Internship Report on CityCell

Introducing the Company

The Company

Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Limited (PBTL) is the first mobile phone service provider in the Indian subcontinent. The address of the Head office is: “Pacific Centre” 14, Mohakhali C/A Dhaka 1212. PBTL was founded by Pacific Group Limited and Hutchison Whampoa Limited. CityCell is the brand name under which Pacific Bangladesh Telecom provides wireless telecom or mobile phone service and products to the general and other customers.

Pacific Group Ltd.

The Pacific Group is a group of companies under common ownership. The group has interests in automobile service (Pacific Motors Ltd.), consumer electronics (Pacific Industries Ltd.), fisheries (Bengal Fisheries Ltd.), tea (Noyapara Tea Company Ltd.) and telecommunications (Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Ltd.). This group of industries was founded by renowned industrialist and current honorable foreign minister – Mr. M. Morshed Khan.

Hutchison Whampoa Ltd.

Hutchison Whampoa Limited (HWL) is a Hong Kong-based diversified, multinational company with its origins dating back to the 1800s. As part of the Li Ka-Shing group of companies, HWL’s ultimate shareholder is Cheung Kong (Holdings) Limited, which has a 49.9 % interest in the Company. In terms of market capitalization, HWL is one of the largest companies listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange. With over 150,000 employees worldwide, the Group operates five core businesses in 41 countries.

The Company History

In October 1990, Hutchison Bangladesh Telecom Limited (HBTL) was formed as a joint venture between Bangladesh Telecom Limited (BTL) and Hutchison Whampoa Limited of Hong Kong. In March of that year BTL had been issued a license by Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) for operating cellular, paging and other wireless communication networks.

However, soon there was legal dispute between BTTB and BTL regarding the refusal of BTTB to provide Public Switch Telecommunication Network (PSTN) channels for connectivity to the BTTB network. The Supreme Court then ruled in April 1993 that BTTB would have to provide PSTN connections to HBTL, and that BTL would have to transfer the cellular portion to the license of HBTL. BTTB gave HBTL the PSTN connections in August 1993 and HBTL began commercial operation of the first cellular telephone service in Bangladesh in the same month. The owners of HBTL decided to sell their stakes in the company due to the legal war. HBTL’s shares were divided into two parts: Type A, which was held by BTL and Type B, held by Hutchison. Each type of share represented 50% title of HBTL. Pacific Motors Limited bought the type A shares while Hong Kong based financial investors Far East Telecom Limited bought the Type B shares.

On 12th February 1996, HBTL was renamed Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Limited. PBTL uses the brand name CityCell to market its cellular products. In order to boost the financial and also the managerial strength of PBTL, the shareholders of PBTL has completed the transaction under the agreements in which Fujitsu Limited, Japan and Asian Infrastructure Development Company (AIDEC), established in Cayman Islands, would acquire 10% and 20% equity shares in PBTL, respectively on June 2000.

With this acquisition of 10% shares in PBTL by Fujitsu Limited, a Global Fortune 500 company, they have further strengthened their presence in Bangladesh and also have demonstrated confidence as well as their commitment to the Bangladesh market. Fujitsu has long been supplying Microwave links and telecommunications equipment to BTTB and is clearly a leading market player in providing telecommunication solutions in Bangladesh. Being 10% equity shareholder of the company Fujitsu is in a position to nominate 1 (one) Director to the Board of PBTL.

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Mission, Vision, Objectives, Strategies

Mission

PBTL’s mission statement is “To be the most successful cellular, paging and other wireless service provider in Bangladesh by virtue of having greater operating expertise.” CityCell’s inherent emphasis is on quality, not cheapness of service. The first priority is to provide a high end service that can be used for both commercial and personal use.

Vision

The Vision of the company is “To to be the leader in the Telecom industry in the region and provide a complete communication solution to the customers with a smile.” There is an emphasis on strong customer relations. This is important to CityCell especially as, until recently, they positioned their packages as high end packages (corporate and business users). Such customers will require strong support for brand loyalty to develop.

Objectives

Qualitative Objectives:

  • Increasing service offerings.
  • Expanding the network.
  • Creating innovative, unique, and cost-effective various products to customers.
  • Increasing loyalty by focused customer retention program.

Quantifiable objectives:

  • Increase subscriber base to 1 million by Dec 31, 2005
  • 99.5% overall network availability by the end of 2005
  • Network coverage in 61 districts (out of eligible 61) by the end of 2005

Strategies

Functional Level Strategy

  • PBTL’s focus is on efficiency, quality, innovation, and customer responsiveness.

Business Level Strategy

PBTL applies cost leadership and differentiation strategies as its business level

Corporate Level Strategy

  • PBTL follows related diversification as their corporate level strategies.

Organizational Structure

PBTL has a total of about 500 employees:

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Sales & Marketing:

As the name implies, this division’s job is to conduct marketing promotion of CityCell. The job of its employees is to maintain relationship distribution channel, media, and corporate clients. This division also deals with value added services, brand and product design.

In the Sales Division there are Channel Sales, Corporate Sales and Direct Sales. In the Marketing Division, there are Market Communications, Brand, VAS, Product Development and FWT & Backbone Departments. The Senior Vice President is the Chief Marketing Officer of this Sales & Marketing Division. Details about the departments have been discussed in the following chapter.

Customer Service Operation, Billing and IT:

This department deals with customer after the sale occurs. Main activities of this department includes maintaining data base of the customers, preparing, distributing, and collecting the bills, activating new connections, deactivating connections, helpline service, interchanging of the CDMA sets, collecting the faulty and repairable sets, returning repaired sets, changing CDMA sets and so on. This department is divided into three divisions:

a) Billing and IT         b) Service Delivery

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Finance and Commercial:

This department is divided into two divisions, a) LC preparation and Purchase, and b) Fund Management. Here LC is opened for purchasing of sets and equipment, and all the funds collected are used and controlled for the maximum benefit of the company. This department is also responsible for the budgeting which takes place once a year for the next three years.

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Engineering:

This department is responsible for the setting up and maintenance of the heavy equipment and the major telecom channels required for providing services to customers. This department is divided into 7 divisions. They are Switch, Central Base station, Microwave, Radio Frequency, Base Transceiver Station, Power, Planning and development.

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Accounts:

This department is responsible for collecting direct cash or check or charging credit cards from the customers who are paying for the service and equipment. This department is also responsible to maintain the balance of store where sets and equipments are gathered for future purpose and present operation.

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 Administration and Human Resource:

As the name implies, this department has three major divisions. The Administration division is responsible for Contract, Legal and Protocol & Government affairs. The Purchase & General Maintenances is responsible for Purchase & Support and Estate & Properties, Maintenance & general security. The Human Resource department is responsible for procuring future employees according. This department is also responsible for maintaining the database of all employees, leaves, attendance, health care and related fields of employees.

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Functions of the Sales and Marketing Division

The major marketing goal of this division is to capture a significant market segment that will yield maximum revenue by means of passing on directly or indirectly high end cellular phone service. Many clients provide telecom services to their locality by Tellular or Fixed Wireless package (FWT). The rates of this package may be low but this is offset by the high frequency of usage and the strong support claimed to be provided by CityCell.

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SVP

The office of the Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Division is responsible for coordination of marketing activities across the company and to provide top level management with an overall picture of the market situation.

VP

The Vice-President of the division oversees the product and business development scenario of the company. He is responsible to the SVP of the division.

Product Development

This department is responsible for find out the innovative features that can attract the existing and potential customers. Product development is one of the key departments in the company. While developing new packages and talk plans this department has to keep in mind the profit and cost issue. Under all these constraints the department has been producing exciting and new features which ultimately attract customers.

Value Added Service (VAS)

This is another department which also deals with product development but this department is concerned only with the Value Added Services that the company offers. Value added services are those other than basic voice calls. CityCell’s VAS department is one of leading VAS providers in the country in terms of the number of wide range services that it is providing.

 

4.4.1 Short Messages Service (SMS)

4.4.2 Voice Mail Service

 

4.4.3 Call Conferencing

 

4.4.4 SMS Based Information Services

 

  • Fun (Jokes, quotations, etc.)
  • Financial Services
  • Emergency Services
  • Sports
  • SMS Banking & others

Table 2:  All of the Voice Based Information Services at a Glance

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Brand

The brand department of the company deals with image o the brand to the customers. It basically helps the brand to portray its intentioned image to the potential target group. This department along with the Marketing Communication department deals with the promotional activities.

