Building a Strong, Customer-Friendly MVNO Fighter Brand
In Sweden, consumers rely on four major mobile operators. It’s often a struggle for those brands to reach certain market segments, such as students and other more budget-conscious customers. Some big players have created a new approach to address this need: the “fighter” brand.
Each of the larger companies in Sweden has a fighter brand—essentially a smaller, no-frills MVNO that sits under the larger telco’s umbrella. These fighter brands can target a market segment more effectively than the main brand.
Vimla is such a fighter brand, part of Telenor. We offer the same network quality as Telenor but reach the customer in different ways, providing network access options without necessarily offering all of the supplementary services of the premium brand. Creating the fighter brand has given Swedish consumers more choice and shifted how Sweden thinks of mobile operators.
An Upward Trajectory for Vimla
Before being part of Vimla, I was part of Telenor, working in their complaints department. When I came to Vimla eight years ago, the team consisted of four people: the CEO, the customer support chief manager, a support consultant, and me, the head of operations. Today, I am head of governance and operations, looking after the telco stack, security, regulatory, and privacy.
Sweden’s telecom industry is regulated by the PTS, a government entity responsible for electronics and telecommunications. Other businesses can decide to offer a new product and simply start selling that product when it’s ready, but Swedish telcos have to be compliant with more regulations.
Despite regulatory challenges, we must remain innovative when trying to reach new audiences. In the beginning, we used a unique referral campaign method: When a current customer referred a new customer, the current customer received a credit on their monthly statement. If the existing customer referred enough people, they would receive a free subscription.
We were the first in Sweden to introduce this program, and it successfully attracted customers who had concerns about a fighter brand’s network quality. We focused on being the “user-friendly” operator, with a simple offering and transparent terms of service. For instance, we didn’t have different price plans for existing customers and new customers. Everyone had the same plan, which helped create trust, especially as we were getting started.
We celebrated small milestones during our early years, but before long, we gained a larger share of the market and celebrated other achievements. We won the title of best mobile operator in Sweden five years in a row. And in 2022, Vimla won an award from the Swedish Consumer Index, which rates brands across different industries and identifies Sweden’s happiest or most satisfied customers in those areas.
Vimla has helped elevate the conversation around Sweden’s fighter brands and the alternative to the big companies. And to ensure continued success, we needed to continue to put the customer journey front and center.
Flexibility and Customization Are Everything
Even though we’re an independent brand, Vimla is a part of Telenor. Lucky for us, Telenor and Enghouse Networks are long-time partners. Telenor had used Enghouse solutions for years, and when they bought CDRator, Vimla was the first case in Sweden to use the Rator business support system (BSS).
The decision to use Rator was simple. Telenor was already using Rator in different markets worldwide for small fighter brands. When we evaluated other companies on the market, we found that Rator’s services were closer to what we needed and had more opportunities for customizing the customer journey than anyone else.
Big operators usually utilize multiple systems for various offerings or features, and often those systems were developed separately. In Rator, we have a complete package for rating, billing, customer care, and self-care. Because we don’t have any legacy dependencies, everything works seamlessly in a self-reliant system.
Rator handles all our processing of call and message data records (not the actual message, but the event of it happening). The BSS lets us provision subscriptions and campaigns by handling what appears on the customers’ invoices and campaigns for discounts, extra data, or other features. For the big operators, launching a new campaign can take weeks or months since they have to ensure that whatever they’re launching works correctly among all their different systems. But Rator allows us to have a campaign out in a couple of hours if necessary.
Rator is incredibly easy to configure, and we can make changes quickly without relying on outside help. That’s a big deal for us. Even though our team has grown, it’s still relatively small at 50 people, 25 of whom are in customer support.
The flexibility and customization Rator offers are worth everything, and that’s what makes them different. While other vendors offer services for ratings, provisioning, and campaigns, the easy and flexible customization options are unique to Enghouse, and they make us a unique MVNO, too.
A Valuable and Mutually Beneficial Relationship
Rator is easy to manage. We can handle most maintenance on our own, but we always have the support of Enghouse available when needed. We have at least weekly contact with Enghouse, and during these conversations, we often talk about changes we’d like to see. We also work with Enghouse to investigate problems and look ahead to proactively address any issues we foresee down the line.
If you’re looking to set up a new MVNO, be open with your partners about what you want to achieve and flexible about how you might get there. Having an open discussion helps everyone. You’re the expert on what you want as a customer, and they’re the experts in how their product can help you get there. Flexibility in the approach will be a huge advantage.
When we deployed Rator, we started using everything immediately, incorporating about 100 hefty modifications and customizations. Over the years, Enghouse has watched our customizations, recognized their value, and enabled them as part of the core product. Today, we’re involved in high-level discussions about what might be valuable to Rator’s core product. They’ve been very open and willing to discuss how they should build their service to ensure our happiness as a customer. Our needs change over time, and it’s great to work with a partner whose products reflect those changes.
Carving out space for a new brand in a fast-paced market isn’t easy, especially as an MVNO. With Enghouse as a partner and Rator on board, we’re making tremendous headway and bringing success to Telenor. Ultimately, it’s about providing Swedish consumers with more and better choices so everyone can find something that fits their needs.