Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Wednesday, Apr 17, 2002
Info-Tech - Telecommunications
Touchtel talks direct to market phone services
One of many Touchtel hoardings that have come up in Chennai.
CHENNAI, April 16
HOW about a telephone connection that allows you to forward calls from your home or office to your mobile phone, or one that offers you voice mail at home so you can get messages without having to fork out a substantial sum for an answering machine?
Well, these are just two of the value added services that Touchtel, the recently launched basic telephone service brand from Bharti Telenet Ltd, is offering its customers in Chennai.
Mr K. Krishnan, Chief Executive Officer, TN Circle, Bharti Telenet
Mr K. Krishnan, the company's Chief Executive Officer for the Tamil Nadu circle, told Business Line that Touchtel's promotional strategy would focus on the 25-odd `value plus' services available to customers. And while some of these additional services are currently available free, they would be priced in the future, but at reasonable rates, says Mr Krishnan. The voice mail facility, for instance, will cost an extra Rs 20 a month, he says. The differentiation will not be on price, but more on quality and the value-added services offered, he adds.
And instead of indulging in `carpet-bombing' by targeting all telephone users in the city, the company will go in for focused, direct marketing in areas in which its services are currently available or are likely to be available very soon, says Mr K.S. Venugopal, Head-Marketing. So instead of mass media campaigns, the company is opting for promotions directed at the areas and consumer segments it's targeting.
For instance, starting today, the company will be conducting roadshows for target customers in those parts of the city where the service is already operational, says Mr Venugopal. Similarly, its earlier awareness generation activities were directed at specific segments such as top-end corporate users, public call offices (PCOs), homes and commercial users in specific parts of the city.
So, for creating awareness among major corporates, the company chose to send direct mailers to around 1,500 business houses in the city. The mailer, while introducing the brand (It was called Airtel then) to the prospects, sought their views on existing services and the need gaps. The basic service brand was differentiated from the cellular brand and renamed Touchtel.
In January this year, the company sent mailers in Tamil to a large number of the PCO operators in the city. This was followed in March by a `mela' for PCO operators. According to Mr Venugopal, the response to the event was tremendous, with 1,100 of the 1,200 or so invitees turning up.
The `mela' introduced the participants to the company and the various packages it offers, in addition to showcasing Touchtel merchandise, including telephones and telephone booths, says Mr Jose Thankamony, Manager, Brand Communications & Residential Marketing.
The event was such a success that the company plans to conduct similar events as its launches in other parts of the State, he adds. Touchtel also plans to launch loyalty programmes for the PCO operators linked to usage of the service.
For generating awareness of the brand among domestic consumers, the company opted to send direct mailers along with a New Year greeting card, says Mr Thankamony. And on April 3, the day the service was launched in Chennai, the company marked the `auspicious occasion' by distributing coconuts in select areas with information packs to its target customers, he adds.
Efforts such as these are being supported by a strategic outdoor campaign that projects the overall corporate brand. The campaign, which extends to hoardings and shelters at bus stops, is intended to build brand salience, says Mr Krishnan.
According to him, the company has already signed on around 2,000 customers from across the city. Touchtel is aiming at installing 100,000 lines in the next year, of which 65,000 is the target for Chennai alone, says Mr Krishnan. The company acknowledges that it will face tough competition from BSNL, which operates Chennai Telephones.
Chennai has among the highest tele-densities in the country with 176.4 phones per 1,000. While rental and phone charges are on par with BSNL, Touchtel hopes to make a difference with its superior customer service (it promises a phone in four to six weeks from registration) like a 24-hour customer call centre.
The company also claims that quality of voice and speed of data download for the Net will be high as no phone will be more than two km from its exchange. It will have 60 exchanges in the city. It's also looking at introducing the DSL (digital subscriber line) facility, which allows users to receive voice calls even as they are connected to the Internet, in the next few months.
The company, which has launched its basic services in Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, New Delhi and Karnataka, is all set to launch operations in other parts of Tamil Nadu over the next several weeks. Next on its list are Vellore, Madurai, Tirupur, Coimbatore and Hosur, the latter where data transfer needs are high for several corporates who have factories located there.
WHEN Three Roses, Kollywood's take on Charlie's Angels hits theatres, Touchtel will have reason to cheer it on. For the brand's sleek telephone booth made of fibre board with the brand emblazoned prominently, also stars in the film.
According to Mr Venugopal, a few film producers saw the branded Touchtel booths at the `mela' organised for PCO operators and immediately signed it on the cast. And that's not all.
The Touchtel booth also caught the fancy of several other film crews. It also features in a couple of other films that are under production, including Run and Panchatanthram.
Send this article to Friends by E-Mail
Stories in this Section
The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | The Sportstar | Frontline | Home |
Copyright © 2002, The
Hindu Business Line. Republication or redissemination of the contents of
this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of
The Hindu Business Line