 Corporate Sales

There is a separate office of assistant vice-president for corporate sales who is also responsible for corporate customer relations. Corporate customers are given high priority in terms of sales and also in terms of after sales service. Of course this is due to the high usage and need for good long term goodwill with such corporate clients. This department however deals mainly with sales to corporate customers and maintenance of relations with both current clients as well as scouting out potential new corporate clients, whereas the after sales service and other issues are dealt with by the customer services operations section of the company.

Channel Sales

The assistant vice president responsible for channel management has the very important job of setting up marketing channels by which packages are distributed among clients and by which feedback is obtained from customers. This department is responsible for the selection of new dealers and motivating them and current dealers to promote CityCell packages to their customers in their respective areas. This department is also responsible for seeing that there is an excellent support network for each dealer and that they are satisfied with their monetary or otherwise remuneration.

This department is also responsible for checking that each dealer does not cut into the sales of another dealer in a very proximal region.

Marketing Communications

The chief responsibility of this department is logically, promotion and communication of new products and product ideas to customers both directly through selection of advertising media, then dissemination of information by means of advertisements; and indirectly through dealers by providing them with promotional material. This department is also responsible for public relations which do not include corporate relations. This is handled, as we have seen, by other departments. The responsibility of this department is immensely important especially in the introduction stage of a package for customers. They also provide help for other departments such as the front office and services marketing in order to promote CityCell packages to both current and new customers. This helps very much in handling cases of dissatisfied customers and also in case of adjusting customers with old packages who have to be convinced to upgrade their packages to the new ones on offer.

The company sub-contracts its promotional materials production to local companies. A regular number of events are held to integrate promotional activities with public relation exercises to enhance the image of CityCell and better promote the packages on offer.

Product & Tariff design

This sub-department is under the Product Development department and is responsible for the design of packages and the fixing of tariff rates which are actually the rates of usage for each package. This department is also responsible for the coordination of market research for the whole company. They will integrate knowledge gleaned from extensive market research into the design of new packages that fulfills the needs of customers. This is done very frequently as the needs of even the most stable of customer segments change and the company has to change the tariff structure of its offered packages accordingly.

FWT and Backbone

This particular department looks after the Fixed Wireless Terminal clients and the packages. FWT has been one of the most profitable sectors for the company. As a result this department has a great significance to the company. PBTL has undertaken a commercial program to expand its business activities to selling back-bone for data transfer to corporate clients. This network stretches from Chittagong to Sylhet through Dhaka. It has immense potential and may generate significant revenues for the company.

The overall structure of the sales & marketing department and its sections of CityCell has both advantages and disadvantages in terms of organizational structural and respective functionality.

Products and Service offered by Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Limited

Post Paid Packages

‘CityCell 1000’ (Regular):

Commercial/ Business/ Personal use by high income consumers. This product can reach the Local T&T, NWD, IDD and all Mobile service operators across the country. It is one of the old packages of CityCell. Still this package is being provided to many high income group consumers. Both small and large institutions and organizations subscribe the service as their needs.

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CityCell 500’ (Regular):

Commercial/ Business/ Personal use by high income consumers. This product can reach the Local T&T, NWD, IDD and all Mobile service across the country. This is one of the regular packages which have the most number of subscribers. This package is known and admired to all. The subscription fee and the tariff are affordable than the other mobile operators are offering. These days not only high income group but also high medium and medium income groups also use this service because of the lowest billing rate offered by CityCell.

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‘Mobile 250’ (Mobile to Mobile with BTTB Incoming and Limited Outgoing):

Personal use by middle income consumers. Significant number of customers is having this subscription. It is very popular among students and medium salaried servicemen and a good number people from different occupation are using this line.

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6‘Amaar Phone’ (Mobile to Mobile):

Personal use by mainly medium income consumers. Though not widely used but still this option is open for a group of people who just want mobile to mobile connection in low rate.

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‘Tellular’ (Fixed Wireless Telephone):

Commercial/Business use by commercial institutions and business organizations. This package has been mostly used in village area, but recently we have seen that in city area many people using this service for mobile to mobile business because of low rate. High frequency antenna help the FWT sets to reach signals beyond the service area.

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Pre Paid Packages

The new-generation subscribers are very interested with this service. It is also helpful for limited income group of people. ‘Aalap’ pre-paid card is available everywhere and this service provides flat rate and nation wide roaming. A very significant edge that CityCell pre-paid packages have over other pre-paid packages from other companies is the package that features T & T incoming and outgoing. Other benefits for the subscriber:

 

  • SMS facility and other value added services
  • Scratch card in a variety of denominations (e.g. Tk. 300, Tk. 400 and Tk. 550)
  • Know the balance by dialing *811

‘Aalap 24’ (Mobile to Mobile with T & T Facilities):

Aalap 24 is mobile-to-mobile as well as mobile-to-BTTB package. This plan gives subscribers –

  • Access to any mobile in Bangladesh
  • 24-hour BTTB connectivity
  • 24-hour NWD and ISD facility
  • Very attractive and simple tariff plan
  • Freedom to choose 3 CityCell numbers and make calls at 50% reduced tariff under One2One scheme.

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‘Aalap B’ (Mobile to Mobile):

In this option customer will have only mobile to mobile facility. This option is offering pre-paid mobile in a low rate. This plan gives the subscriber –

  • Access to any mobile in Bangladesh
  • Lower tariff especially at peak period
  • Freedom to choose 1 CityCell number and make calls at 50% reduced tariff under One2One scheme.

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Aalap Call Me

Aalap Call Me is a full BTTB connectivity package with the unique and innovative call2cash feature. This plan gives the subscriber –

  • Access to any mobile in Bangladesh
  • 24-hour BTTB local/NWD/ISD connectivity
  • Under the call2cash feature Aalap Call Me subscrivers will get Tk. 0.25 added to their account every minute when they receive calls from other CityCell phones
  • Freedom to choose up to 3 Ci`tyCells number and make calls at 50% reduced tariff under One2One scheme
  • CityCell to CityCell SMS at a reduced rate of Tk. 1.50

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Technology Comparison: AMPS, CDMA and GSM

AMPS:

The most commonly used cellular system in North America, the Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS) had also gained widespread acceptance in Asia (specially in Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, etc). An analogue system, this was introduced in the mid 80s and used a technique known as Frequency Division Multiple Access (FDMA) to allocate Channels. Thus it divides its entire allocation in sections of 30 KHz and uses each of these sections as channel. Thus AMPS is able to provide 30 channels per 1MHz of frequency allocated. The principal behind AMPS is analogous to dividing up a large hall room (the entire frequency allocated to the operator) into a number of smaller rooms (channel) once the first pair has completed their conversation and left the room (disconnected).

Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA):

Code Division Multiple Access is a system in which a subscriber uses the entire frequency for the entire period that his phone is active.  Installing of segregating users by frequency (FDMA) or time (TDMA) this technology segregates customers by coding the signals in such a manner that each customer decrypts only one signal at any one signal at any given time. This would be similar to allowing a large number of people into the hall room, but requiring each pair to converse in a different language. Thus while everyone would hear everyone else, this would just be more of background noise rather than interference. On the other hand, each person would be able to understand this partner, because they would be speaking the same language. One of major differences between CDMA and the other existing technologies is in terms of frequency reuse. Using CDMA an operator would use the entire allocated frequency in every cell.  The reuse pattern, therefore, is in effect a ‘one cell reuse pattern’.  Therefore, the operator can serve may more customers per unit of allocated bandwidth compared to either AMPS of GSM. In general, CDMA capacity is rated to be 10 to 20 times higher then analogue techniques such as AMPS,  and 3 to 5 times higher than other digital cellular technologies such as GSM.

