Background of the Study
In the cellular telecommunication industry of Bangladesh, Grameenphone Ltd. is a force to be reckoned with. In a little over 7 years, Grameenphone Ltd. has established itself as the dominant player of in the telecommunications sector, even surpassing the state-run Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) in terms of subscriber base. The company today commands more subscribers than all its competitors’ in the mobile telephone industry combined. To take the company to its current position, the distribution network of the company has to be an efficient and an organized one. Therefore, it is imperative that the channel partners of the company must be satisfied to deliver their best service so that they can win over its competitors to attract new customers and at the same time keep the existing customers happy as well.
There is no available information about the satisfaction level of the distributors, dealers, agents and outlets of GrameenPhone Ltd. As a result, GrameenPhone Ltd. wants to get an idea about the prevailing perception of its distributors, dealers, agents and outlets about itself.
The main objective of the survey was to find out the satisfaction level of the dealers and distributors of GP who provide mobile phone service to the customers. Another objective included determining the problems that these outlets faced and also to find out what kind of amendments could be made to improve the GP service from the respondent’s point of view.
A set of questionnaire was prepared for this purpose, which included various questions that were designed using both open-ended and 5-point scales.
- Find out the level of satisfaction on the Distribution System of GP.
- Find out the level of satisfaction of Dealers and Agents on GP Services.
- Find out the level of awareness that the Dealers/Agents have about GP.
Specific Objectives(1) To find the level of satisfaction of the dealers and agents regarding the amount of commission they are receiving
(2) An indication on how much commission they are willing to get
(3) To find the level of satisfaction of the dealers and agents regarding the method of handset delivery from GP logistics
(4) To find the level of satisfaction of the dealers and agents regarding the time period they need to wait in order to receive commission
(5) To get an insight on the time taken for subscription activation and any problems faced regarding activation
(6) To find the level of satisfaction of the dealers and agents regarding the reporting method that needs to be done.
(7) To find the level of satisfaction of the dealers and agents regarding the flow of information from GP to Dealers/Agents and their subsequent comments on 155 support towards them.
(8) To find the level of satisfaction of the dealers and agents on their interaction with GP employees on the basis of
- i. Degree of Professionalism
- ii. Knowledge about the business
- iii. Friendliness and helping attitude
(9) To find the level of satisfaction dealers and agents have regarding GP coverage in their area of operation
(10) To find out major customer complaints that the dealers/agents are required to handle
(11) To find the potential areas for GP coverage and areas where improvement is required.
(12) To find the level of knowledge/awareness dealers and agents have regarding GP products that they are selling and the Value Added Services provided.
Scope of the Research
Dealer and Agent Outlets of GP are to be found in many locations throughout Bangladesh. The report was based on survey of the Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi and Sylhet Divisions of the country.
Nature of the Research
The research is based on both quantitative and qualitative study
The qualitative aspect of the report will include a description of the major complaints received by the Dealers/Agents of GP. This section will try to cover major complaints that are received and how they are dealt with or if it is possible to deal with them. This section will also try to find whether there is any relationship between the major complaints received and the location of the outlet.
This section will further address certain recommendations provided by the dealers/agents and their impact on the improvement of performance of GP.
The level of satisfaction of the dealers/agents on GP’s distribution system as well as GP’s overall system has been covered by the questionnaire. In this questionnaire, satisfaction level of dealers/agents has been quantified.
The specific objectives were kept in mind when addressing the questionnaire. Each question was farmed with consideration to the scales to be used in the analysis.
As mentioned earlier a questionnaire has been used for the quantitative analysis part. The questionnaire was then followed-up by another direct interview and telephone calls to judge the level of knowledge of the channel partners about GrameenPhone and the various services that it offers.
PopulationThe very basic step in research designing is to define the population upon which we are conducting this study. Population of the study has been identified as:
All Dealer/Agent outlet owners or top management employees who are listed with the GrameenPhone records.
The main rationale behind taking this population is that members belonging to the above-mentioned section will be able to give the exact picture of the situation that exists between them and GP. Being the owners and top management employees, they will be able to provide more accurate details and provide a broader perspective than would have been available from any other employee.
Sample units in this research are top management of the outlet. Here top management is defined as those individuals in the outlet who are in the major decision-making body of a particular outlet. Under this definition comes the Owners, Managing Directors, Executive Directors, Sales & Marketing Managers, etc.
The sample units comprise of four components:
- Dealers of GP new subscriptions
- Distributors of GP Scratch Cards
- Proprietors of Outlets
- Agents of GrameenPhone
The total number of dealer and agent outlets in Bangladesh is over 140. Owing to time constraints and unavailability of concerned persons it was not possible to survey all outlets. Thus a total sample size of 80 respondents was taken and the report is based on the findings from this sample size. It should also be mentioned that the survey did not take into account the outlets owned by the newly appointed dealer-RANGS Ltd. No Barisal Outlets were taken into consideration.
Sampling FrameThe listing of Dealer and Agent outlets was available from the GP databanksThe total number of dealer and agent outlets in Bangladesh is over 140. Owing to time constraints and unavailability of concerned persons it was not possible to survey all outlets. Thus a total sample size of 80 respondents was taken and the report is based on the findings from this sample size. It should also be mentioned that the survey did not take into account the outlets owned by the newly appointed dealer-RANGS Ltd. No Barisal Outlets were taken into consideration. The listing of Dealer and Agent outlets was available. In the list the outlets are categorized according to location.
The study has been conducted by using a probabilistic method, as the complete listing regarding the sampling units was available. This method provides essentially unbiased estimates having measurable precision.
