Reality Check: When customers are empowered, everyone wins


Editor’s Note: Welcome to our weekly Reality Check column. We’ve gathered a group of visionaries and veterans in the mobile industry to give their insights into the marketplace.

“The customer is always right” is an axiom that has never held more truth than in today’s hypercompetitive mobile market. Subscribers around the world have become accustomed to always-on mobile services, instant delivery of new apps and mobile engagement based on location and preferences. They expect much more than simply having their device connected and they are not afraid to exercise their power when it comes to demanding a flawless, personalized experience from their operator or application provider. After all, there is a myriad of choices at their fingertips.

The good news for operators is that customer empowerment presents significant revenue-generating and competitive-differentiation opportunities.

Elevating brand value and subscriber loyalty at home and abroad

Many of the most prominent issues with the potential to impact subscriber usage and perception of an operator’s brand happen while roaming. While operators have excelled at implementing advanced monitoring capabilities within their own networks, they often have limited visibility into their partners’ networks, which limits the capability to identify and resolve subscriber issues that occur while subscribers travel the globe. Regardless of where the issue occurs, one thing is for sure: The jilted subscriber will blame his or her home service provider for the poor experience. As a result, brands are at risk.

An example that has grabbed headlines worldwide is subscriber bill shock resulting from use of mobile services while traveling abroad. Although usage terms are clearly spelled out in subscribers’ contracts, they often do not realize how much data they are using or even which services require a data feed to function. Consequently, they return to a higher-than-expected monthly bill and naturally take out their frustrations on their home provider’s customer service line, or worse, venting to friends, family and possibly even the media.

The quality of experience issue is quickly becoming a concern of the past, as operators turn to real-time intelligence solutions that provide deep, actionable and immediate insights into subscriber experience activity both at home and while roaming to send proactive alerts to subscribers before they exceed predefined usage thresholds. In simple terms, RTI involves instantaneously capturing, analyzing and acting upon all available subscriber experience data flowing across an operator’s network to enhance the user experience, improve revenue and protect the brand.

Delivering a seamless mobile experience, anytime, anywhere

While RTI solutions have been very successful in helping operators prevent unexpectedly high roaming charge backs, addressing bill shock is just one example of the potential. Those looking to truly elevate their subscribers’ experience over the competition are leveraging RTI further to alleviate other experience-impacting issues that occur on visited networks.

Consider the scenario when a subscriber travels outside of the country and his or her phone fails to register upon landing due to an issue with the visited provider’s network. This presents not only a potential threat to an operator’s brand but also lost revenue, as subscribers cannot use income-generating services and often times cannot even contact the home provider to notify them of a problem. If they are able to contact the call center, material time and resources are expended trying to pinpoint the problem occurring within a partner’s network.

To be successful, RTI must provide visibility across major roaming, messaging and data usage activity on networks across the globe. By combining up-to-the-minute information about key end-user experience events, such as failure to register on a roaming partner’s network, with historical trend analysis, operators can identify unusual activity or lack thereof before a customer’s experience is negatively impacted. By avoiding those problems, RTI helps the operator protect its brand while avoiding unnecessary expenses such as additional customer-support calls and make-good credits.

Giving a voice to the silent roamer – a $1 billion-plus opportunity

Beyond basic cost saving and issue prevention, a tremendous opportunity exists to generate new revenue by identifying and enticing “silent roamers,” those subscribers traveling abroad who have either turned off or significantly curtailed their use of mobile services while away from home due to cost concerns, via RTI.

With visibility into more than 800 operator networks globally, Syniverse sees an average of 75 million unique outbound roamers each month. According to these insights as well as third party data from Informa Telecoms & Media, 50% of those roamers do not use voice services, and 70% do not use data services, representing a staggering $1.2 billion per year in missed revenue for operators.

RTI provides the key to realizing this revenue, allowing operators to identify individual “silent roamers” and provide them with special offers to incentivize them to use their devices. For example, a budget-conscious student may decide to turn off his data capabilities during a study-abroad trip to save money, but he may be willing to pay a flat fee for a set number of megabytes if offered the option on the spot.

Closing gaps with RTI

For consumers, the primary appeal of mobile is anytime, anywhere access to information, friends and family. RTI leverages that appeal by empowering subscribers with real-time information that eliminates uncertainty over usage and charges, instead of leaving users to wonder and worry whether their next call, text or video stream will put them over their monthly limit. RTI also enables another type of worry-free predictability: that their phone, tablet or other device will work flawlessly even when they’re traveling in another country.

As we move toward an increasingly consumer-centric mobile ecosystem, operators must find ways to close the gap created by leaps in service capabilities that have not yet been matched by the advanced monitoring and customer care mechanisms required to support end-user expectations. They also must fill the void generated by increased network demands and diminishing voice and messaging usage. The answer to both lies in RTI, and those operators who begin to leverage its power today will stay ahead in the increasingly consumer-centric and dynamic mobile ecosystem.

Jeffrey S. Gordon is President and CEO of Syniverse and serves as a member of the Board of Directors. Gordon joined Syniverse in 2008 as CTO and was most recently the company’s COO. In these executive leadership positions, he was responsible for the product realization, research and development, and the company’s global technology operations on five continents. Gordon also represents Syniverse on the Board of Directors for both CTIA and The Wireless Foundation. Prior to Syniverse, he held a number of executive roles at Convergys, most recently as SVP of Industry Solutions. Other past experience includes a wide range of key technology assignments at Bell Atlantic and IBM. Gordon, who is the co-author of seven U.S. patents relating to systems architecture and wireless communications, earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering with honors from Purdue University and is a graduate of the IBM Systems Research Institute.

About Author

Dan Meyer

Editor-in-Chief, Telecom Software, Policy, Wireless Carriers
Dan Meyer started at RCR Wireless News in 1999 covering wireless carriers and wireless technologies. As editor-in-chief, Dan oversees editorial direction, reports on news from the wireless industry, including telecom software, policy and wireless carriers, and provides opinion stories on topics of concern to the market such as his popular Friday column “Worst of the Week.”