GSM:

GSM stands for “Global System for Mobile Communications.” It is mostly a European system and is largely unused in the US. Introduced in the mid-80s, the Global System for Mobile (GSM) Communications is a digital cellular used extensively in Europe and Asia. GSM is interesting in that it uses a modified and far more efficient version of TDMA. GSM keeps the idea of timeslots and frequency channels, but corrects several major shortcomings. Since the GSM timeslots are smaller than TDMA, they hold less data but allow for data rates starting at 300 bits per second. Thus, a call can use as many timeslots as necessary up to a limit of 13 kilobits per second. When a call is inactive (silence) or may be compressed more, fewer timeslots are used. To facilitate filling in gaps left by unused timeslots, calls do “frequency hopping” in GSM. This means that calls will jump between channels and timeslots to maximize the system’s usage. To compare with the other systems, it should be noted that GSM requires 1 Watt of output power from the phone.

Advantages of CDMA:

There are numerous advantages of using CDMA technology, the most important of which are:

 

(a) Higher Capacity: Since CDMA makes more efficient use of the available spectrum, it can provide greatly increased capacity. CDMA capacity is rated to be 10 to 20 times higher than other analogue techniques such AMOPS, and 3 to 5 time higher that other digital cellular techniques such as GSM. With higher capacity, CDMA accommodates higher demands and supports new digital services such as data transmission and mobile fixing.

(b) Simplified Planning: CDMA allows system planning to become much easier through the use of the same frequency in every sector of every cell. As the entire frequency is used in each cell, operators do not have to retune base stations, thus capacity expansion is quicker and simpler.

(c) Better Voice and Call Quality: The unique encoding scheme used foe each different CDMA conversation virtually eliminates cross-talk and dramatically reduces the impact of interference from other sources. Also, The larger bandwidth of CDMA signals (the signals use the entire frequency versus only a portion for competing technologies) means that they are less prone to fading compared to the narrower bandwidths of AMPS and GSM.

(d) Enhanced Security and Privacy: Since the signals are coded, it is very difficult to intercept and decode a CDMA signal. This prevents eavesdropping and prohibits cloning and other types of fraud. Also, due to the wider bandwidth, such phones are difficult to jam.

CDMA vs. GSM: A Technical Comparison

Advantages of CDMA:

  • Increased cellular communications security
  • Simultaneous conversations, less call drops, stronger network
  • Increased efficiency, meaning that the carrier can serve more subscribers
  • Low power requirements and little cell-to-cell coordination needed by operators
  • Extended reach – beneficial to rural users situated far from cells
  • Smaller phone sets

Disadvantages of CDMA:

  • Due to its proprietary nature, all of CDMA’s flaws are not known to the engineering community for solving
  • CDMA is relatively new, and the network is not as mature as GSM
  • CDMA cannot offer international roaming, a large GSM advantage

Advantages of GSM:

  • GSM is already used worldwide with over 500 million subscribers
  • International Roaming permits subscribers to use one phone throughout Western Europe CDMA will work in Asia, but not popular European destinations
  • GSM is mature, having started in the mid-80s. This maturity means a more stable network with robust features. CDMA is still building its network
  • The availability of Subscriber Identity Modules, which are smart cards that provide secure data encryption give GSM e-commerce advantages

Disadvantages of GSM:

  • Lower voice clarity
  • Less security for subscribers
  • Frequent call drops
  • Higher number of carriers/base stations required

Introduction to the Project

The topic of my internship project is “The prospect of discount services and loyalty program under the customer retention scheme of CityCell”.

I have worked under the Value Added Service (VAS) division of the Sales & Marketing Department for past three months.

During this period I had been assigned to create as many valued business partners as possible for the discount services to be offered to a certain section of the subscribers in order to retain customers of the telecom operator. My other responsibilities included maintaining various documents including Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) papers, creating amendments if and when necessary, regular update of relevant data and synchronizing information within CityCell and its new partners.

Significance of the Study

Though PBTL was the company which first brought cellular service in this subcontinent, it could not be the market leader in the telecom industry, as of now. The growth rate of the company is slow. The subscriber base might suggest the company is already in the 4th position among the 4 active mobile competitors. From my point of view, it is the technology which is not popular in this part of the world. CDMA technology is the latest technology for mobile communication but maybe too advanced for this market. But apart from the technology if an operator provides quality service (network, customer care, VAS), offers some attractive packages, and takes initiatives for the subscribers, it is possible to be the market leader.

 

This is where the other mobile operators have started to work effectively in a greater extent. After the entry of banglalink (Orascom Bangladesh Telecom Ltd.), the telecom market has become volatile with existing subscribers are migrating vigorously at the reduction of call rates and introduction of attractive packages. Some operators have been seeing their subscriber base increase exponentially while others are wistfully watching theirs decrease. In view of these, CityCell has decided to launch a customer retention plan for its loyal and dedicated subscriber base.

 

Therefore I have found it challenging to be involved in a work from which the company can benefit. Through my survey I have tried to find about the discount service acceptability among respondents, the customer switching pattern and the satisfaction/dissatisfaction criterions among the existing CityCell subscribers. I have also worked on possible avenues on which CityCell can work further to offer attractive benefits to its loyal subscribers. Through my findings and analyses I believe it would be easier for the company to take decisions about the areas they have to reshape or develop regarding their customer retention plan.

Objectives

Broad Objective

 To have an in-depth analysis into the prospect of the Customer Retention Scheme of CityCell

Specific Objectives

  • To conduct a competitor and industry analysis of the telecom market and present its potentials
  • To assess PBTL’s current state of operation and future direction
  • To carry out a SWOT analysis of CityCell
  • To find out the satisfaction level of the subscribers
  • To trace the specific areas where the subscribers are dissatisfied
  • To identify the customer switching pattern and ways to retain them
  • To evaluate the loyalty program offered by the operator under its customer retention scheme
  • To look into the discrepancies of the discount service to be launched for its loyal and high-end users

Hypothesis

My hypothesis is, “Although PBTL brought ‘CityCell’ as the first mobile telecommunication service in the subcontinent, its customers are not fully satisfied with the service. If PBTL does not take care of these dissatisfactions, it will be difficult for PBTL to retain its subscribers, thus maintain its position and increase its market share.”

Methodology

The topic of my project is ‘The prospect of discount services and loyalty program under the customer retention scheme of CityCell’.

Data Collection Method: In my study I have mainly depended on primary data, which have been collected through direct and phone survey.

 Questionnaire pattern: I have developed my questionnaire (enclosed in the Appendix) mainly focusing on the discount service acceptability among respondents, the customer switching pattern and the satisfaction/dissatisfaction criterions among the existing CityCell subscribers. I have also worked on possible avenues on which CityCell can work further to offer attractive benefits to its loyal subscribers. It is a mixed open & close-ended questionnaire that consists of 17-odd questions.

 Population: Since I was trying to assess the satisfaction level of various factors of the company, rate of acceptability of various possible benefits and the discount service options, I have surveyed the CityCell subscribers only.

Sample Size: The sample size has been 80.

 Sampling Method: Data collection has been done based on convenient random sampling through means of telephone and in the premises of CityCell dealer outlets where customers visit to buy new sets and connections.

Secondary Research: I have also collected data and necessary information from the VAS (Value Added Service) & the Customer Care department.

Findings & Analysis: The results of the survey have been represented through bar and pie charts. My research findings came out through analyzing those data.

Limitations of the Study

Some limiting factors were faced while conducting the research and preparing the report. These factors are as follows:

 

  • No prior research has been done on this particular issue. The loyalty project is an experiment to retain customers which is in its initial phase; the privilege service for high-end users has not yet been launched. So the information presented and data collected is very raw.

 

  • The findings and analysis are based on the results conducted from 80 respondents only. Due to the data collection method (random sampling) and non-availability of loyal/high-end subscribers, their opinions have not been reflected in the survey. Therefore it is not a perfectly representative sample.

 

  • The sample that used to conduct the survey is mostly from Dhaka division. So concerns on some issues such as network, may contain some biasness.

 

  • Moreover, it has not been possible to get all required internal information of the company as these are treated as confidential company information.