For this study area cluster sampling have used. This is a special form of cluster sampling in which the sample items are clustered on a geographic area basis. The technique here is to first select a sample of geographic areas, then studying the particular universe units associated with the selected sample of geographic areas. For our purpose the areas chosen were Dhaka, Chittagong, Rajshahi, Khulna and Sylhet.
This cluster or group has been taken on the notion that the members of these groups are externally homogenous and internally heterogeneous among themselves. The characteristics for homogeneity are given below:
- They are Dealers, or distributors, or Agents, or outlets of GrameenPhone Ltd
- They are the top management people of the individual outlet
Members within both these groups are homogenous in terms of these above-mentioned criteria. However, the two groups are heterogeneous due to the differences in the volume of each criterion between these each group. This is the key factor that makes them heterogeneous. In addition to this there are other factors for heterogeneity and they are given below:
- Monthly subscriptions sold
- Monthly income from GP subscriptions
- Knowledge and awareness of GP products and services.
- Satisfaction level of dealers/agents regarding GP distribution and overall services
Doing a research of such proportions may have resulted in errors to take place. Much potential error is systematic, the error that results from bias, while the remainder is random, an error that occurs in an erratic fashion.
This research paper takes into account these cases of errors. Major sources of error have been identified as follows:
- Situation as an Error: This perhaps has been one of the principle sources of errors. Such errors usually result from any condition that may have placed a strain on the interview. Everyone in the top management of an outlet is extremely busy and managers of different functional areas constantly visit them for various business-related purposes. In some situations therefore, the respondent could not freely answer the questions. The physical and mental status of the respondent also at times resulted in error as respondents varied in enthusiasm and participation depending on their mood.
- Respondent as an Error: This kind of error results due to both non-response as well as inaccurate perception with regard to a specific concept or construct of a questionnaire. In this research, at times the respondents were reluctant to provide extreme positive or negative views and preferred to reside in the neutral area. This error of neutrality was somewhat checked as most of the scales were in four-point scale. In addition to this, there have been some cases where there were respondents who claimed that they knew a lot about GP; but during the course of the interview this proved to be wrong. The respondent’s views then tend to be misleading.
- Measurer as an Error: Such error, however, happened in the pre-testing phase of the report. The very theme of the report was new to the members; hence much-desired queries and information could not be communicated with the respondents. This however, was rectified once full-fledged interviewing started for the final survey.
It must however be mentioned that there was no case of the instrument, meaning questionnaire, as the source of error. The final questionnaire was designed in such a way that there was least scope for instrument as an error.
Sharing of informationThe business units were not willing to share information on certain cases e.g. commission and income.
Overview of the Telecommunication Industry of Bangladesh
In a country such as Bangladesh where the state-owned operator, the Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB), dominates the landline telephone system and provides poor services and infrastructure, cellular phones tend to be substitute for landlines. For poor countries and rural areas, it is cheaper to build mobile infrastructure than fixed line communications.
In terms of topography, Bangladesh is a flat country where 90% of the country is dominated by alluvial river plains, which does not rise more than 10 meters above sea level. The flatness facilitates the construction of base stations and improves its coverage area. Besides reviewing the macro indicators to identify potential demand, consumer demand for cellular services has also been studied. A case study conducted by the Telecom Development Group for the Canadian International Development Agency, found that there was a consumer willingness to pay for cellular phone services and a significant consumer surplus experienced by the villagers. According to the report, the consumer surplus for a single phone call from a village to Dhaka (the costs of a call that replaces the physical trip to the city and the costs of wages) ranges from 2% to 12% of mean monthly household income, which translates to a saving of 132 to 490 Taka (USD$2.70 to $10)
Fixed Line Operators
Apart from the state-run Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB), there are two other fixed line telephone operators who provide fixed line telephone access. The operators are: Bangladesh Rural Telecom Authority and Sheba Telecom. However, none of the latter two provide telephone services in the city areas; rather they are licensed to provide telephone services in the rural areas only. In needs no mention that the fixed line services provided by these three operators together does not even meet a portion of the existent demand for telephony services. In all the years, these three operators together were able to provide only around 1,000,000 telephone connections.
During the early Nineties the Telecom sector in Bangladesh was severely under developed when the market was monopolized by the state owned operator, BTTB (Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board). BTTB provided only fixed line telephony services, which was heavily skewed in the urban areas where as 80% of the population of Bangladesh lived in the rural areas. This unequal distribution of services created the opportunity for the mobile operators. The granting of a paging service license to Bangladesh Telecom Authority in 1989 paved the way for mobile service in Bangladesh. Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Limited (PBTL, now CityCell) operating under CDMA technology was first granted the operating license as mobile phone operator in 1993, and was joined by three other GSM mobile operators namely GrameenPhone, Robi and Banglalink in 1996, 1997 and 1998 respectively.
CityCell launched its service in early 1993 with AMPS technology. Later they introduced in 1998 the latest CDMA technology.
CDMA is a long-term strategic option for PBTL as these technology supports fixed & mobile services from single infrastructure. Being the only operator having nationwide license for fixed wireless services, PBTL is diligently addresses the potentials. The operator contracted FUJITSU CORPORATION to roll out synchronous digital hierarchy based microwave link over Dhaka- Chittagong highway. This will help customers to talk while traveling from Dhaka to Chittagong. They are planning to provide 5,000 fixed connections on way to Chittagong. CityCell also have plans to launch their services in Sylhet by June 2001.
Robi and BanglalinkRobi and Banglalink were launched on September 97 & Sept 98 respectively. Both of these companies are presently handling around 40,000 cell phone subscribers of the country. Interconnection scarcity has also discouraged Aktel & Sheba from launching any new service.
