Product development in Grameenphone Limited
When it comes to look into the top brands, telecom operators always steal the show. In both 2014 and 2015, Telecom Giant Grameenphone has holds the crown as top brand. Grameenphone is the leading telecommunication service provider in Bangladesh with almost 50 million subscribers. It is widely abbreviated as GP. It started its operation on March 26, 1997 and with time it grew to be one of the leading corporations in Bangladesh. It is a joint venture and the ownership structure consists of Telenor ASA holding 55.8% share of the company and Grameenphone limited owns34.2%. Rest of the 10% is owned by public.
Before Grameenphone’s inception, the phone was for a selected urbanized few. The cell phone was a luxury: a flouting accessory for the select elite. The mass could not contemplate mobile telephony as being part of their lives.Grameenphone started its journey with the Village Phone program: a pioneering initiative to empower rural women of Bangladesh. The name Grameenphone translates to “Rural phone”. Starting its operations on March 26, 1997, the Independence Day of Bangladesh, Grameenphone has come a long way. Grameenphone pioneered the then breakthrough initiative of mobile to mobile telephony and became the first and only operator to cover 98% of the country’s people with network. Since its inception Grameenphone has built the largest cellular network in the country with over 8500 base stations.
Presently, nearly 99 percent of the country’s population is within the coverage area of the Grameenphone network. Grameenphone has always been a pioneer in introducing new products and services in the local telecom market. GP was the first company to introduce GSM technology in Bangladesh when it launched its services in March 1997. Grameenphone was also the first telecommunication operator in Bangladesh to introduce the pre-paid service in September 1999. It established the first 24-hour Call Center, introduced value-added services such as VMS, SMS, fax and data transmission services, international roaming service, WAP, SMS-based push-pull services, EDGE, personal ring back tone and many other products and services. In October 2013 the company launched 3G services commercially. The entire Grameenphone network is 3G/EDGE/GPRS enabled, allowing access to high-speed Internetand data services from anywhere within the coverage area. There are currently over 7 million 3G/EDGE/GPRS users in the Grameenphone network.
Interesting Facts about GP:
- Investment of Grameenphone is 9 billion and it contributes 7 billion to the government.
- Grameenphone is one of the largest taxpayers in the country, having contributed more than BDT 35,500 crore in direct and indirect taxes to the Government Exchequer over the years.
- There are now more than 1600 GP Service Desks across the country covering nearly all upazilas of all districts and 92 Grameenphone Centers in all the divisional cities
- Grameenphone has about 5000 full and temporary employees.
- 300,000 people are directly dependent on Grameenphone for their livelihood, working for the Grameenphone dealers, retailers, scratch card outlets, suppliers, vendors, contractors and others
- As of 2013 GP has the highest AMPU (Average min per user per month) of 249 minute compared to Robi and Banglalink which was 155 and 186 minute respectively.
- GP has the highest gross Average revenue per user (ARPU) which is 176, compared with Robi’s 161 and Banglalink’s 119.
- GP has the lowest percentage of churn users. As of 2013 Grameenphone was the only business unit of Telenor to have a churn % below 20.
This particular team is responsible for the micro campaigns and I directly worked with this team. The GP user often receive exciting offer on internet usage and packages. This particular team basically designs the campaign and with the help of the software and technology department, this particular team sends SMS to the consumer. Prior to sending sms , they make a list of selective people on the basis of the data given by business intelligence team. This team contributes incremental revenue generation in the Grameen phone.
Pricing and Portfolio Management Team: This team not only works on the operational level for the product department but also does strategic forecasting for the entire company.
Corporate strategy & vision of Grameenphone is completely intertwined with the ones created by the Telenor group. As per corporate strategy various target is sent by the Telenor group and one of the sub team of Pricing is responsible for creating the target for the CEO, CXO and all the other department heads of the commercial division. The team tries to fix a target by aligning the sent requirement of the Telenor group with the internal and external analysis done to check the feasibility of the application of those requirements.