Bargaining power of Suppliers:

Bargaining power of suppliers is high because:

  1. Suppliers provide CDMA sets that cannot be found easily from many suppliers
  2. Suppliers do not depend solely on CityCell for significant portion of sales
  3. Products are not differentiated. However this has little effect on over-all supplier power
  4. PBTL cannot vertically integrate backwards as it does not have the capability to produce hardware whereas the primary suppliers may buy a majority stake in PBTL

Bargaining power of Buyers:

Bargaining power of buyers is comparatively low under certain conditions:

  1. Tellular customers have significantly low bargaining power because of the high cost of procurement of a Tellular set. They have to rely on PBTL for spare parts and other help.
  2. Users of low cost packages may switch from CityCell to other packages but only at a certain cost: that of cost of purchase. In many cases it is seen that such customers run up bills equivalent to or above their credit limit then abandon their CityCell number. In such cases the buyer’s bargaining power is higher.
  3. In cases of packages like CityCell 500/1000 buyers have significantly less purchasing power because of the high deposits paid to PBTL (Tk 2,500 for local T&T connections, additional Tk 2,500 for NWD and Tk 10,000 for ISD connections). This significant amount of investment means that customers cannot shift easily from one company to another.

Potential competitors:

Let us look at the potential competitor’s scenario from the barriers to entry perspective:

  1. Brand loyalty: Due to decreasing performance and slow progress in expansion of network, CityCell packages inspire less brand loyalty than before. However potential new entrants to the industry will be deterred by the high brand loyalty to Grameen packages. Essentially it is believed that the total potential market has been fulfilled by as much as three fourths. Thus leaving a very small segment of customers for new entrants to gain. High brand loyalty to Grameen and the die-hard users of the other three companies: Orascom, CityCell & Aktel ensures that potential entrants will be strongly discouraged by the high brand loyalty in current markets.
  2. Absolute cost advantages & economies of scale: Current players have a more or less absolute cost advantage because they have already invested in telecom infrastructure and have recouped their investments. New companies will have to invest in equipment and will take considerably greater time to cover initial equipment-purchase expenses. Considering the size of the four companies already operating and the size of their investments, they will not take kindly to an upstart in the industry and may use as many competitive options as possible – price strategy, quality – to retain an upper hand.
  3. Distribution channel: Another major barrier to entry is the access to distribution channels. With four companies competing in the current market environment, the distributors of mobile phones are becoming very limited. Moreover, many retailers will not want to carry more lines of mobile phone packages as they have to sell the ones they already have. Thus any increase in the number of companies will cannibalize into current sales.
  4. Governmental regulations: In Bangladesh, the telecommunications market is still own by the state-owned BTTB. They are thinking of entering the mobile phone market. Thus they will not take kindly to new companies entering the industry. This may make them influence the government to introduce new legislation designed to restrain the business activities of new companies.

Threat of substitute products:

For CityCell the threat of substitute products is very real. Many customers prefer to use Grameen Phone above that of CityCell primarily for the network reach. There are also a number of other factors that make CityCell vulnerable to this aspect of the five forces method of analysis.

However we should note that in case of packages are used for commercial use, CityCell has a significant hold over customers. In case of Tellular packages, the rates being so low, many clients prefer to stick with their CityCell Tellular sets even after experiencing technical and network problems. Moreover as the initial purchase of a CityCell Tellular set constitutes a significant investment – around Tk 50,000 all inclusive – an owner of a Tellular set cannot easily substitute his or her product.

Threat of New Entrants:

The entry barriers to this industry  are very high as the government controls the licensing arrangements, and also the existing operators has made sufficient inroads into the market. This will strongly discourage new entrants into the market although the government has decided to give a few new licenses.

Competitor Analysis

The mobile telecommunications industry in Bangladesh is now in its rapid growth stage. Since the technology is expensive, there are only four companies operating actively the mobile service. The other three companies are, Grameen Phone, AKTel, and Orascom Telecom. BTTB with its brand, ‘Tele-talk’ has also very recently entered this competitive scenario.

As operators of mobile cellular services, Aktel, Grameen Phone and Banglalink are direct competitors of CityCell. The PBTL license was issued in 1989. The three other license were awarded during November 1996, and are identical to each other, however the licenses awarded to Aktel, Grameen  and Sheba (now Banglalink) for their mobile cellular networks differ in some aspects from the license that PBTL holds.

The most significant differences are:

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Grameen Phone Limited:

Grameen Phone Ltd. (GP) is the current market leader in terms of market share, which is owned by a consortium of investors comprising of Grameen Telecom and Telenor (Norwegian state owned telecommunication company, owning nearly 65% of total shares). GP is using the GSM technology to provide mobile cellular services to about 3.4 million subscribers in Bangladesh.  The company started its service in March 26, 1997.

Grameen Phone’s basic strategy is coverage of both urban and rural areas. In contrast to the “island” strategy followed by some companies, which involves connecting isolated islands of urban coverage through transmission links, the company has been building continuous coverage, cell after cell. So far, GP has installed more than 2000 BTS’s around the country for cell to cell coverage. Grameen Phone has the widest coverage in Bangladesh. The company is planning to increase the network coverage to 80% of the population from the current 57% within this year.

AKTel (TMIB):

Telecom Malaysia International (Bangladesh) is a joint venture between Telecom Malaysia and A K Khan & co. TMIB also began operations in 1997 using the GSM technology. TMIB offers its mobile services under the brand name AKTEL. It operates as a Limited Liability Company, where the majority shareholder, Telekom Malaysia, own 70% shares, while minority shares of 30% are owned by A. K. Khan & Co. Bangladesh Limited. The company is now servicing around 1.8 million customers all over the country.

Aktel has been distinctly ahead in offering the “30 Seconds Pulse” from the first minute of talk time. Today, The company boasts the widest International Roaming service in the market connecting 315 operators across 170 countries. In addition, Aktel is the first mobile operator to connect Tetulia and Teknaf, the northern and southern most points of Bangladesh. Aktel was also the first to provide seamless coverage along the Dhaka-Chittagong highway. With a network covering all 61 (allowable) districts of Bangladesh, coupled with the first Intelligent Network (IN) Prepaid Platform in the country, Aktel is geared to provide a wide range of products and services to customers all over Bangladesh.

Banglalink (Orascom Telecom):

Orascom Telecom Bangladesh, an Egyptian multinational company with market presence in 11 countries (and market leader in 9 of them) launched their GSM network on the 10th of February 2005. This company is the last addition to the GSM family of the local market when on October 20th, 2004, Orascom Telecom announced the purchase of Sheba Telecom with a cost of US$ 60 million. The company’s re- branding has been under the name of Banglalink with the leveraging promise to provide the market with quality service at the most affordable prices fitting to their communications needs.

It is also worth mentioning that an unprecedented success of sales results followed the commercial launch of Banglalink in early this year. Orascom is currently serving around 400,000 subscribers.

16

Tele-talk (BTTB):

 

State-run Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) operates basic telecom services, national transmission network and overseas communication. It has a monopoly over interconnections and the international gateway, in which all other telecommunications operators depend on to connect to the fixed telephone lines and international calls. All phone operators are also subjected to a monopolistic control by BTTB that limits revenue sharing[1] arrangements. Just two and a half months back, BTTB had launched their much-awaited mobile phone, Tele-talk which has generated hype among the potential subscribers. As of now, Tele-talk has a small customer base of 40,000 with only T&T connectivity. But the major feature of this package is absolutely free incoming from BTTB which has strongly swayed the market in favor of the new package.



[1] Revenue Sharing refers to sharing of revenue collected by one company for a service co-produced by two.

Company and Industry life-cycle stage

Although revenues appear to be steady, PBTL is losing customers steadily (declining market share) and, thus is predicted that within the next few months, revenues will also start to decline. This has happened in an industry which may be relatively low-growth currently but in which many believe that should prices of usage be decreased slightly and the telecom sector further liberalized, it could grow significantly further.

 

Thus we may state the company to be having ‘question mark’ or ‘problem child’ status within the BCG matrix.

17

If we consider the situation in terms of the life cycle scenario, we are forced to say that, under current conditions, CityCell of PBTL is under the decline stage.

 

On the other hand, the industry life-cycle stage may be defined as a shake-out stage. The rate of growth has slowed as demand has approached saturation level under current conditions. Much of the demand for sets and packages are limited to replacement demand – both in terms of packages and also in terms of sets. This explains why PBTL is losing such a major portion of its customers many of them are leaving for more versatile and cheaper packages from other companies.