Robi have plans to expand their services to Khulna & Rajshahi. Prepaid service was launched in May 2001. Aktel already finished backbone for Dhaka-Chittagong. They will also expand coverage to Feni, Narayanganj etc. As of May 2004, AKtel claims to cover 61out of 64 district headquarters of the country. Banglalink is planning to expand their services to North Bengal-in Bogra, Sirajganj, Manikganj, Rajshahi.
There are also some factors which are major threats for the mobile phone operators. GrameenPhone being the leader in the market with largest coverage and subscriber base is a major threat for the other operators. Liberalization leading to more advantage for the market leader is a threat. Lack of financial investment capability, lack of further interconnection with fixed network and mergers and acquisition of other companies is a big threat for the other mobile operators. Since more telecom organizations are emerging, loss of expertise is a threat too.
Overview of GrameenPhone Limited
The entire global telecom sector has taken an intrinsic fall due to the drastic downturn in the economy. The revenue receipt for the fiscal year 2002-03 has been estimated at Tk. 33,084 crores (i.e. approximately 4.9 billion) and revenue expenditure for fiscal year 2002-03 has been estimated at Tk. 23,972 crores (USD 4.3 billion).The national budget for the fiscal year gives priority to the development of information technology and the telecommunication sector by setting 13% of its revenue expenditure for transport and communication. An analysis of the spending ability of consumers shows that people with household income of Tk 6,000 to Tk.10, 000 can bear an expenditure of $7.00 – $12.00/per month on telecom on an average. And people with household income of Tk.15,000 and above spend approximately $18 to $34.00/per month on an average on telecom in Bangladesh.
With a population of nearly 130 million people, Bangladesh is the most densely populated country in the world. The infrastructure for telecommunications is poor, however. The public fixed network, operated by the Bangladesh Telephone and Telegraph Board (BTTB) is inadequate to meet the demand. With around 1,000,000 fixed phone lines, current penetration remains below 2.53% and the distribution is heavily skewed, with roughly 80% of the service concentrated in the cities of Dhaka and Chittagong.
In 1993, the Bangladesh government granted an exclusive mobile cellular license to Pacific Bangladesh Telecom Limited (PBTL). By late 1997, when authorities ended PBTL’s monopoly, it had sold just 4,000 cell-phone subscriptions. Since then, new operators have entered the market and the number of mobile phones has surpassed 180,000 by July 2000.
From the viewpoint of political reformation, the telecom policies have been reviewed and more categories of tax have been imposed after the formation of the new government. In terms of technology, Bangladesh will be connected with optical fiber network by June 2004 leading to tremendous improvement in its information and communication technology.
Company ProfileGrameenPhone (GP) was organized as a joint venture between Telenor (Norway), Grameen Telecom (Bangladesh), Marubeni Corporation (Japan), and Gonofone Development Corporation (USA).
The company first launched its service on March 26, 1997, the Independence Day of Bangladesh. The company believes that mobility can, in a small way, increase people’s freedom and thus its services were launched on a day that celebrates liberty.
Today, GP is one of the largest private sector investments in Bangladesh with US$ 85 million already invested in infrastructure development alone.In completion of its 7th year of purposeful existence, GrameenPhone takes pride in boldly going where no mobile phone operator in the country has gone before. Year 2002 saw GrameenPhone stamping its positioning in the market place as the undisputed leader that paves the way for the rest and its commanding share in market can only be surpassed by its share in the heart of the people. With the branding perspective in mind, the year 2002 for GrameenPhone was definitely a marketing success story well told.
Throughout the year, the brand drive was all about creating an imprint on people’s mind through a grueling effort of both internal and external communication, building an ongoing relationship that feeds on customer loyalty and maintaining an identity of a true leader whose very name represents all the fulfilled promises that were made to the customers. The objective – appealing to the emotional platform of the customers to make a lasting impression. The result – relationship marketing at its very best. The idea behind the result – building on the leadership status with a keen eye towards innovation, value addition and differentiation. From present differentiation strategy of giving wide range of handset options with maximum assortment of value added services, this year the drive of the holistic marketing approach was towards a future differentiation strategy of appealing to the heart of the people rather than to the rational faculty. To achieve that future desired state of Leadership Consolidation, the aggressive communication strategy worked on all fronts through appealing visuals, image building sponsorship and strong media visibility.
With a market positioning that signals reliability, transparency and social responsibility coupled with the charisma that a true market leader commands, currently GP looks brighter than ever. 2003 was definitely a year when GrameenPhone made own path and left a trail behind.
GrameenPhone was established to provide high quality GSM cellular service at affordable price in Bangladesh. It is a joint venture establishment, with Telenor, the Mother Company having 51% of the shares along with Grameen Telecom, Marubeni Inc. and Gonofone each holding 35%, 9.5%, and 4.5% shares respectively. GrameenPhone was launched on March 26, 1997. Within the short period of operation, GP has earned the market leadership through the highest number of subscribers and value-added services. Striving to be the leader of telecommunication in the country, GP had undertaken excessive promotions and innovative products meeting the market demand and quality service and in the process has earned a strong Brand reputation.
VisionGP’s vision is to be the leading provider of telecom services all over Bangladesh with satisfied customers, shareholders and enthusiastic employees.
ValuesGp’s values are divided into four categories which are maintains strongly through their operations and activities. Namely 1) Be respectful; 2) Keep Promises; 3) Make it Easy; 4) Be inspiring.
GP’s main objective has been to operate as a regular cellular phone company, enrolling and serving customers. In addition, the company aims to provide access to telephones for all people in rural areas and to create self-employment opportunities for the poor.
