offering will generally include a few components:
- Product. Explain clearly what customers can expect in terms of upload speed, download speed, and monthly data. While mainly people will have an understand of abstract figures like gigabytes, take the time to translate these into consumer terms as well. For example, streaming an hour of Netflix video consumes approximately 1-3 GB of data.
- Customer Service. The quality of customer service you offer can make you stand out. For example, if you operate your contact center in the local community, that will help your staff better connect with customers.
- Business Continuity Plan. Telecommunications infrastructure sometimes breaks down and needs to be fixed. To win customer loyalty, tell them about your recovery plans, such as redundancy connections and the capabilities of your maintenance staff.
Service Package Examples: Intelliwave
Established in 2002, Ohio-based Intelliwave has thousands of Internet customers. The company started with dialup and extended into other technologies, including a fiber-optic network. The company’s network uses two wireless towers to serve rural areas of Ontario. In terms of service packages, the company emphasizes unlimited bandwidth and no overage fees. Data only packages vary in price from 25 Megabits all the way up to 1 Gigabit connections. Besides, the company also offers non-Internet services like cable television and phone service.
3) What Is Your Approach To The Community?
This is one area where giant Internet service providers suffer. It is difficult for them to achieve a high degree of prominence in every city and country across the country. In contrast, a regional wireless Internet service provider can focus more tightly on the community.
Your approach to the community you operate in will vary. A few specific factors to consider include:
- Employment. If you hire local staff, that is one of the best ways to show you are engaged with the local community.
- Volunteer Support. Think of tried and true methods here like sponsoring local children’s sports teams. You might also sponsor employees to come together to work on a community project.
- Educational Support & Corporate Giving. Offering scholarships and making donations to local charitable organizations raises your profile. It also gives tangible evidence that you are committed to the local company. A giant telecom company located far away will find it more challenging to create this kind of local presence.
All of these ways to approach your community raise your profile and give your customers more reasons to stay loyal to you.
4) How Will You Pursue Innovation In Internet Service?
In 2020, we are witnessing a boom in remote work arrangements. Back in 2017, more than 8 million Americans worked from home, and that figure has increased further in 2020. The remote work trend, along with an increase in the number of video streaming services (e.g., Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime), means customer demand for bandwidth will only increase in the coming years. If you want to keep your customers, you must find ways to innovate and deliver faster, better service.
At a practical level, you might decide to become an early adopter of 5G technology. As of late 2019, this technology is only available in a few areas, including major cities. Becoming the first rural Internet service provider to adopt 5G will help you to stand out and compete against the giant companies.
5) What Value Added Services Will You Offer?
When you offer only one service like wireless Internet access, you are in danger. First, you face increased danger in the form of pricing pressure. Second, you may lose customers to larger firms who can offer a full range of telecommunication services (e.g., TV, phone, Internet, and entertainment services).
To answer this question by offering at least supplemental service in addition to Internet access. For example, consider Illinois based Wisper Internet. In addition to Internet service, the company provides phone service and a “cut the cord” cable alternative. To stay competitive, offering Internet service alone is no longer the best option.
You Can Compete With The Giants
Smaller Internet service companies may not have the same bottomless resources as national players. However, they can stand out by offering more attractive service packages like no caps on bandwidth. Also, you can position your company as the best local choice by becoming highly active in your community. Finally, take the time to benchmark your offerings with other firms regularly. You might not offer fiber Internet service right now, but you might need to offer it in the future to remain competitive.
Once you’ve answered these business strategy questions, build out your systems to keep pace with your growth plans. Contact us today to find out about FW-300i, a device that lets you add miles of coverage to your wireless network coverage.