After the target upon revenue, subscriber capacity, etc are created for GP, and then it is further divided and distributed to various functional departments such as technology, finance, product, etc. Then the process of 5 quarter forecasting is done. After forecasting, pricing strategy and guideline is finalized. Aprice conjoint study is done aftera nationwide research work and the product portfolio is decided.
According to the strategy and guideline, some ideas are generated and shared with the individual product managers. As per the given target, now the individual product managers generate new product idea or modify their products. A detailed roadmap is created and monthly basis roadmap is sent to the technology department for development and also to marketing department where the communication is planned and designed. Customer experience team and Business intelligence team also aids in this process with their reporting, data analysis, churn prediction, etc. After the modality finalization, financial feasibility new products are launched. Through distribution and sales it finally reaches the target customers. A product manager continuously monitors the performance and takes necessary steps to manage the product life cycle.
Business Solutions Team: Offers customized solution to large, medium and small enterprises. Major verticals include FMCG, Bank, Pharmaceuticals, NGO, Public sector, RMG. Business customers are highly fragmented and heterogeneous hence through the creation of customized solution pack BS strives to become the complete solution provider.
Commercial division also includes the following departments:
Marketing: Marketing is responsible for all types of Product development and launch, Branding and communication, International Roaming, Value Added Services( likenamaj alert, sports alert, news alert, welcome tune) and all types of Research activities. Its functions include understanding consumer preferences, development of communications, brand management, campaign management, and management of communication channels.
Distribution and Retail Sales: It includes GP centers all over Bangladesh, dealers and retail outlets. The responsibility of sales department is to sell the products and services of Grameenphone. Therefore they have to work in close collaboration with Marketing Division for their success in selling. They also need to keep good relationship with the sellers and also with customers.
Direct Sales:Business solutions created in the product department are mostly sold through this channel. Business solutions such as broad band services, enterprise solutions, Mobile voice and data, etc. are sold in bulk to different organizations. Below the line communication is mostly used for such total solution providing packages. They offer and sell customized cost effective price plans, mobile office, tracking services, connectivity solutions to various organizations through the process of direct sales.
Customer Services: The main objective of the Customer Service division is to be the best in class customer service in Asia to gain competitive advantage for Grameenphone in the market place. Its responsibility is to position itself as the most reliable, friendly and quality service provider in the industry to be perceived as the operator that provides segment based services beyond expectations.
Customer Experience: Grameenphone has established a Customer Experience Lab, which helps the company to gain valuable customer insight about its products and services. The lab is being used to check feasibility of ideas with potential customers early in the product development phase. They receive customer complaints and works with product, marketing and audit.
It is amazing how friendly the people of Grameenphone are. The organizational culture of Grameenphone Limited is thus an excellent one where it promotes respect and friendly environment to enhance ease of communication. It is a company that fosters the growth mindset and actually provides employees with the energyand enthusiasm to make it happen. GP is a company in which you can really contribute and grow and it’s a company that you can have fun in.
The working environment is a proper one in Grameenphone. “Agileworking is critically important”, as deemed as important. GP believes in flexible work time and place. They promote empowerment and responsibility. It is an organization that values creativity, plays to individual’s strengths and allows people to be themselves; our aim is to maintain highly-skilled teams with a wealth of experience. The employees of Grameenphone are some of the friendliest people I have met in my life. The environment in the organization binds all the personnel as a family. Grameenphone also practices hygiene, health concerns, preserving the environment, sustainability, growth, opportunity, green, and other positive energies.
Grameenphone finds the right people who are compatible with the beliefs of the organization. They believe in “They are the enabler of individual progress to go beyond”. They find the people who share this belief. GP provides with all the needs of the employees so that they are satisfied and committed. The fundamental characteristics are shared. As a result, there is a strong culture and shared values among coworkers. It translates to increased levels of trust and a shared sense of corporate community.