Overview of the Sales and Marketing Department This department has come a long way in the few years of existence of Grameenphone. The sales and marketing department of Grameenphone is further divided into 5 units. These units and their tasks are presented below:
|Market Research||:||Plans, set target, develop products|
|Logistics||:||Imports SIM, handset, distributes scratch cards|
|Marketing||:||Develops the advertisements, campaign materials|
|Distribution||:||Distributes products, achieves sales target|
|Sales||:||Deals with special sales such corporate sales|
|International Roaming||:||Contacts, negotiates with foreign operators and promotes International Roaming services|
As its name suggests this department involves in the selling procedure of GP and thus enjoys the responsibility of direct interface with the customers.
Responsibilities of Sales Department
- Market survey and collecting the feedback
- Participation in exhibition
- Participation in opening of dealers outlet
- Instant delivery
- Introducing & selling new packages
- Follow up with existing subscribers
- Building up relations with subscribers
- To build relation with the clients, to make a good rapport with them, to acknowledge them about the GP service, its advantages, coverage area, and above all to provide information about GP in a convincing manner.
- To do all the necessary arrangements to sale the product which includes handout GP application form & brochures
- Help the customer to fill up the application form including the agreement.
- Tell & help the customer to pay the amount for subscription including govt. fee and security deposit in the designated banks in cash.
- Receive the completed application form with bank deposit slip and all the documents, check carefully and ensure the signature with date.
- Make a photocopy of the SIM card with its number, mobile number and ID number.
- Inform the subscriber to contact Customer Care Department on 123 for further inquiry.
- Thanks the customer for choosing GP
- Forward the subscriber’s file to the Billing department for activation.
The distribution channel consist of the info center consist of Info centers, Dealers and the corporate sales force.
Info center provides spot solutions. Here subscribers can get subscription. 04 trained and friendly people are serving at Info Center from 8am-6pm. There is also 01 Sales & Logistics Officer who is responsible for providing SIM (Subscribers Identification Module) cards and handsets to the subscribers and distribution of marketing items.
02 persons are responsible in dealing with Dealers at Dhaka and Chittagong each. There are 03 Dealers at present-Flora, Grameen Telecom and Brothers
Corporate Sales Force
7 Officers are ready to serve any corporate clients in Dhaka and 05 person at Chittagong.
Market Research and Development
Market Research and development Department (MRD) is a vital part of GrameenPhone in terms of its importance and role. The central innovative department of GrameenPhone is MRD. This department facilitates communication between the different departments about existing and new products / packages of GrameenPhone. MRD also manages and co-ordinates information about different products. MRD evaluate the possibilities and develop new products.
MRD is responsible for communication with different departments about existing products. MRD get feedback from Sales, Customer Care and Market Communication departments regarding Customer needs and Market requirements. Feedback helps in redefining an existing product.
New ideas are developed after evaluation of market demands. MRD gives shape and form to vague ideas in the process of developing a new product. MRD is responsible to co-ordinate with Operation & Maintenance, Information System and Billing departments to get solutions check the functionality of Product features and prices. Bundling and un- Bundling of services to create new packages can be a useful way of satisfying customer needs.
MRD department supports various departments in performing their job. After the market survey, for an example, they can suggest Radio Planning department about the approximate no. of probable subscribers of a particular area and the potential of introducing service to that area.
Activities of MRDMarket Analysis:
- Analyze both local & international Telecom market information which includes:
- Local Operators: Penetration rate, Growth rate, Market share, Call charges, Existing & Estimated Subscriber base and all relevant facts & figures.
- International Operators: Value Added Services (VAS), Call charges, new features etc.
- Initiate statistical analysis on the basis of market survey.
Long Term Planning
- Initiate Roll out (network expansion) plans.
- Generate new ideas to design & promote new services as well as modify existing.
- Prepare both provisional & actual acquisition reports on a monthly basis.
- Reply to subscribers’ letter.
- Maintain intercommunication with other departments to carry out numerous future plans & actions.
Market Planning and Analysis section works in two subunits:
- Market Planning Unit
- Strategic Analysis Unit
Responsibilities of Market Planning Unit
- Writing/Updating of Business Plan
- Writing/Updating of Marketing Plan
- Identify the segment to be communicated
- Ø Develop strategies to communicate with the segment
Responsibilities of Strategic Analysis Unit:
- Revenue analysis:
- Total Revenue and Airtime Revenue-Zone-wise and Product-wise
- ARPU and AARPU calculation both in taka and dollar
- Age-wise subscriber’s revenue calculation
- Monitor the revenue trend and identify if revenue is meeting the target
- Do necessary calculation for revenue forecasting
- Assist in revenue forecasting
- Analysis of call pattern
- Maintain a database for zone-wise, product-wise and POS-wise new sales.
- Update zone-wise and product-wise subscriber base
- Prepare and update necessary chart and graph
Activities of Product Development & Management Section
This section has two sub units.
Develop Product & modify the existing one.
- Prepare Price for Different campaigns.
- Project subscriber forecast & future revenue.
- Manage Test SIM of GP & IR.
- Involve with GP Number Plan Project.
Value Added Services Unit:
- Prepare plan to promote WAP for GP subscribers.
- Work for introduction of SMS Push/ Pull for Grameen Phone.
- Analysis of VAS revenue month wise.
- Manage GP news service.
- Liaison with outside agency to introduce new Value added service.
- This section also works to provide input for S & M Budget. Monitor cost & compare budget.
- Prepare S & M Monthly Report.
Marketing department’s activities are converted in to two types of activity. They are
Market Research and Development and Market communication.
The functions of marketing department are manifold. However the main function can be articulated as to develop product and promote Concept building for promotional activities. It includes advertisement in the leasing dailies in the most effective manner within a given budget, to arrange out-door advertisement, hoarding, promotions of gift items like dairy, calendar etc.
