DTAC boss bets on customer focus and network expansion
TOTAL Access Communication (DTAC), with new chief executive officer Alexandra Reich at the helm, is banking on its greater customer focus, a rapid network expansion and its cross-functional teamwork to better serve customers and grow its business.
Whether DTAC is the third- or second-largest cellular operator matters less than the company being an important player in the industry, adding that she wants to stop the trend of losses in market share by revenue, Reich told The Nation.
“We want to do the best for customers. We've around 21 million customers, who really love DTAC and we care about them,” said Reich, 54.
From being the second-largest cellular service provider in Thailand in terms of subscribers, DTAC has slipped to third place.
Reich said that DTAC is rolling out its 2.3GHz network and densifying its 2.1GHz network at a blazing speed to bring a better service to customers. She added that DTAC would keep on bringing innovative ideas and services to the market.
“We want to do what customers really need. There is so much change in the market now. What we're working on now is to understand in which directions people are moving and how can we best serve them,” she said.
DTAC group currently operates on multiple spectrum bands, including the 2.1GHz under a licence from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC). It has also partnered with TOT to provide 4G services on the state agency’s 2.3GHz band.
DTAC’s subsidiary DTAC TriNet was one of the two winning bidders at a recent auction held by the NBTC for the 1800MHz licences.
She added that DTAC has also conducted a lot of research into consumer behaviour and deployed advanced technology to help it gain more insights into what consumers want now and in the years to come. However, Reich, a former golfer, said she would not rush DTAC to achieve all these goals in just one single stroke.
“We need to take time. We should not rush. One thing I’ve learn in the last 45 years is that sometimes you have to be patient. As long as you know where you're heading to, you will succeed,” she said.
DTAC has increased the number of agile taskforces comprising staff from different departments - from sales to technology - who will work together more closely in order to give customers a better service experience. The management team has also devoted more attention to identifying the pain points of the customers and the results of the brainstorming sessions will drive DTAC’s responses.
Reich, an Austrian national, officially took the top job at DTAC in August. She had served as CEO of Telenor Hungary and head of Telenor Group’s Central Eastern Europe cluster. Telenor, a giant Norwegian telecom operator, is DTAC’s foreign strategic partner.
The new CEO stepped into DTAC as one of the most important moments in its history was playing out. She took the reins in the lead-up to the end of the company’s concession for services on 1800MHz and 850MHz, on September 15, after 28 years of operation under a concession from CAT Telecom.
On top of that, with just days before the concession expiry, the NBTC dug in in its refusal to allow DTAC to continue using 850MHz services for an interim period that would have given its customers more time to migrate to other networks.
With these issues to contend with, the words of her predecessor at DTAC, Lars Norling, have rung true. He told that she will never have a dull moment at DTAC – and that he is 100 per cent sure that she is the right person for DTAC now.
DTAC had to resort to filing a lawsuit before the Central Administrative Court on September 6 that sought temporary protection for its 850MHz customers. The court on September 14 granted the protection to DTAC, allowing it to continue using the 850 MHz spectrum until December 15.
With her hectic work schedule, it’s little wonder that Reich has not been able to find time to indulge her passion for golf in Thailand.
She said that she started out in her golf career as a child, crediting her father for getting her into the sport.
“And the only way to be close to him was playing golf with him,” Reich said. “I spent a lot time with my father on the golf courses. I have had a very close relationship with my father all my life. He was my motivation to start playing golf.”
The second motivation to take up the sport came from the opportunity to travel the world as a young girl playing in a golf team, said Reich, who was on the Austrian national golf team for 20 years.
She said that one thing she has learnt from golf is “to stay humble” as in golf, every day is different.
“Whenever you think you know this game or you can play this game, the next day you might get a disastrous day. If you stay humble and happy about every good stroke you're doing, that's OK,” she said.
Reich added that she loves to compete – and with a sense of fair play. “If someone does a good shot, I also respect a good shot and that’s the very same thing in business,” she said.