To find critiques of such an excellent corporation is very tough. Perhaps one flaw I can point out is that the work pressure is not consistent in Grameenphone. There are quite a few times when the employees need to work day and night to complete a project on a short notice.
Grameen phone believes that there should be continuous process of developing the product offering there by exceeding the expectation of the consumer. GP does not only offer their product to their consumer once, rather they improvise their offering on a regular basis. They actually offer different product offering for their consumer.
Free internet and reward offer for the Bondhuuser: As I have mentioned that bondhu package is for those who have the maximum number of fnf list, so it is a clear indication that they are more social people. GP offers free 7 MB internet to make this package more interesting. This offer is beneficial for both the parties. The new offering attracts the consumer to talk more and get free internet as well as the organization generated revenue.
Bondhu users also enjoy reward of getting discount in different outlets if they talk to a particular amount of time.
Djuice: for the djuice user, they have the highest number of fnf system in the other operator with a very low call rate. From the market research they have come to know that the young generation mostly use djuice and they have usage of data more than that of call. So, GP surprise the consumer with 50% off on the mobile internet package. Moreover, the consumer has the opportunity of 10 fnf number to any other operator, which is a great offer to them. Other than that,djuice consumer has the special community rate for the djuice user and there is no need of fnf for that.
Star program: Grameen phone has always given priorities to their high valued consumer. For those, who are staying with Grameen phone over these years and who have maximum usage of Grameen sim and helping to generate revenue in a large scale, they are getting the priority service known as star program and they are called the star consumer.
For the star consumer, Grameen phone has all the facilities on a priority basis. ‘You are our Priority! ‘This is the tag line of GP for its star consumer. Starting from the retail store to fashion houses, everywhere GP has designed service for its consumer. At Grameenphone Centers!
The list of Grameen phone star program is given below
- Discount at grand sultan:grand sultan is the new sensation of hotel industry in Bangladesh. People have an attraction for this hotel. However, the cost of staying over there is huge. Keeping the desire of people , GP has signed a deal with the hotel that star consumer would get 55% discount all around the year and for different other offering like breakfast, movie, swimming pool there would be different discount offering. To sum up, the star consumer would get royal service once they visit grand sultan.
- Fashion houses:GP has different agreement with fashion houses like Nabila, mayasir, menz club, trendz, leatherex, watch world and whenever the GP star goes to those shops, they get discount of various amount starting from 10% to 20%.
- Hotel and restaurant:hotel regency, westin, hotel sarina, cream and fudge, Panini restaurant, kiva han. Sawadee, sub city, hotel italiano, red emperor and many more food places the gp star are treated as a real star and get discount amount of different category.
- Health care:GP star has the benefit of getting discount on VLCC, laser chain skin center. Moreover, the platinum plus consumer has the benefit of complementary free medical checkup opportunity.
- Bank service:Grameen phone has designed the benefit of getting discount on the annual fee on credit card of BRAC Bank. Moreover, in MTB capital limited, gp star has the opportunity of opening free BO A/C.
- Transport service:GP Star gets 15% discount on shohoz.com on e ticket of intercity bus ticket. During festival, while it is very difficult to manage the ticket, then the star are treated like star. 10% off on base fare is also given to the GP star on US –bangla airlines.
- Theme park:25% off on all packages is given to the star consumer at Nandan theme Park.
- Discount at Super Shop:in agora the GP star has 20% discount on purchase amount.
My assignment and contribution
It is a life time opportunity to work with a team who directly design and run the campaign activity. GP users often receive sms on different internet package and discount offer on recharge of certain amount. Before sending the sms to the consumer, this team does some backend activity along with the technology department.
As an intern, I have done the following task
- User Acceptance Taste (UAT):GP has found that btl(below the line )and micro campaign has generated huge revenue. So they have now on a continuous basis send push sms to their consumer. Before sending the sms the team does the UAT. In this system, the team select sim of different category like smile , bondhu, ekota , d juice etc. then they check whether the sim have the validity. After that, the person doing uat enter a particular system number to the software. Then the software informs whether the sim is applicable for the new internet and recharge offer. Then, the person has to recharge a certain amount of money or activate an internet package. After that again a specific number is given to the system to see, whether the offer valid for the particular sim user. Then if the confirmation comes, then the sim is selected and feedback is given as okay to the system. Without UAT no micro campaign offer is given to the consumer.