- Competitor’s activity analysis
- Concept building for promotional activities. It includes advertisement in the leading dailies and carry out promotional activities in the most effective manner within a given budget, to arrange out-door advertisement, hoarding, promotions of gift items like dairy, calendar etc.
Besides the above-mentioned functions, this department is also responsible for all kinds of publications of GP. It is the responsibility of the marketing department to design and publish monthly Newsletter of GP.
In the above-mentioned way, marketing department plays an important role in the smooth functioning of GP.
Development of the organization and result
The development of the management committee has been a major change in the company’s organizational chart. The committee consists of the Managing Director and the divisional heads. The formation of new management committee has increased the efficiency of top management in decision making. As a result of the restructuring, a new Human resource division was created, which is solely responsible for Human resource management and development. The restructuring in all division has increased the possibility of career development but at the same time has created bureaucracy. The restructuring has also given rise to question related to promotion process. Each division has created responsibility focus teams thus the activities are carried out smoothly. Overall positive effect is observed from salary restructure. The management has formed a support group which plays a major role in supporting the production units, i.e. S&M, CRD and Technical Division but it needs to be more structured. Another significant development is that the company has started to give more focus on regions.
There seems to be lack of transparency in information flow and need for more fine-tuning of organizational structure. The coordination and responsibilities will have to be clearly defined. We have clear routines and interfaces among divisions, departments and sections but we will continue to improve the organizational structure and make changes according to requirement.
Products and Services
GP has developed a number of product packages to suit different calling needs. Products and services that we are offering today are GP-GP Regular (non ISD), GP-GP National (Non ISD) and EASY. GP is also providing Village Phones through Grameen Telecom in the market.
Table 2. Shows the total number of existing products in the market today.
GP Product Description
|4.||Smile||Mobile, BTTB Local, NWD & ISD||Mobile, BTTB Local, NWD & ISD|
Value added servicesGP is offering the following value added services along with the above mentioned products to its subscribers:
- Short Message Service (SMS) – With this service, GP’s subscribers can send text messages of up to 160 characters from one GP handset to another. The service comes with most of the products, free of monthly charges. Such messages can also be sent to other GSM phones in other networks abroad provided the subscriber has the ISD options with his/her service.
- Voice Mail Service (VMS) – This service works like an answering machine. Anyone calling a GP subscriber who is out of reach at that moment can leave a message which the subscriber can retrieve later. The service comes with most mobile products, free of monthly charges.
- Fax / Data – Fax and data services are available in post-paid packages for corporate clients. The service enables users to send/receive fax and data through their handsets by connecting to a PC/Laptop.
- Standard GSM features –Caller Identification, Call Barring, Call Holding, Call Conference, and Call Forwarding in Post-paid packages.
- Additional features – GP has set up a number of information hotlines which can be reached by dialing a three digit number from the handset.
Following are the Products & services that have been successful:
- EASY Pre-Paid because of Low flat tariff and nationwide mobility, it’s a Pre-paid service, no monthly rent required and instant use due to pre-activation, no hassles for bill payment.
- GP National because of low flat tariff, nationwide mobility, connectivity to other operators’ mobiles in different zones.
- VAS on providing information through 111 because of easy access, interesting theme, reasonable rate and for being new and innovative.
Following are the Products & services that have not been successful:
- VMS & SMS because of language barrier, marketing strategy
- Lease of fiber due to Government restrictions and permission required. Also because of problems related to the breaking up of channels i.e. we are allowed to give out at least one PCM which is equal to 30 channels but most of our customers require less than 30 channels.
- Village Phones due to problems of methodology of approval and financing.
- GP Regular has very high demand but due to lack of interconnection this product has been unsuccessful.
- International Roaming due to currency and Bangladesh Banks rules and regulations.
GP entered into a contract with Bangladesh Railway (BR) in 1997 to lease and operate latent capacity in the optical fiber digital transmission network of BR. This lease gives GP the right to sub-lease BR fiber to any other legal entity with approval from Ministry of Post & Telecommunication (MOPT).
GP is now in the process of sub-leasing the fiber optics capacity to different business organizations and other government entities. Several major organizations in the country have already applied for it and two agreements have already been signed:
- Aktel – a competing mobile operator has leased some capacity. This will increase competition but also help expand the market.
- Bangladesh Navy – is leasing one PCM for five years at cost.
Development of the Market
Since the introduction of mobile phones in August 1993, the telecom industry in Bangladesh has undergone changes in different ways. Developments, particularly, in the year 2000 are as follows:
- With the increase in number of mobile phone users the demand for mobiles has increased.
- Some of the constraining factors have not improved, as a result of which the industry’s growth has been hampered.
- Many new entrepreneurs and large investors are taking interest in the mobile phone industry.
- Proliferation of ISP’s has been observed recently in the market.
- The airtime charges range from 4 to 33 Taka per minute (depending on the company and type of use). There is little possibility that they will go down dramatically in the near future.
- Start-up prices have gone down. GP is the pioneer in reducing the start-up cost, and others are now following; e.g. in June 1998, a GP-GP subscription cost 12,900 Taka, today that subscription costs 6,900 Taka during campaign periods.
- Due to low start-up cost it has been possible to penetrate wider segments in the market enabling rapid growth.
- New products are being introduced, and GrameenPhone has been the pioneer in launching the mobile-mobile service and all other mobile phone operators launched similar products after seeing the success and acceptance of such products.
- GrameenPhone was also the first to launch the prepaid service which has gained high popularity in the market.
- The main obstacle to the growth of this industry is insufficient interconnection with BTTB. Many potential clients are being discouraged to subscribe due to this.
