This morning, I got a call from UTL’s m-sente (UTL’s mobile money service) marketing officer. She called my mobile using their office line 0414695258. She talked like a robot, and I did not like the approach. Here she is:
“Good morning Sir. Is this Mr. Mugisa. I am calling from UTL. Thank you for using UTL network. I am calling you to use m-sente. You can now use it to pay Dstv, UMEME and National Water. Is there anything which has been stopping you from using m-sente.?”
Here is how I replied:
“Yes. There are many for not using m-sente. First, your other services are very bad. We use your internet in office. When it expires, you just cut it off. Why can UTL send reminders say a week in advance just as Dstv or MTN does? You are in communications business, you could send a reminder SMS or email. And why not give me a discount when I renew my Internet with m-sente? Why give discounts when I use m-sente to renew Dstv or Umeme? I use MTN Mobile money and I am very comfortable with them for those payments and money transfer.”
The young lady on the other side could not take it. She just hang up.
I got UTL line in 2000, when I bought my first phone, and it has been with me since. I cannot say it has been a good experience.
Today, I use MTN for business communication and it makes business easier. It is a network of choice. The give solutions that work.
Now UTL wants to push their m-sente product without a clear strategy.
If I were them, the first thing to do is to leverage their m-sente on their products and services. They need to encourage and promote aggressively discounts to their customers who use m-sente to pay for their products and services. Once customers get that experience, then they can be encouraged to pay for other services like utilities via m-sente. That is strategy.
It appears UTL has got a reality shock: their customers are fewer than what they expected before SIM card registration. And they are using their database (now that it has names and faces) to call customers.
You need to first get the top customers together, then you can sell to them. Until that is done, UTL has a long way to go.
You cannot succeed without applying your own strategy.
I don’t whether UTL has one.
A case in point:
On Friday, I visited Orange’s Expo at UMA show ground. There was no parking, so I made some rounds, until I found a free parking space in front of a shop that was branded with UTL colors.
I peeped inside and indeed found that it is a UTL shop.
Unfortunately, the shop was empty. It looked like an abandoned shop. There was no sign of activity or business. I could not see any phone or mobile gadget on display. It was clear that UTL’s distribution strategy is wanting.
Add the fact that the top two distributors are no longer exclusive to UTL, you get the picture. Airtime franchisees will not be exclusive to your products unless they can sustain the business. Whenever demand is low, your air time franchisees will want to sell products of another telecom so as to recover their costs.
By contrast, MTN’s franchisees have remained loyal to MTN products alone. They have done the same thing with MTN mobile money agency. You can only deal in MTN Mobile Money at your shop. Failure of the dealers to break this rule means that they benefit from the relationship. Remember, telecom business is one of volume or numbers. And MTN has them.
UTL has failed to fix their distribution.
They seem to be following the market instead of setting their own market. And when they see MTN, Orange and Airtel pushing mobile money, they want to follow suit.
Please, UTL, first get on the strategic table. Otherwise, you will be everywhere, but nowhere.