- Preparing FAQ:whenever, a micro campaign is executed and a push SMS is sent to the consumer, then many consumers get confused about the product offering. As a result, they call to the Grameen phone customer care. Thing is, the employee of product department design the product offering and the employee of customer care does not know anything about the product offering. However, one of the values of GP is to make easier. On this note, on behalf of CRM team, I have prepared FAQ before any product is offered to the consumer and a copy of the FAQ is sent to the customer care center. While preparing the FAQ, I had to check whether I was writing the proper date and everything. Every single day, I had to prepare at least one FAQ and preparing FAQ was one of my routine works.
- Making design tool: while I was assigned to prepare design tool for my team, then I felt my importance. Because, preparing design tool was the task of the micro campaign manager miss. Farhana’s duty and only she has the authority to design the tool. However, she taught me the system of making design tool and with the help of software, I prepared design tool. Design tool basically helps to execute the campaign activity and this track about the success rate of the micro campaign. Software is needed to prepare design tool. However, I cannot put the name of the software here, due to confidential issue.
- Keeping update of the micro campaign: the campaign manager has to keep update of the micro campaign activity. For instance, during friendship day GP might give push SMS to the consumer along with an offer. Then, the campaign manager has to track whether the campaign was successful by seeing the number of the people who took the offer. For this keeping track of the micro campaign and keeping a update of the campaign activity is one of the most important activity of the campaign manager, and on behalf of her, I used to do that.
- Keeping update of the design tool: I was not only responsible for managing design tool, I also had to keep the update of the design tool for the execution of the micro campaign. Since, I updated the design tool of lead specialist Miss. Moyabia, so she found it very convenient to give the list of the campaign owner.
To sum up, these were the task that I had to do on a regular basis. Besides, I had to do the photocopy, print out etc. tasks. Moreover, I sometimes helped my team mates to arrange a food card from the coordinator for their business partner. I have never said ‘NO’ to anyone or any work. I have always felt that, even doing a simple photocopy or print out is a big task. While doing print out or photo copy, I have always kept in my mind that if I mess up a single page, then I might get shouted. So, the tenure, I worked as an intern at Grameen phone, I have tried to work as sincerely as possible. GP has taught me to show respect to all kinds of works.
- Worked for a new product launch with the CRM team. One of the product managers came up with a completely new technology which will be soon launched by Grameenphone for the very first time in Bangladesh. I was a part of the on-site alpha (internal) test group. Test samples of the new technology were given to very few selected team members and luckily I was one of them. I had to create detail feedback report and was also given the opportunity to communicate with the foreign vendors.
- After successfully running User Acceptance Test for the CRM team once, I was requested to assist for many other UAT by the Customer Relationship Management team. CRM handles micro campaigns so before and after launching any campaign they need to run the User acceptance test and I was called to assist during two of their major campaign launching program.
Interactions with the Team
The organizational culture of Grameenphone which focuses on values, gives the overall environment a friendly nature. People at all levels are very friendly and nurture learning. My supervisors as well as the whole team of CRM have been very kind and helpful to me. Other than my supervisor, while working, I got to talk and gain insights from the Specialist of Customer Relationship Management (Nashar Ahmed). My internship supervisor in particular was always ready to lend a helping hand and has taught me many things.
In addition to the whole product department, I had a very good relation with the HR team. They have treated us very well and from time to time asked us for evaluation of our work which seemed to have a good notion to it. My interactions were not limited to these people only. I also successfully interacted with some employees from the Technology department to gain insights about their work as well. I do believe, these interactions will not be limited to my internship period only but develop into a good relation with everyone.