- Reasons for encouragement lies in the fact that people are finding mobile phones more and more useful enhancing their businesses and lifestyles. The high sale of our GP-GP is a testament to that.
- The coverage area of mobile networks is also increasing rapidly – again GrameenPhone leading the race. As a result demand for coverage in different areas has also increased.
- GrameenPhone is the only mobile phone operator providing 24-hour customer care service.
- Knowledge about mobiles among the customers and also among the general people has greatly improved.
- International advertisements on mobile communication in the mass media have generated more interest and awareness. But this has also raised their expectations from the service-providing companies.
- Competition has increased, providing the customers with more alternatives. Mobile phones are becoming more useful and affordable day by day.
- The spread of telecom sector in Bangladesh has created more career opportunity.
- Due to problem of congestion in the system and due to lack of interconnection, people in the market think that GP is selling more than its capacity.
- Since the mobile phone users are increasing and mobile to mobile phones are gaining popularity, it is evident that with the growth of Mobile phone the need for BTTB connection will decrease.
- There has been major development in IT and Telecom sector worldwide and Bangladesh is catching on.
- The nationwide mobility at a flat rate introduced by GP has been a major success in the market.
- Demand for fiber capacity has increased, as people are getting more and more aware of data transfer, cost and speed of data through GP’s fiber network.
GP’s objective is to improve peoples’ lives by giving them the access to telecommunication, to reach out to the people residing in the rural areas and connecting them to the entire nation and abroad. Keeping this in mind GP introduced its service at an affordable price for everyone.
The positioning of GP is done based on the following:
- “We cover the most” – GP provides the widest coverage, in other words, GP’s service is available in most areas of the country catering to the latent demand of a greater mass of people.
- “In the hands of the people” – GP is for everyone. With a low startup cost everyone with the need of Tele connectivity could afford to have a GP connection. GP connection is aimed at everyone.
- Reliable – GrameenPhone is a joint venture with foreign bodies having secured source of fund and therefore has the confidence of the people that, like so many other local companies, GP will not wind up within a short span of time.
- Socially responsible company – By serving the general public as opposed to the niche market GP is connecting to a wider population. Also focusing in the rural areas means connecting to the mass market and therefore contributing to the economic development of the country.
- GP has strived to facilitate telecommunication in the country and is viewed as the market leader in the telecom industry. The brand of GP is talked about in the same level as Coca-Cola, Lever Brothers and other pioneering companies in other industries in Bangladesh.
Telecommunication is changing at an astounding speed around the world, driven by the convergence of technologies. However, Bangladesh is one of the least penetrated mobile communication markets in the world. The potential growth of telecom sector in Bangladesh is bright, due to the country’s large population and relatively a small number of phones. But over the past few years this rate has increased gradually. GrameenPhone is playing a leading role in this telecommunication revolution in Bangladesh. Even though GP was not the pioneer of cellular phones in the country, GP was the pioneer in making it available to the mass people.
GP is committed to build on its already strong brand equity, and the company has already achieved a high level of recognition after only three years in the market. Branding is very important in a developing country like Bangladesh where consumer confidence is essential to growth.
The GP brand is associated with integrity, commitment to the community, professionalism and characteristics which are all reflected in the company’s advertising, Point of Sales displays, and customer service. GP is also committed to acting honestly in its dealings with its customers, its distribution partners, its suppliers, and government institutions and other stakeholders.
With regard to community commitment and social responsibility, GP’s association with Grameen Bank has a major positive impact, as Grameen Bank is well known throughout Bangladesh and abroad as a catalyst for the betterment of socio-economic conditions of the poor. The Village Phone Program furthers the image of socially responsible business. GP has also been very visible through other community activities such as a sponsorship of the Asia Cup.
The company is also recognized as being highly market driven with high visibility both in the print media and outside advertisement. The GP brand incites curiosity and interest across all walks of life which is reflected by the coverage received from local and international media.
PromotionsGP uses frequent campaigns to drive subscriber growth. The campaigns are based on promotional pricing and take place roughly every other month. The offer generally includes discounted handsets with introductory services. During the campaigns, GP runs heavy outdoor advertising and inserts in major newspapers, and always partners with point of sales in all six geographical divisions. The largest campaigns are run in conjunction with major holidays such as during Eid, Ramadan, Bangla New Year etc. to encourage high volume sale when people are in a buying mood.
Distribution strategyGP’s distribution channel is one of its competitive strengths in relation to its competitors. Currently, there are 180 outlets (compared to the nearest competitor with 40) that account for 95% of total sales. The goal is to be widely available and accessible in all areas of the country for new and existing subscribers.
GP also takes a more active role in partnering with the distribution partners than its competition. All newspaper advertising is done in conjunction with the channel to help build channel business. In order to build a tighter relationship with its outlets, GP is developing training programs to help them target and retain customers more effectively, as well as building a remote automated service activation system.
Branding at the point of service is very important to GP. All outlets display prominent standardized GP signs and displays. Interior profiling of the outlets have been developed and it is under further development so that all GP outlets have similar design and decorum to give a feeling of uniformity to everyone entering any GP outlet.
At present GrameenPhone has the largest number of Distribution channels (180 Point of sales) compared to the other operators. We would like to maintain the largest distribution network by having approximately 350 points of sale in the short term and 575 in the long term.
GP has the largest and fastest growing mobile network in Bangladesh, with 251 base stations and 660 cells all over the country. GP’s coverage, i.e. area of service, is not confined to isolated islands of cities; rather it is rapidly expanding through continuous corridors that connect cities and towns. Table 2.2 below, shows an overview of area and population coverage, broken down by divisions. It should be noted that the area coverage cited in this table refers to technical coverage, as specified by the guaranteed coverage area of base stations.