18

  • Bangladesh has one of the lowest tele-density in the world: lowest tele-density means huge potential to be tapped
  • Fixed Wired lines less viable option, wireless to drive growth
  • Potential demand of cellular is estimated to be 10%-14% of population
  • Potential demand  ranges from 14-20 M (Dec 2004)
  • Current subscriber number is approx 4 M
  • Untapped market is 10-16 M subscribers now

  • Quick & successful implementation of network capacity is the best strategy for growth & profitability

This requires – Substantial Investment, Innovation & Experience

19

SWOT Analysis of CityCell

SWOT Analysis is a very important tool for a company for a company to analyze its internal external environment. Now, we will see a SWOT analysis of CityCell.

Strengths:

  1. 1.      Competitive tariff structure: Price is a big competitive advantage for CityCell. CityCell is the only organization which is selling CDMA mobile phones with both way T&T facilities at the lowest rate. For example, the lowest package rate of CityCell is Tk 4,999/= with T&T incoming and outgoing facilities (‘Alaap Call Me’, pre-paid). With T&T facilities the other competitors are no where near CityCell. This package has a fantastic and a very innovative feature, Call2Cash, in which any subscriber of this package can ‘earn’ or collect 0.25 takas per minute in his/her pre-paid account upon receiving a call from any CityCell mobile.

 

  1. 2.      No ‘Busy Network’: Because of enormous number of channels, excess to CityCell mobile phones is very easy. The rate of call drops is very low. It possesses high quality voice and data transmissions.

 

  1. Advanced technology: CDMA technology is the best technology for telecommunication. World class mobile operators and world class mobile phone manufacturers are advancing to this new technology. CityCell is one of the few mobile service providers which are using CDMA technology. Where as other GSM mobile service provider has to make huge invest or will need time for transformation. Current CDMA 1X platform paves the way for easier migration to 3G technology

 

  1. Low Cost: CityCell follows low cost strategies that enables greater profit margin for shareholders. It tries to cut cost in every possible way to maximize the strengths for future battle.
  1. 5.      Dedicated & professional management team:  Dedicated core staffs who are willing to provide significant labor hours to accomplish targets.

Weakness:

  1. Fewer staff: The number of staffs working for CityCell is not enough at all. Far fewer staff than actually required in terms of tasks to be completed.

 

  1. New technology: CDMA is the latest technology but it is not widely used. A still more popular option is GSM. It is more difficult for CityCell to provide international roaming because of few number of CDMA operators around the globe.

 

  1. Low network coverage: Though CityCell started to provide mobile telecommunication ten years back, it is still in behind the other operators from the point of nationwide coverage. Grameen phone was able to use the optical fiber network of Bangladesh Railway through strong lobbying with the past government for the next twenty five years. That’s why Grameen Phone’s expansion has been huge, whereas CityCell has covered roughly 58 districts all over the country with a poor infrastructure.

 

  1. Lack of education: The subscribers are not educated enough to handle sophisticated CDMA mobile handsets effectively. That’s why proper knowledge is essential to handle these mobile sets.

Opportunities:

  1. Advanced technology: Since CDMA technology is the latest in the wireless telecommunication industry, it is yet to find new potential in the short future.

 

  1. Secured data transfer:  Secured data transfer means CityCell has the potential to be the leading player once e-commerce takes off.

 

  1. Overseas expansion plan: The growing need for across border telecom services at lesser cost (e.g. with neighboring India, Burma, then onto Thailand, etc) can be an opportunity for CityCell.

 

  1. Acquisition of Singtel: The acquisition of 45% equity stake of CityCell brings more opportunity for CityCell. The company now has greater capital and more budget to invest on its network facilities. In fact, of the $118 million investment of Singtel in PBTL, $90 million would be spent in network expansion plans[1].

 

  1. Leadership in telecommunication services: Bangladesh government has already started to provide license to private sectors to set up land phone. PBTL is the only mobile phone operator with nationwide mobile & fixed license. With full nationwide coverage and a huge capital investment from Singtel, it is possible to become the market leader for CityCell.


[1] The Daily Star, June 4, 2005

 

Threats:

  1. 1.      Technology factor: There is a high degree of acceptance of GSM technology over CDMA in local market.

 

  1. Legal problems: Tough legislation against easy expansion into regional and international markets bypassing the state owned BTTB.

 

  1. Newly imposed tax: In the fiscal budget proposed last week, the government has imposed a Tk. 1200 tax on each and every SIM/RUIM card which would hurt the regional expansion plans, increase of customer base in the lower segment and the profit motive for every operator including CityCell.

 

  1. New competitors: If new, international competitors like ‘Airtel’ of India enters the local market with full coverage and low price, then not only CityCell but also other mobile operators would be in great trouble. Already Orascom (Banglalink) is giving CityCell a run for its money and market share.

 

  1. Global companies: In India global companies like ‘AT&T’ of the United States and in Eastern Asia ‘Vodaphone’ of the United Kingdom is working well. They might think to enter Bangladesh with higher capital. If so, it will be a huge threat for CityCell.

 

  1. BTTB mobile phone: BTTB has already entered the mobile telecommunications industry (Tele-talk). It might carry unfair Government advantages and cause severe problems to all other mobile phone operators.

Assessment of CityCell’s current state and future direction

Current State of operations:

CityCell packages are focused to follow the company’s differentiation strategy. There area number of market segments into which CityCell’s potential and current customers can be divided. PBTL always strives to make each CityCell package released to be unique and noticed above that of the competition. They also try to attain distinctness in their sales and marketing strategy to make them seem like a unique, ‘blue-blooded’ mobile phone company. In order to do this, they have made a number of strategic choices which may set them as being different from other companies; they also handicap them in a significant manner.

 

The primary strategic choice that has affected them is such a manner is their choice of technology. Although CDMA technology is far in advance from other technologies, it has yet to gain a significant acceptability in Bangladesh. Thus what has happened is that there is a serious shortage of CDMA sets and, as knock-on, effect higher price of the sets that are available. Worse, many sets are simply lying around due to lack of spare-parts. Customers have to pay line rent for faulty or dead sets. Many customers are disconnecting their CityCell lines and buying cheaper packages from other companies. The detrimental effect this has had on operations is that PBTL is finding increasingly less room to maneuver and introduce new features in their service which will help them combat competition. This also means that they have to fight for survival rather than for dominance. Inherently, PBTL’s strategies appear to be more reactive than proactive.

A very important aspect of current operations is the severe effect that centralization of organization has on operations. The regional offices are responsible for handling phones only in that zone. There is a severe lack of coordination between the various regional offices which has a detrimental effect on customer satisfaction. Worse, the entries for each zone are done all on one floor in the head office at the vast majority of customers buying their sets directly from PBTL, it means that they are also dependent on PBTL for repairs and spare part needs. Thus the current staffs who work at repairs and servicing are severely overworked. This affects morale and employee satisfaction, reducing the efficiency of set-servicing process and thus has results in dissatisfied customers. In all PBTL is a company with immense potential, but it remains to be seen whether management can fully harness this potential. The potential is present in all the factors of operations:

 

1) The technology is very advanced and has immense potential

2) The labor factor is strong with some very capable staff

3) PBTL has sufficient capital to undertake infrastructure investments

4) There is still a significant portion of goodwill towards the company from its stakeholders

 

What PBTL needs to do now is to harness all these positive factors, negate the detrimental ones and move forward.

Future Direction of the Company:

CityCell appears to be moving towards a more customer oriented approach to its overall customer policy. Gone are the days when PBTL could dictate terms to its clients. These days PBTL has to spend an increasing amount of time covering its shortfalls and persuading customers to stay with them. This is especially worrying after what is perceived to be by many industry insiders a concerted effort by Grameen Phone to make headway into the corporate market – a domain that was once almost exclusively under PBTL. What PBTL is really looking for is a way by which it can seriously bounce back into dominant position. The primary reason for choosing CDMA is that they hope to be able to implement the  next generation (3G or CDMA 1x) mobile phone features such as voice conferencing, Internet, sending visual data, etc into their services. It remains to be seen how successful they are in harnessing the full power of CDMA technology.

