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MTN upgrades Play

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MTN has revamped its content portal, MTN Play, with an enhanced user interface and better delivery of digital products and services.

First introduced in 2009, the portal caters for a range of mobile handsets and operating systems, from very basic models to the most advanced smartphones and tablets.

“The new-look MTN Play is much more than a digital portal for music,”” says Christian De Faria, MTN Group Chief Commercial Officer. “”Key improvements include better usability, a fresher and more appealing look, easier site navigation, better content categorisation, end user customisation and flexible payment options.””

De Faria says the recent success of the MTN-branded Opera Mini browser, along with customer insights, points to an MTN footprint that’s poised for exponential growth in data usage.

‚””This has necessitated MTN’s renewed focus on MTN Play as a key product.‚””

He says MTN wanted to come up with a full-fledged digital platform that would be the emerging markets’ foremost repository of home grown content, apps and digital services.

‚””I believe we have achieved that with MTN Play, which is truly a one-stop shop that represents the very best of what’s available locally and abroad. This means for MTN customers, it becomes just as easy to download the very latest song from an international artist as it is to get the latest local hit song,‚”” says De Faria.

De Faria says the upgrading of MTN Play is in keeping with MTN’s affirmation that a strong focus on digitisation will usher in a new world order for emerging markets, where access to education, financial services and entertainment content is merely at a click of button.

Accordingly, MTN launched a multi-channel global brand campaign this week, which pronounces its views on the potential of emerging markets. The campaign is largely premised on the digitisation of the ICT industry in these markets. Titled ‚””Welcome to the New World,‚”” the campaign articulates MTN’s belief that emerging markets are on the verge of a brand new world, where the distinction between the first and third world no longer exists, thanks to digitisation.

De Faria says there’s no greater sign of the new digital world than the explosion of social media, which is primarily accessed via mobile devices. To this end, MTN Play offers customers instant access to various social media platforms.

‚””Users on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and/or Google+ will be able to link all accounts onto their social site on MTN Play and view updates from all these social media sites in one place,‚”” says De Faria.

MTN Play users will also be able to update any or all social accounts directly from MTN Play in one go. This is in addition to being able to ‚’like’ and ‚’share’ content on MTN Play, and also buy it for friends and family.

Powered by IMImobile’s Da Vinci Content Management System (CMS), the new MTN Play portal reduces time to market for new services, keeping MTN at the forefront of innovative digital products and services.

With most of MTN’s markets in Africa largely still unbanked, MTN Play users do not need a credit or debit card to purchase content on the site. Users can make payments via MTN Mobile Money, e-vouchers, loyalty points or airtime.

The revamped MTN Play portal is now live in Rwanda, Uganda, Ghana and Zambia, with other MTN markets to follow.

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Telcos want one face

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The investments that telecommunications service providers are making in reshaping their online properties into customer-centric portals reflects the growing maturity of self-service and Internet uptake in the industry, says KEVIN MELTZER of Consology.

Many telcos around the world are overhauling their websites to offer customers more holistic portals that give them a single point of entry into the organisation.

They are doing so because they recognise that service will be a key point of differentiation for their businesses in a market that is becoming increasingly competitive. They have also realised that they have a major opportunity to shift customers away from expensive contact centres towards low-cost electronic channels.

In the past, most telecommunications operators ran multiple sites across multiple domains and subdomains. These web-based properties were built around the way that telcos structured their own businesses rather than around the needs of the customer. But we are now seeing the leading operators take a more user-centric approach to the way that they design their web and mobile sites.

This coincides with a change in the industry from slicing customers into numerous segments and then serving them across a range of functional and product areas. For example, many operators split customers into prepaid and postpaid segments or voice and data users, distinctions that are becoming less meaningful in a world of technology convergence. They now want to present a single face to the customer rather than servicing the subscriber through silos.

These changes are starting to percolate through to operators’ customer service and sales strategies. Telcos are starting to pull together disparate products and services that once resided across multiple sites into customer service portals.

These sites put a wide range of information at the subscriber’s fingertips, he adds. Increasingly, for example, subscribers can log directly into their accounts from the operator’s homepage and then access a wealth of services and information. This marks an evolution from the fractured and inconsistent customer experience of the past.

Leading operators are even thinking about how their Self-Service platforms should be integrated with social media strategies to allow customers to pay their electronic bills or top up airtime with a single click from within a social network.

Whereas Self-Service portals on telco sites were once purely about account management functions, they increasingly offer far richer functionality. In addition to allowing subscribers to pay their bills and check their account information, they are also increasingly becoming the first stop for service and commerce.

Operators have started to recognise that splintering their e-commerce, service and account management functions simply makes no sense. Customers want to be able to do everything through one interface rather than needing to visit two or three Web sites, or eventually possibly needing to phone a call centre or visit a store for certain transactions.

Integrated and easy to use online customer service channels will be central for telco operators who want to be competitive in the markets of tomorrow. They form an advantage in an industry where it will be customer relationships rather than cost or service that drive loyalty and purchasing decisions.

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Talk for less with MWEB Talk

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Today, MWEB announced its consumer VoIP package called MWEB Talk, which allows users to make free network calls and get discounted rates made to landlines and mobile phones.

MWEB, today launched its new Voice over IP (VoIP) offering to South African consumers. The service, MWEB Talk, will offer users’ free on network calls to fellow MWEB Talk users’ and cheap calls to landline and mobile phone numbers. This follows the success and demand of the ISP’s existing VoIP products in recent months.

‚”We have seen a noticeable transformation in users’ Internet behaviour with consumers wanting services that complement their ADSL connectivity solution. We have seen phenomenal growth and by the end of the year will deliver over 100 million minutes on our VoIP platform,‚” says Carolyn Holgate, General Manager of MWEB Connect, the ISP’s Consumer and Small Office/ Home Office Division.

MWEB has made significant investments in its infrastructure and VoIP has been prioritised on its network to ensure performance and stability of the MWEB Talk service for both businesses and consumers.

‚”In addition to the high quality of the service, MWEB Talk is also simple to set-up and users’ should experience a significant reduction in their telephone bills. By implementing a VoIP service consumers and small businesses can cut their monthly telecommunication bills by up to 55% to landline and mobile numbers,‚” says Holgate.

With no subscription fee, existing MWEB customers can log into their MWEB account, register for the service and download the application for PC and Mac as well as mobile applications that turn an iPhone, Android, and Nokia smartphone into a VoIP phone. Customers will also be able to purchase a Desktop VoIP Handset for R99 which will be HD voice ready and will support multi-extensions.

‚”We believe that VoIP is the future of telephony in South Africa and we are extremely excited to see the consumer market shift into the VoIP space,‚” concludes Holgate.

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