Table 2.2: GP Coverage Summary
GrameenPhone at present owns 60% of the market share and is the Market leader in terms of coverage and subscriber base. GrameenPhone would like to continue to be the market leader in both short term and long term perspective. In a market largely driven by demand, GP is poised to dramatically increase its number of subscribers for the next 5 years, reaching 1.6 million subscribers by the end of 2005. Though there will be increased competition in the market, still we will be the no. 1 choice with a market share of 55% in the long term and for 2001 62%, due to low start up cost.
- Established Brand: The Branding activities have led GP to build a strong brand. The mother brand is placed on the same platform as other renowned brands like British American Tobacco, Citicorp, etc. in Bangladesh.
- Low start up cost: A low startup cost was required to reach out to the general public.
- Individualism: Although GP has close affiliation with its multinational parent company, GrameenPhone has an independent brand identity in the market.
- Wide Acceptability: The branding activities and the service of GP have earned 70% of the market share with 640,000 subscribers.
- Market awareness: GP has wide distribution network and good knowledge of this and therefore serves the market demand accordingly.
- Widest coverage: GP has always focused on bringing the entire country under its network. GP has covered 40 districts in 2001, while the next highest coverage was done by a competitor with 10 districts.
- Extensive market presence (availability): To make telecommunication accessible to the mass market, GP has set up its POS in the most convenient areas of the districts under the GP network.
- Customers trust: Wide connectivity, easy communication and affordable price have earned customer confidence and made many people depend on GP on a day to day basis.
- No Copyright: The GP brands are not protected by Copyrights, which has led to the misuse of the branding attributes and bears the risk of such misusage in future as well.
- Sub brands are not well established.
- Billing System: The abrupt barring of connection due to a complicated billing system confuses the customers. Such hassles lead to an unfavorable impression for the company.
- Network limitations: Call drop, congestion, and poor connectivity with BTTB result in bad image of the company.
OpportunitiesThe main opportunities for GrameenPhone would be to have continuous presence of GP all over Bangladesh, to increase market share and to expand coverage in order to be the first to market in unexplored markets. New licenses complementing GSM telephony, strategic alliances with airtime vendors (service providers) would bring opportunities for further development. More international roaming partners, good pre-paid service would bring more revenue. Ownership of distribution partners, better utilization of IT resources would give GP the opportunity for faster growth. Sophisticated and flexible billing system, introducing rentals phones, increased sale of Village Phone through Grameen Bank’s infrastructure, automation of routines and procedures are also GP’s opportunities for the short and long- term period.
The threats for GrameenPhone would be lack of financing, lack of interconnection with fixed network, political favoritism to other operators, and change in regulations having negative effect on our business. Other major forces are, Voice over IP, launch of new operators and other operators’ pre-paid service would be some of the threats for GP.
Also, the major opportunities of the competitors of GP in the mobile sector would be to expand their coverage to other divisions and gain subscribers easily as GP has already established mobile market in other divisions. Thus, they can en-cash on already developed mobile market, including mobile to mobile. By having new and more financial support the mobile operators can increase their network capacity and increase market share. Can take up new and aggressive marketing strategies and improve on customer service. The mobile operators have the opportunity to reduce start-up cost and increase point of sales in order to cater to the needs of the different segments of the market. Now is the time for the mobile phone operators to capitalize on the negative image of GrameenPhone (recent congestion in GP pre-paid service) and introduce Pre-paid service in the market. GSM is global system mobile and there is huge demand of a complete mobile system in the market thus introducing complete mobile solution along with Value added services in the market could be a good opportunity for the operators.
Core Values & Brand Hierarchy
Perception about GrameenPhone prevailing in the industry:
- Market Leader: Leading telecommunication service provider in the country: as measured by number of subscribers, network coverage, long term relationship and profitability.
- Affordable: With a low startup cost GP has tried to achieve the main purpose of its existence: bringing telecommunication within the reach of the mass people of Bangladesh
- Innovative: To be the trendsetter; GP is open and receptive to new ideas. We continuously find new and better ways to serve customers through technology and service and have even introduced products that did not exist in the telecommunication industry previously.
- Wide Market Presence: By end 2001 GP had around 262 Points of sale (sales outlets) while that of its nearest competitor is 71. By end of 2002, GP intends to have 350 POS.
- Financially sound: GP has sound financial health due to foreign investment and massive expansion.
CultureGrameenPhone has a conducive and safe working environment. Besides focusing on customers and communities, they are committed to treating their employees with Integrity, dignity and respect. The Company’s intent is to establish good working relationship through a mutual understanding of expectations.
They believe in working in a team and demonstrate team spirit to maximize and excel in standard quality service to their valued subscribers in the area of telecommunication. Employees work in an environment where they feel valued, responsible and supported by the authority as well as by their colleagues.
3.1 For this survey purpose, qualitative study has been done to get an in-depth understanding about the various complaints distributors and outlets receive from the customers. The qualitative part also addresses certain recommendations provided by the GP distributors and outlets that will help to enhance the performance of GP and thus make it a much better company to be part of. By interviewing different GP distributors and outlets in the five districts of Bangladesh, we have gathered an idea about the various complaints received by them and an idea about what they think the ideal GP should be.
Recommendations provided by distributors/ dealers/ agents for GP
The individual dealers, distributors and agents of GrameenPhone had provided certain recommendations that they believed if implemented would result in increase of GP’s service performance and thereby influence customer satisfaction as well as confidence in GP. Even though the dealers and agents are proud and honored to be a part of GP, they believe that certain changes will help not only them; but in the long run GP itself.