There is always an initial resistance to things we find new. However, overcoming these challenges help us to develop as a person. There a few challenges that I faced during my internship and they are illustrated below:
Coping up with the workload. At the initial stages, I had a bit of trouble managing the time as a lot of time was taken to do the tedious data entry. Along with it there was a backlog of 4 months of data entry that I had to clear. Thus the difficulty in managing the time was causing delay in the delivery of my work. However, as time passed by, I found my tricks; one of them involved sorting the data as much as possible before starting to work on them. This helped me a lot later on.
Differences in Expectations
There was a good difference from my expectations of the internship program and the real experience from the internship. This is mainly because, there are rumors of how the interns are not treated well and are not given any real responsibility. With an internship Grameenphone Limited I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about mistreatment but I doubted how much of a real responsibility will I be provided with.
First and foremost, I was surprised to see the level of flat structure that is exercised in GP. I was surprised at how friendly everyone was including the product managers, the DGM and GM.
Additionally, Grameenphone’s employees not only are friendly but offer amicable conversations and valuable advice. When it comes to real responsibility, the team I worked with, I was given full freedom to work as I like given I do not violate any policies. My supervisor explained it all to me and told me that given that I follow the value of “Responsibility & Accountability” I was empowered to continue my work on my own. Initially the level of sudden empowerment did shake me up a little incase I did something wrong. However, I realized what a huge responsibility I was being given and knew that I wanted to make the most of it. It was a huge opportunity to learn as well as show my skills and I could not have asked anything more. Overall the internship provided me an experience above my expectations and it was one of the best experiences I had in quite some time.
To be very honest, I could not find any flaws in the organization. The flat organizational structure, friendly environment and proactive employee works with dedication in order to remain the number one telecom service provider of the country. To sum up, the finding of the Grameen phone from solely my observation is given below.
- a. Service oriented organization: since, this is a service oriented organization, so everyone works with enthusiasm to give the best service to the consumer.
- Mix up with the retailer: GP believes it is very important to educate the retailer about the product. Whenever, a new product is launched , then the employee of the GP spend a whole working day and goes to theretail store with a view to explaining the product and offering to the consumer. Since, most of the people feel it is easier to ask the retailer than going to the Grameen phone customer care, about the product offering. For instance, during the tenure of internship I saw that the employee went out to the retail store twice. Few days back, they educate the retailer about the easy net campaign. GP knows that if the employee goes to the retail store and talk to the retailer personally then the retailer would feel himself an important person and the campaign would be more successful.
- Alignment among all the departments: GP is one of those organizations where there is alignment among the people of all departments. As I have mentioned, before launching a new product, the UAT has to be done. UAT cannot be performed without the help of technology department. Whenever, we used to do UAT, the technology department used to give us the backup help and after the successful completion of UAT, the marketing team worked to do the promotional activity. The people of various departments become ready to help once anyone asks for that.
The internship program at Grameenphone is very well designed and it was an experience which is worthwhile. I learned a lot and interacted with everyone as much as I can. Thus there wouldn’t be too many changes that I would like to bring to the program if I did it again. However, there is always room for improvement to anything and thus I would like to improve on the following:
- My knowledge during the internship period was limited roughly to the modality of one department and the telecommunication industry. However, given a chance, I would like to interact with the marketing department and learn more about the marketing communication
- I had to perform one research on “Print ads”. If I could re-do it, I would do the research more extensively and do a more in-depth analysis.
- I would like to interact more with people from other departments and increase my networking capabilities.
As expected, it is an experience that helped me learn a lot, grow as a person and provide me with valuable knowledge beyond those that I could have obtained from the books. Thus my experience in Grameenphone was one of the best experiences of my life. I enjoyed it as much as possible and successfully interaction and built relations with some of the top managers of the industry. The environment, the people, all nurtured my learning process. I would love to work for them on a permanent basis someday. This report successfully replicated the experience of the three months I had worked as an intern in Grameenphone Ltd. and should stand as an example of what good internship programs stand as.