 

There is also a proposal to decentralize their organization in order to be able to better serve their customers in the far reaching regions of the country. This means that many major functions will be spread out throughout the country divided according to customer regions. It is yet to be seen how much decentralization may occur, but it is a major issue under consideration. Then there is the sale of data link to corporate clients. This will gather significant revenue for the company as well as solidify its position with its corporate clients as their primary information transfer and telecom provider. The incongruities between the various tariff plans of the various packages are to be removed both to make it much easier for customers to budget usage and also to increase the value for money of each package.

Upcoming features of CityCell:

  • UTK (User Tool Kit)
  • International Roaming/ SMS
  • MMS (Multimedia Message Service)
  • MCRBT (Multimedia Color Ring Back Tone)
  • Infotainment
  • Internet Access@144 kbps
  • PTT (Push to Talk)
  • Electronic Top Up

Acquisition of SingTel:

Singapore Telecommunications Limited (SingTel) recently announced that it has invested US$118 million for a 45 per cent equity stake in Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Limited (PBTL).  In addition, SingTel has a call option to increase its equity interest in PBTL to 60 per cent for an additional US$65 million.  The option can be exercised between 1 April and 30 June 2007.

 

The recent investment made by SingTel has created a lot of options for the company. Everyone is expecting that network expansion and technology up gradation will occur at a fast pace. This is especially important if we consider the fact that slowly boundaries are opening and technologies are improving. GSM will give way to more advanced technologies like CDMA and there will soon be no national boundaries as defined in the telecom industry. If that happens and the telecom sector is further liberalized, then PBTL can look forward to increased growth and revenue.

2021

Strengths & Opportunities from SingTel:

  1. Equity injection of $90M (in phase 1) will give necessary thrust in aggressive expansion strategy of PBTL.
  2. A multinational corporate like SingTel as a major stakeholder will give enhanced access to funding.
  3. SingTel, as an international player, will provide incremental leverage over vendors (handsets, equipment).
  4. SingTel brings in 120 years of expertise – innovation, quality, efficiency, and corporate governance.
  5. PBTL with SingTel is better poised to capture the market potential & become the market leader.
  6. Benefit from seamless coverage across SingTel network in Asia and international access across the world for international roaming through its submarine & satellite network.

 

 Presenting the Survey Results

About the Respondents

2223

This bar chart represents more-or-less a normal distribution curve. Nearly 70% of the sample is between 21-40 years of age. Respondents are largely in service (as represented in the pie chart) or students. This means a good 30% of the sample fall into the youth segment.

24

Regarding CityCell subscribers

Q

Which is your first mobile phone – CityCell

47

Grameen

25

Aktel

6

Sheba

2

25

Results show that 42% of the respondents have switched from other operators to CityCell in the past 8 years or so. This question has tried to find out the level of dissatisfaction among the users of mobile phone in the market at present. About a half of the respondents have found other operators as not upto ‘standard’ or upto expectation. The next few questions aims at finding out about their (42% of the respondents’) switching pattern and why they’ve chosen CityCell or why the other 58% are still using CityCell.


 

 Q

How long have you been using –

a. A mobile

 

 

 

 

b. CityCell

 

Ans

a. 1 m – 1 yr

12

 

b. 1 m – 1 yr

23

 

 

 

 

a. 1 – 3 yrs

21

 

b. 1 – 3 yrs

31

 

 

 

 

a. 3 – 5 yrs

16

 

b. 3 – 5 yrs

18

 

 

 

 

a. 5 – 8 yrs

23

 

b. 5 – 8 yrs

8

 

 

 

 

a. More than 8 yrs

8

 

b. More than 8 yrs

0

Results show that 42% of the respondents have switched from other operators to CityCell in the past 8 years or so. This question has tried to find out the level of dissatisfaction among the users of mobile phone in the market at present. About a half of the respondents have found other operators as not upto ‘standard’ or upto expectation. The next few questions aims at finding out about their (42% of the respondents’) switching pattern and why they’ve chosen CityCell or why the other 58% are still using CityCell.

26

This graph reveals an interesting picture. The light-colored bars represent number of mobile-users while the corresponding dark-colored bars represent number of CityCell users. There are fewer mobile users from 1 month to 5 years, while more are using the mobile (other operators) for more than 5 years. On the contrary, more people are CityCell users from 1 month to 5 years while less people have been with CityCell for more than 5 years. Interestingly, there are no CityCell subscribers using this operator for more than 8 years! [Grammen Phone has been in the market for a little more than 8 years, while oddly enough CityCell has been operating for 12 years! So, even though a sample, where are the long-time users? ].

This trend may represent that CityCell users for more than 6-7 years have started to switch to other operators and/or that brand loyalty is low among users of this operator. Its about time that CityCell should be looking into its customer retention plans and loyalty programs in an effective manner.

Q

Why do you like/still use CityCell? OR, why have you switched to this operator?

27

This question has been put forward to the 42% of respondents who have switched to CityCell in the past 8 years or so and to that 58% of the sample who are still using CityCell. It is to be noted, out of this 58%, about 38% are CityCell users from 1 month to 3 years[1] only. So, basically this pie-chart represents a good opinion of the 42% switchers and of 20% of the CityCell ‘loyalists’, who have been using the brand for more than 5 years.

 

The sample has clearly mentioned as lower call rates being the most important reason (33%) of switching to [and also still using] CityCell. According to the data and trend, these switchings have taken place predominantly between the last 3 years or so. At that time, CityCell rates were the cheapest in the market, as suggested by the press advertisements. As of the present, the scenario would be revealed and discussed later on.

 

The second most important reason (28%) has been [good] connectivity to BTTB. Again, years back, CityCell has been the pioneer operator to offer both-way BTTB connectivity. This factor is still considered as a major feature of CityCell mobiles.

All the other reasons of this question go unheeded as below 7% of the sample have responded to them.



[1] Information analyzed from the previous table.

Q

Do you use any other connection besides CityCell?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No

47

 

 

 

 

Yes

33

 

 

28

This is quite alarming for any operator whose sample subscribers reveal that they are using another connection besides CityCell. Why is that? In which way is CityCell not being able to provide it all for its valued customers? What is it that other operators are providing more for which CityCell’s profits are being divided up? The following question may give an idea –

 

Q

If yes, which connection do you use and why?

 

Reasons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grameen

19

Network

16

 

 

 

 

Aktel

7

Network

6

 

 

 

 

Sheba/Banglalink

5

Free SMS

5

 

 

 

 

Tele-talk

2

T&T i/c free

2

 

Among the 33 of the 80 respondents who say they use another connection, 19 use GP for the single most important reason being strong/available network. The same features for Aktel, the second largest mobile operator now in the country. In other words, 67% of the respondents who use another connection besides CityCell do so because of the network.

 

Although findings later on will show that CityCell has satisfied its customers with access to BTTB and arguably the lowest billing rate, the previous findings has demonstrated that it has not been performing well to retain its subscribers in terms of providing a strong network solution.

Customer Retention Scheme: Loyalty Program

30

These are some of the benefits that may be offered to loyal/high-end users of CityCell. This is a feedback from the respondents who opine that discount call rate/line rent and exclusive customer care are three of the most elusive benefits that can be enjoyed. The privilege service to be introduced to the loyal/high-end users under the customer retention scheme, includes – exclusive customer care, an elite privilege card and special discounts to be enjoyed from various stores/shops/eating places, etc. All these benefits have received good appreciation from the respondents scoring above average for every case. 

 

Q

Do you plan to stay with CityCell in the next 6 months to 1 year despite the presence

 of other operators?

 

31

Another alarming data which says 45% of the CityCell subscribers may not continue with the operator and has a good possibility of switching. Again, this calls for rigorous customer retention plans.

32

A good point in this may be that about 45% of the respondents who say that they are going to stay with CityCell (58%) for the next 1 year or so, state the reason of image/being loyal with the operator. CityCell can certainly cash in on this customer behavior towards the operator and try its best to retain the other 45%. Once again the issue of network boils in as a good 65% of this 45% complains of this as the primary reason of not staying on with CityCell.

