​Jeff Kagan: Why AT&T Keeps Winning Awards

Jeff Kagan  |

Via Ron Cogswell & Mike Mozart

AT&T has been winning some very impressive awards lately. In fact, if you pull the camera back, they have been winning these awards on an ongoing basis for quite a few years. So, what’s going on over at good ole Ma Bell? I spoke with Glenn Lurie about it. Lurie is President and CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Operations. The conversation was eye opening.

What I learned is valuable to every investor, worker, executive, partner and customer of the company whether that means consumers or business customers. I thought you’d like to hear some of what we talked about, so that’s the focus of this column.

First, once again, AT&T (T) just won the JD Power Award for “wireless purchase experience”. That’s in addition to the JD Power award from a few weeks ago for “wireless customer care”. In addition, they were named the Most Admired Telecommunications Company in the World by FORTUNE Magazine, once again for three years in a row.

These awards say AT&T is changing. Growing. Expanding. At the same time, they are taking good care of their customers as they grow. So, if you are looking for the key reason for their success, this may be it.

Glenn Lurie, President and CEO of AT&T Mobility Explains Reason for Success

I’ve known Glenn Lurie for more years than I can remember. I asked him about the changes and the growth, and about taking care of customers along the way. He says it’s all part of the big picture. Part of the larger, long-term plan. He says nothing is by accident. The reason customers are happy is simply because that’s the focus of the entire organization.

That was refreshing to hear. We all deal with assorted companies that drive us nuts. In that world, it’s very good to hear about a company that understands the business from the customer perspective.

It’s like what Herb Kelleher, ex-CEO of Southwest Airlines (LUV) always said. If you take good care of customers, they will take good care of you. AT&T seems to understand this core principle and they are being rewarded for it with a loyal and growing customer base. I only wish every other companies would do the same thing.

Lurie talks about how the entire space is evolving, growing and changing. And how AT&T is taking a leadership position in redefining the entire new space. I think that means yesterday, all competitors were on the same page. When one was doing well, so were the others. Yesterday, they were all the same type of company operating in different parts of the country.

However, going forward, they are not on the same page. Going forward, they are taking different paths for growth and are becoming different players. Going forward, they can’t be compared any longer. So, each carrier should be judged by themselves. That’s difficult, but that’s what tomorrow looks like.

AT&T is heading in a different direction from Verizon (VZ), Sprint (S), T-Mobile (TMUS), CenturyLink (CTL), Comcast (CMCSA), Charter (CHTR) and others. Over the last decade, the direction has split into many different paths. In this new world, AT&T finds itself with multiple directions for growth.

AT&T Wins JD Power, FORTUNE Magazine Awards, Once Again

In fact, the AT&T of today cannot be described as just a phone company any longer. Going forward, AT&T is heading in multiple new directions. In fact, if you take a closer look, you can see these new directions. And they are balancing growth while continuing to focus on making the customer happy according to JD Power and FORTUNE.

Ten years ago, the Apple (AAPL) iPhone and Google (GOOG) Android were introduced. AT&T rode the smartphone growth wave for years. Now, that iPhone and Android growth wave is slowing, so AT&T is expanding into several other important paths for growth.

Consider the last few years. They acquired DirecTV and are transforming it. They are focused on growth with DirecTV Now. Next, they introduced wireless TV or mobile TV which lets customers watch live TV on their mobile devices like their smartphone or tablet. This is sending competitors like Comcast, Charter and Verizon back to the drawing board trying to compete.

Another exciting area is the automotive industry. AT&T has taken the leadership position among all carriers working with car companies and delivering innovation and new services. Car companies like being able to offer new technology to their customers.

This gives AT&T a competitive advantage in this new space. New tech like wireless connectivity, streaming television and movies, Internet access and so much more let the car talk with the manufacturer and download updates to improve the ride and reliability.

New Segments like GigaPower Internet, AI, IoT, Cloud, Smart Cities

Industry after industry from retail to heath care to sales seems to be lining up to take advantage of wireless connectivity, GigaPower ultra-high speed Internet, AI, IoT, the cloud, VR and so much more. Smart cities are a rapidly growing area. So are smart companies, smart homes and smart cars.

I could go on all day, but you get the point. There are many new areas and they are all focused on high growth going forward. Tomorrow will look much different from the world we live in today. Just like today is much different from the world we lived in ten or twenty years ago. Remember, the iPhone and Android didn’t even exist just ten short years ago. Things change quickly.

If that’s the case, what will the industry look like in a few short years? AT&T sees many different and new growth opportunities in the years ahead, and they are rapidly moving toward many of them, step by step. They compete in more sectors than any other competitor in the space. Wireless, telephone, Internet, IPTV, DirecTV, wireless TV or mobile TV and so much more like the cloud, IoT, AI, the cloud and so on.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson Making Big Bets and Winning So Far

CEO Randall Stephenson is making some very big bet’s over the last decade, and they seem to be really paying off. The good news is they are taking good care of their customers along the way. They are continuing to make investments and continue to grow.

The year 2016 was a big year for the company with integration, expansion and growth in a variety of different segments. I see that continuing through 2017 and beyond. With all that growth, the icing on top of the cake is all these awards from places like JD Power and FORTUNE Magazine.

It will be very interesting to watch how AT&T continues to change, continues to expand and to grow. The AT&T of today is much better and much different from the phone company of one decade ago. And it will be very interesting to watch the executives like Stephenson and Lurie mold the company in new directions going forward.

Jeff Kagan is an Equities.com columnist. Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, Industry Analyst, speaker and consultant. He follows wireless, wire line, telecom, Internet, cable TV, IPTV, Cloud, Mobile Pay, FinTech and communications technology. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com. His web site is www.jeffKAGAN.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeffkagan


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