Since it is not possible to cover all the recommendations made by the individuals, the following offers a summarized version of the thoughts of dealers/distributors/agents who wish to see themselves grow along with GP.
- Value Added Services should be increased, for instance introduction of WAP and ISD facilities
- GP employees should be more properly trained regarding objection handling.
- More workshops should be conducted to educate village customers
- Allocation of sets should be based on performance of dealers.
- The existing infrastructure of GP should be developed. This is in order to meet the rising demands of its growing customer base.
- The dealers should be assigned the responsibility of activation of lines. This will lead to reduction of hassles from lengthy activation time periods.
- It is believed that if the reporting method was made via internet, it would provide much faster and accurate information interchange between the outlets and GP
- Communication between GP and dealers should be made easier by assigning specific dialing number like ‘123’ for only the dealers.
- Certain scratch card providers believe that they should be allowed the opportunity to sell GP subscriptions. They believe that they are competent enough to sell GP subscriptions and should be allowed the opportunity to prove their worth.
- Information regarding the launching of new campaigns by GP should be disclosed to the dealers and agents at least one or two days before the actual launching of the campaign. This will allow the dealers/agents some time to prepare for the campaign.
- The instructions provided by GP to the subscribers should be written in Bangla. This will greatly assist the general customer base as most are not able to understand English. This will also reduce the pressure on the dealer/agents to a great extent.
- The scratch cards provided to the individual dealers/distributors/agents should be made within on fixed slab. The dealers’ view, especially those operating outside the city areas, is that this will ensure equal distribution of cards to all dealers. The customers most commonly demand the TK.300 cards. However, according to them there tends to be cases of partiality during the distribution of cards.
- The commission of the dealers/distributors/agents should be paid regularly. This will result in increased motivation and effort on the part of the dealers/distributors/agents.
- Most customers prefer the prepaid system, as this system tends to reduce the hassle of bill payment. It will thus prove profitable if they further develop the prepaid system and make it more available to the target market.
- Some dealers, who belong to a larger parent concern and for whom GP subscription is another form of income, prefer that information required by them should not pass via their head office; but interaction should be directly with the GP employees. This will reduce unnecessary time and information loss.
- Increasing the amount of commission received from GP will tend to increase the motivation of the dealers/distributors/agents. This thought is more prevalent among those dealers operating outside the city limits. They believe that the amount of commission they receive is not enough after bearing costs of repeated fax to GP in cases of activation and transportation costs to GP office from their respective areas of operation.
- Dealers believe that decreasing the air time to Tk.2 per minute and decrease the national rate to TK.5 per minute. According to them, lowering the rates will increase the attraction of prospective customers towards GP.
- Another major recommendation from dealers operating outside city limits is that they believe that providing more promotional material will help improve sales in that region. They ask GP to provide more promotional materials and even encourage GP to use television as a media for addressing the mass population.
- Scratch cards should be supplied to the various outlets thru the GP distribution system. This will provide more security to the dealers who at times take great risk to carry the scratch cards all the way from Dhaka to their respective areas of operation.
- GP should provide more gifts towards customers. These may be in the form of small pocket calendars, diaries etc. These are nothing but certain frills that GP should undertake to show the customer that they care.
Analysis and Findings
Q 1: How long you are working as a dealer/agent of GP?
Interpretation: Most of dealers are working with the GP whose working duration is 3 to 6 years and more than 3 to 6 years.
Q 2: Are you satisfied by the commission you are getting from GP?
Interpretation: 50% of respondents have answered that they are satisfied with their commission and around 30% have answered that they are neutral on this issue.
Q 3: Response of any problem from GP is-
Interpretation: 50% of the respondents think that they are satisfied about the response from GP about any problem.
Q 4: Are you getting the supply of your required demand on time?
Interpretation: 50% respondents from total respondents are agreed that they get the supply on time.
Q 5: Do you think you are properly evaluated as a dealer or agent of GP, by GP?
Interpretation: 35% of the respondent thinks that they are properly evaluated by GP, and 40% are neutral and 25% said no.
Q 6: In future will you like to work with GP?
Interpretation: About the issue of staying with GP, the 45% respondents are agree and 25% respondents had no comments on this question.
- From the regression analysis, we have found that the value of R square is .5815
That means the independent variables (quick supply of product, on time response, commission rate, agent evaluation, process dealership, willingness to stay with GP) has 58.15% impact over the dependent variable (the level of satisfaction as a dealer of GP).
Dealers claim that sometimes delivery of product are not regular, so GP need to improve their product supply chain more strong.
Some cases GP face threat of their commission that they give to their dealers because their competitors are a threat of that. So need to be increasing their commission to safe their position.
GP need to enhance the cooperation and interaction with its dealers and agents to get the actual market scenario. Because they directly deals with customers and retailers.
GP can take some steps like incentive increase, reward by which dealers and agents can be motivated and increase their effort.
GrameenPhone Ltd is still a growing company, in spite of all the success it has achieved so far. It holds kind of a monopoly position in the mobile telecommunications market. However, it cannot afford to get complacent. Competition is always on the lookout for new ideas and schemes. In order to maintain its number one position in the market, it is imperative that GP focus on the people who matter most to the companies- the people. Now the various dealers, distributors, outlets, and/or agents are GP’s representatives to the people. It is the impression that these individuals create that will influence people’s impression of GP. It is thus highly important for GP to act favorably towards these individuals, give them as much support and assistance as possible. GP must make time to hear the feelings and views of these individuals.
In order to be a successful company, GP must take care of all its employees, no matter how small they are. It is these employees that make up GP. GP must make it so that these dealers and agents can proudly say that they belong to the family of GrameenPhone.
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