 

Q

If No/might not stay, would the mentioned benefits make you think not to switch to other operators?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes

21

 

 

 

 

 

No

13

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe

2

 

 

This question is in view of the benefits discussed one question earlier. In a surprise reaction, 60% of the respondents decided to change their minds to switch in the next 1 year or so if the mentioned benefits were to take effect. In reality, these benefits would not be for the general subscribers but for those who are CityCell’s long-term or high-end customers. But this response may suggest that the same may be applicable for those target subscribers. But 42% replied they would still switch to other operators. The next question is targeted towards these 15 respondents:

 

Q

If No/maybe, what would make you refrain from switching to other operators?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Network

10

 

 

 

 

 

Connectivity to mobile

2

 

 

 

 

 

Extent of discounts in outlets

1

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing would*

2

 

* No comments!!

 

80% of these 15 respondents cite the problems of network/connectivity as the factor of switching.
Customer Retention Scheme: Discount services for subscribers

3334

If one follows each of the colors carefully, one would notice quite some disparities among the expected and actual figures. For instance, shopping mall is the highest expected type of outlet to be enjoyed discount from, whereas, there has been only 4 of them covered under the discount scheme which is placed at no. 5 in the second table. The same goes for music & movie store (light blue), and gift/flower shops (dark brown) and hospitals (placed at no. 2 in the first table, but last in the second table!). Restaurants & fast food shops have well been taken care of.

Concerning CityCell

35 36

Respondents have cited good connectivity to BTTB (31%) and lower call rates (24%) as two of the major strengths of the company. On the other hand, worse network (26%), not standard handsets (20%) and bad connectivity to other mobiles (19%, which is again a representation of a weak network infrastructure), have been suggested as the three major weaknesses of CityCell. There is a mixed opinion regarding Customer care as 9% think of it as strength, while 11% terms it as a weakness for the company. Same goes for Value Added Services (VAS). A good 22 persons of 80 respondents have complained higher call rates as a weakness factor. This is a point to be concerned, as all along, call rates have been a strong case for the company.

 

37

The Customer Retention Scheme for CityCell Subscribers

scribers

Prologue

CityCell has planned to introduce “Trump Card” – a Privilege Service for its valued customers. This service would allow CityCell subscribers to avail different products and services at a reasonable discounted price from various renowned outlets [shops, restaurants, department stores, and other kind of service providers] all around the major cities of Bangladesh. The discount card service has been divided into four-tiers, depending on the monthly usage history of its valued customers:

 

      Platinum Card

      Gold Card

      Yo’ Card

      Virtual Discount Card (SMS Coupon)

 Objectives of the Privilege Service

The Privilege Service is aimed to have a profound effect on the company and its subscribers. The main objectives of this service are –

 

  • To retain customers and create loyalty
  • To create high-end users among existing subscribers
  • To give recognition to high revenue-generating & loyal users of CityCell
  • To increase revenue & ARPU[1] through possible increased bills and SMS activities
  • To provide an extra value to CityCell’s premium users built on the “Because We Care” theme.


[1] ARPU [Average Revenue per unit]

Target Audience

Between post-paid and pre-paid packages CityCell has segregated its customers into two major categories according to their time period and billing status:

 

  • § Long-term Customer
  • § High-end Customer

 

Long-term Customer: These are loyal post-paid subscribers who have been active with CityCell for a period of 5 years and above.

 

 

 

  • Active Since 1993 = 302 subscribers
  • Active Since 1994 = 241 subscribers
  • Active Since 1995 = 399 subscribers
  • Active Since 1996 = 706 subscribers
  • Active Since 1997 = 1,963 subscribers
  • Active Since 1998 = 1,035 subscribers
  • Active Since 1999 = 2,454 subscribers

 

 

  • Subscribers who have never been deactivated since 1995 or before that, have completed a decade or more (10-12 years) with CityCell. In view with this, these customers would be enjoying the Platinum privilege. This card is entitled to get the highest amount of discount among the tier. [Approx. 950 subscribers entitled according to data]
  • Active subscribers with CityCell since 1996-99, shall be enjoying the Gold privilege. Upon completion of their 10th year, subscribers in every tier shall be rewarded with Gold Card. For example, active subscribers since 1997 shall be completing their 10th year with CityCell on 2007. [Approx . 6,200 subscribers to be entitled from 2006 upto 2009]

 

High-end Customer:

  • Post-paid subscribers paying a monthly bill of over 5,000 Taka would be enjoying the Platinum privilege.
  • Post-paid subscribers paying a monthly bill between 2,500 and 5,000 Taka would be enjoying Gold privilege.
  • Post-paid/pre-paid subscribers who are among the youth segment of the population would be provided with the Yo card, coming free with a new package called ‘Aalap Call Me’. [This package is a full BTTB connectivity package with the unique and innovative ‘Call2Cash’ feature, where subscribers will get Tk. 0.25 added to their account every minute when they receive calls from other CityCell phones]
  • Post-paid/pre-paid subscribers paying a monthly bill of less than 2,500 and not among the youth segment, can avail the pioneering SMS Discount Coupon service. The Virtual Discount Card is a completely new discount idea through “SMS Discount Coupon”. This ‘virtual’ discount coupon can be availed by the subscriber upon typing the name of the shop/restaurant/hospital and sending the SMS to a designated number of CityCell. Upon receiving this, an SMS Coupon will be sent to the sender (both Post-paid and Pre-paid subscribers) through SMS with a text containing the validity period of the coupon. The ‘Coupon’ may have the following message to the sender and the participating outlet:

‘Welcome to … [name of oulet], you can enjoy …% discount. This is valid for today […date] only. Thank you.’

Competition

There are similar privilege discount cards like, Djuice Xtra Khatir Card by Grameen Phone and another discount card by Aktel (Not yet launched).

IMC (Integrated Marketing Communications) Options

The main role of the Trump card advertising would be to give the customer a feeling of being exclusive. Various promotional activities would be undertaken a few days/weeks from the date of launch (date of launching yet to be decided).

  • §  Personalized letters mailed to the targeted subscribers along with the Trump Card.
  • Newspaper advertisements in major dailies would be a medium to aware the possibilities of the   Trump Card as well as to promote the partners.
  • A booklet-styled or a 3/4-fold brochure would also be distributed to the target market.
  • Various Branding/Promotional materials would be placed in different outlets for maximum visibility and clarification to subscribers-cum-shoppers.

Branding/Promotional Materials

  • Cards
  • Flyers
  • Stands
  • Posters
  • Stickers
  • Danglers
  • Brochures
  • Catalogues
  • Display Items

Design Theme

  • § The Platinum card will get the highest amount of discount from the merchants. The card would reflect the idea of being the most exclusive and precious.
  • § The Gold card will get slightly less discount than the platinum card, but it should not give the customer the impression of being less important.
  • § The Yo card would have a funky look with lot of colors to appeal to the youth generation.

 Benefits

Benefit to Customer/Cardholder:

  • Feeling of being honored and privileged
  • Discounts from various outlets: reduced expenses in purchasing goods and services
  • Participation in different activities/events organized by CityCell
  • Exclusive service at CityCell Front Desk & Customer Care (For Platinum & Gold Card-holders only)

Benefit to outlets/valued business partners:

Such introduction of discount cards would have a direct positive impact on the sales of CityCell’s participating product and service partners. The decision of the amount of discount provided rests solely on the outlets. The attractive discount offers are sure to increase visit frequency of the subscribers to the participant’s outlets. An obvious point to mention is that CityCell has a rich portfolio of 4,50,000 eligible subscribers to be registered for these privilege card/coupon services. This is also an opportunity to enhance the participant’s business revenue by ensuring a higher sales volume through participating in the Privilege Card Services of CityCell.

