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Interview: Matthew Fane of TELUS on WiFi guarantees and profitability

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According to recent research, about 91% of modern consumers primarily use WiFi to access their internet services—and to ensure these consumers can make the most of these services, service providers have taken to offering guarantees for WiFi performance.

Unfortunately, it’s still a minority of service providers who offer any sort of WiFi guarantee. And in many cases, those guarantees only consider how an ISP will resolve an issue when it happens—not what that service provider can do to prevent issues in the first place.

Recently, we sat down with Matthew Fane, Senior Technical Product Leader at TELUS, to talk about this growing trend.

You might recall that we spoke with Fane in a recent event we hosted with Wi-Fi NOW. For this conversation, we wanted to home in on the challenges TELUS has faced in home internet, the new approach to WiFi support for ISPs that they’re helping to pioneer, and how they expect that to change WiFi conversations both for the TELUS team and customers alike.

So let’s get started.

First things first. Tell us a bit about TELUS and your role there.

I am responsible for product at TELUS; specifically, internet and home connectivity product innovation. Our key business priority is to deliver the fastest, most reliable internet solutions to our customers—and my team focuses predominantly on evolving and improving the WiFi experience. It’s so core to customers’ everyday work, social connectivity, and entertainment—so it’s incredibly satisfying to work on.

What’s the biggest challenge TELUS faces in the home internet space?

I’d say our biggest challenge in the home internet space is the continued extension of how we define our services since WiFi has evolved. Customers understandably cite internet issues when something isn’t working as expected, regardless of the root cause—but as the complexity of (and dependence on) WiFi networks has grown, so has the likelihood that WiFi is the culprit for the symptom a customer is experiencing.

That challenge has been exacerbated both by the increasing numbers of WiFi devices in the home and the bandwidth needs of those devices. Five years ago, many of our customers only had a handful of WiFi-connected devices; now, they have dozens scattered throughout their homes, and that one security camera on the far corner of an external wall needs 4K-quality bandwidth to perform at its best.

Let’s talk about your new Wi-Fi Plus service. What’s the idea behind it?

With Wi-Fi Plus, we’re trying to fundamentally change how customers think about WiFi coverage. Rather than trying to sell pods, which may or may not be what the customer actually needs, we’re taking a service-oriented, consultative, and tailored approach right from the start of the customer journey.

With this service, customers and sales agents won’t need to guess how many pods they’ll need upfront and risk service issues if they pick the wrong number or install the pods in the wrong location. Instead, we’ll assess the customer’s unique needs for WiFi, and our team of professionals will ensure we’re properly installing the right equipment to meet those needs.

Additionally, as part of the service, if the customer does experience issues in the future, our WiFi experts will diagnose the problem and identify if the symptom is the result of a change in the WiFi environment or something else.

How do you expect this service will change the experience your customers have with TELUS?

We hope this change will significantly reduce the complexity of home WiFi for our customers, both in terms of their experience with the sales journey and their experience with support.

Let’s talk economics. Are you expecting to see any changes in your overall operational expenses thanks to this new service?

We’re expecting to see a few changes in the cost dynamic with this offering. Of course, there’s a risk we’ll incur more support costs as we raise our customers’ expectations around the service. But the plan is that customized installs that make sure we get the right equipment in the right location will mitigate this risk.

This way, the increased install cost is more than offset by the reduction in support and hardware costs.

In our recent event with Wi-Fi NOW, you mentioned that Wi-Fi Plus is a premium paid service. How are you expecting this new offering will impact your profitability?

Yes, it’s a paid service at $10 per month. Though it’s replacing the hardware purchase model we already have in the market, we expect Wi-Fi Plus to have a significant positive impact on ARPU.

It’s still in the early weeks, but how has this new service been received by customers? Are you seeing any trends in popularity or feedback with it?

So far, the feedback has been really positive. Customers recognize the importance of good WiFi—and have demonstrated that they’re willing to pay for the right solution.

And of course, we have to ask. How has RouteThis helped TELUS deliver a WiFi guarantee?

The intangible (and complex!) nature of WiFi means it’s difficult to communicate service expectations and results—but our goal is to use the visual nature of RouteThis Certify to help our salespeople, technicians, and support agents in talking WiFi with customers.

Rather than having to explain coverage and hope the customer understands and agrees, RouteThis shows results directly to customers. This should help shift conversations away from explaining what may or may not be happening, and toward how to address the root cause.

For example, we expect customers will be more likely to trust an upsell message when they can see a visual indication of poor coverage in the RouteThis app.

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Erin Penney
Erin Penney
Erin Penney
Erin Penney

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