Agony Lance: In charge

Telecom dropped its mobile data roaming costs for the most popular destinations to rock bottom, which we think was an amazingly great move. If you were running Telecom, what else would you do? –Simon and Chris, Auckland

Sadly the news (which I agree was excellent) that Telecom dropped data roaming costs to something people could actually afford was overshadowed by a major infrastructure failure for home broadband customers. Telecom leadership not only saw a better roaming answer for customers, but also made things happen quickly. Unfortunately Telecom is still suffering from a legacy of underinvestment and complexity, and does not have complete command of the basics.

My advice to Telecom senior management is simply to place customers and engineering excellence first.

Get out of the office and talk to retail customers. Listen to them and then go back and redefine the business that you are in from their perspective. At the risk of pre-judging the answer, it seems clear that customers want reliability and simplicity at fair prices.

Be bold. Simplicity means tearing up and replacing all of the existing contracts, as you did with roaming, moving to a ridiculously simple approach. Simple means a seamless internet and voice experience without having to think about the technology.

A simple ‘Internet and Voice’ product would make it easy for staff to do their job, and remove product dependence on a particular delivery technology, such as mobile, or fibre.

Simple products mean removing complex billing systems, and allowing engineers to focus on delivering services rather than collecting payments.

Lance Wiggs is a business consultant and acts as agony aunt for distressed Idealog readers. Get inside his head at or ask him a question @lancewiggs.

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