  • Direct Promotion
  • Increased Customer Flow
  • Higher Sales Volume
  • Affiliation effect with a larger and a more widely-branded organization

 

Activities from CityCell’s end for the outlets:

 

  • Press campaign
  • Press advertisements in leading national dailies
  • Separate promotional brochure to be delivered to all the CityCell subscribers
    • Supply of Branding/Promotional materials to the participant’s outlet(s)
    • Display of outlets’ logo in the SMS coupon

    Benefit to CityCell

    • Retention of customers
    • Lower ‘Customer Discontinuation Rate’
    • Increased loyalty among existing customers
    • Improved customer relationship & corporate image
    • § Increased Brand-visibility through POS materials at outlets
    • High self exposure through CityCell’s high-end & loyal users
    • Increased revenue through possible increased bills and SMS activities
    • § Relation of Trump Card with Customer Retention & Loyalty:

     

    • Existing customers would prefer to continue their subscription for the added benefits
    • Discontinued customers can be pushed to restore their subscription
    • Customer Retention Team can use the Card as an added tool
    • Cardholders will be able to participate in various programs/events using their cards

     

    • § Increased revenue with Trump Card:

     

    • § Cardholders will try to keep up their usage to maintain eligibility
    • § Subscribers who lack eligibility for a nominal amount (minimum Taka 2,500 per month) will try to increase usage to achieve eligibility of holding a card, resulting an increase in revenue
    • § New subscribers will be tempted to achieve eligibility of holding a card, resulting another increase in revenue
    • § Non-card holders shall be availing the Virtual Discount Coupon through SMS usage thus increasing revenue collection through VAS (Value Added Service)

     

    • § Issues with Strategic Partners:

     

    Complementary Trump Cards can be distributed to strengthen relationship with key strategic partners of CityCell.

     

    • § Benefit to employees of CityCell:

     

    Employees of CityCell shall be provided with a Trump Card (Platinum or Gold, depends on management hierarchy), through which they would be able to enjoy similar benefits as the high-end subscribers. This would also add to their job satisfaction and motivation.

Extent of Coverage of Trump Card Business Partners

  • § Dhaka:

 

 

  • Restaurant                            39
  • Fast Food Shop                    24
  • Clothes/Fashion House      15
  • Hotels & Rest House          11
  • Gift/Flower Shop                 5
  • Shopping Mall                      4
  • Saree & Gold House           4
  • Beauty Care Centre            4
  • Billiard & Pool Centre         3
  • Sports Store                          2
  • Furniture                House                   2
  • Book Stores & Music          2
  • Digital Security                     1
  • Education [Coaching]        1
  • Manufacturing                     1
  • Dry Cleaner                          1
  • Bakery                                   1
  • Cyber Café                           1
  • Sweetmeat Shop                  1
  • Hospital & Clinic                 1             

Total                                      123

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

  • § Chittagong:
  • Restaurant                            15
  • Hotel                                      7
  • Fashion & Music                                 3
  • Furniture House                   2
  • Fitness & Swimming           2
  • Cyber Café                           1
  • Diagnostic Center                                1
  • Super Shop                           1

Total                                      32

 

  • § Sylhet:
  • Hotel, Restaurant & Fast Food                         7
  • Dress, Handicraft & Saree                                 7
  • Sport                                                                      3
  • Electronics, Cyber Café & Computer                              2
  • Departmental & Super Store                             2
  • Jewelry & Gift Shop                                            2
  • Travel Agency                                                      1
  • Others                                                                    1

Total                                                                      25

 

 § Khulna:

  • Hotel, Restaurant & Fast Food                         7
  • Fashion                                                                  3
  • Shopping Mall                                                      1

Total                                                                      11

 

§ Rajshahi:

  • Hotel, Restaurant & Fast Food                         4
  • Hospital & Clinic                                                 1
  • Shopping Mall                                                      1
  • Beauty Care                                                         1

Total                                                                      7

 

Grand Total              198    

38

39

40

SWOT Analysis of the Privilege Services of CityCell

 

  • § Strengths

 

  • § Previously launched in July 2002 so the brand name is well-established
  • § Only loyalty card in the industry that covers all classes of customers
  • § Launching with 198 Signed Merchants
    • GP has launched XTRA Card with 15 merchants only
    • § Merchants in 5 major cities
    • § 4 Tier Discount Cards
    • § Exclusive Cards for Post-paid Subscribers
    • § Continuous Effort to increase Merchants

 

  • § Weaknesses

 

  • § Less than 35,000 (lowest subscriber base) eligible Post-paid Privilege card holders in launching phase
  • § No full-time dedicated employee to maintain and run the program

 

  • § Opportunities:

 

  • § Introduction of “Points” System on card usage
  • § Introduction of Branding Activity through the signed Merchants/participants
  • § Other merchants may and will be interested in carrying the card once they see how it attracts traffic
  • § Nationwide coverage (future)

 

  • § Threats

 

  • § Introduction of Competitor’s Privilege Card
    • GP already launched XTRA Card through “djuice”, may go for increasing merchants and merchant loyalty by offering extra-privileges to them.
    • AKTEL is actively working on launching Privilege Cards which would be launched any time soon.
    • § Merchants’ non-cooperation in entertaining the discount cards can result in a bad impact on the brand and   organization

Recommendation

I have designed my recommendations concerning the ‘Customer Retention Scheme’, aiming to help improve CityCell in retaining its customers. I have also tried to present recommendations about current weaknesses of the company and about various factors of dissatisfaction among the existing subscribers. My recommendations are:

 

È  The Privilege Services of the Customer Retention Scheme of CityCell should be launched as soon as possible as ‘djuice’ of Grameen Phone has already started to saturate a certain segment of the market through its ‘X-tra Khatir Card’. As first-movers advantage, GP has already secured a confident berth ahead of CityCell.

 

È  The types and numbers of discount outlets brought under the Discount Service scheme should seriously be reconsidered and restructured following a more extensive survey. My research clearly shows a gap between customers’ expectations and outlets already brought under the discount service.

 

È  There are a few benefits mentioned in the questionnaire, such as discount call rates, discount line rents, etc. which have received quite an applause from the respondents. A few more creative and worthy benefits [appreciated by the loyal subscribers and cost-effective for CityCell] can be brought into the pipeline and introduced as benefits for the loyal customer faction.

 

È  Privilege Services for the subscribers is not the only means by which CityCell can afford to retain its loyal customers. Immediate and effective solutions should be taken in terms of its weak areas as pointed out by the respondents.

 

È  CityCell needs quick expansion in network development all over Bangladesh if it wants to keep its customers to stay with it. If there is any other provider with same options with country wide network (and there is!), it will be a disaster for CityCell. Already customers have been switching to other operators as their second option as a result of their poor network infrastructure.

 

È  Although CityCell has ‘lower call rates’ associated with its brand name, other operators have already come up with various attractive packages and options such as, My Time, My Choice, [GrameenPhone], 10 second pulse and BTTB incoming free for the 1st minute for all pre-paid subscribers [Aktel], double talk-time for a single prepaid card [Banglalink]. So there should be more initiatives and striking benefits for their subscribers a la its loyal & high-end users.

È  The Value Added Service (VAS) department should be coming up with more ideas to entertain its customers. This department has its potential but should be using it to the fullest to provide even more useful services to cater to customers’ needs and wants.

 

È  Customer Care has turned out to be one of the most focused points in the telecom industry. Survey results show subscribers expect a lot out of it and would appreciate special care facilities. Therefore the ‘Call Center’ should be open to all kinds of queries of the customers. The number of helpline officers should be appropriate in order to reduce the queue where the customers would be waiting on line. CityCell can initiate a number training programs or psychological courses to train the officers and executives of the ‘Front office’ and ‘Direct Sales’.

 

È  Availability of quality handsets is a major and growing concern among CityCell subscribers. may go for strategic alliance with Mobile phone manufacturer like LG Electronics, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Audiovox Corporation or Hyundai or other CDMA phone manufacturer to have technical support and for availability of various CDMA sets.

Conclusion

I would like to start the conclusion part by restating the hypothesis of my study. My hypothesis was “Although PBTL brought ‘CityCell’ as the first mobile telecommunication service in the subcontinent but its customers are not fully satisfied with the service. If PBTL does not take care of these dissatisfactions and another company enters the market with similar offers, it will be difficult for PBTL to retain its subscribers, thus maintain its position and increase its market share”.

From the analysis of the survey results, it is clear that CityCell’s subscribers are dissatisfied about different services of the company. Moreover, the analysis indicated that the subscribers are not quite loyal to the company. Some of the respondents have clearly pointed that if CityCell does not work on its weaknesses, they will not hesitate to switch. So, my hypothesis proves to be a valid one. I firmly believe that if CityCell follows my recommendations, it will be able to achieve a sustainable distinctive competitive advantage and to run smoothly with loyal subscribers & market leadership.

 

 

 

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