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Anyone exposed to a teenager has been witness to the hand raise and muttering of the letters “TMI” (a.k.a. too much information). I may not be hip to all of the latest and greatest in texting lingo but this one seems appropriate when I hear reports on mobile data volumes and predictions, such as those recently released by Cisco. The sheer volume is hard to grasp: 10.8 exabytes of mobile data worldwide per month by 2016; or 130 exabytes annually, an amount equivalent to 33 billion DVDs.
Yes, the data is big and yes, it continues to grow. But what does this growth really mean to the operator and just as important, to the customer? Overcoming the challenge of scaling and maintaining networks to handle these data volumes remains a top priority for operators. You want your customers to increase usage – hoping to create dependent, loyal, and profitable users – but the success of increased usage is often tainted by the risk of an overwhelmed network’s impact on the customer experience. The “bill shock” dilemma continues to be top of mind as well. Saying goodbye to unlimited data plans requires consumers to understand their data usage, i.e. how many gigabytes are really needed to browse the Web, send pictures to friends and stay connected to Facebook.
So how are operators minimizing the long term risk of dropped calls, slowed usage, and bill shock? Ironically – the answer is in what’s causing the risk – the data.
The key is turning that TMI into actionable intelligence that allows you to communicate with your customers when it matters most.
Have you ever been to a high-end restaurant and waited a long time to get your food without anyone providing an update or an apology? For me, once I have to initiate the “how much longer?” inquiry, the experience is tarnished – regardless of how amazing the food may be. Now compare that to your local hangout that serves “good enough” food but always ensures that your glass is full, you have an estimate on when your food will be ready and even a complimentary appetizer when your wait extends beyond the acceptable mark. It’s not a matter of who has the best; it’s a matter of who delivers the best experience.
Operators have the data to know what products and services a customer is using, when they use them, how they use them and even why they use them. What many don’t have are the analytical tools to determine those insights in an efficient and effective real time manner and just as important, take immediate action based on those insights.
By understanding how an individual customer is interacting with their network and products over time – versus how the network is performing as a whole or taking a customer snapshot at a point in time – operators are preventing potentially negative experiences and instead, engaging with customers in ways that build trust and loyalty.
Let’s take billing events as an example. Billing events provide information through CDRs, but more importantly these events can be vital touch points with customers. What operators often underplay is that every interaction adds or detracts from the customer experience. Something as seemingly benign as a bill is the biggest touch point operators have with their customers. It can either meet a customer’s expectation or deliver an unwelcomed surprise.
The recent CTIA rulings on billing alerts are bringing this issue to light. Instead of viewing this as another box to tick, operators should be looking at billing events as another way to intelligently engage with the customer. Through dynamic analysis of a vast amount of data points, an operator can deliver relevant information based on a customer’s current needs and context. For example:
–If a customer has a contract ending within a year, identify any plan misalignments prior to the expiration date. Check usage again at nine months prior, six months prior and three months prior to ensure the customer is on the right plan and prevent any questioning of value at the time of renewal.
–Identify a customer at risk of exceeding their data limits. Proactively alert them to move to a better plan in advance of the overage and provide supporting usage information to validate the need for plan change and potential future savings.
–Examine a customer’s usage and promote targeted value-added services that align to their changing needs or recent behavior.
–If there has been a billing inquiry or dispute, examine prior history as well as follow the customer’s behavior after the incident to ensure other potential discrepancies are not occurring – and if they are, proactively communicate your resolution plan prior to customer initiation.
The difference in approach is the method of monitoring the customer experience from the standpoint of individuals over time rather than looking at customer experience from the standpoint of the network, a cell tower, or a cell site. As an operator, you may not be alarmed by “X” number of dropped calls for a cell site in “X” amount of hours, but for that one customer who has suffered four or five dropped calls – it might be a deal breaker.
Don’t let these opportunities for engagement pass by. Data and analytics should drive your approach to making your customers feel cared for through intelligent and relevant alerts and communications. Every network has “hiccups,” but not every service provider is uniquely personal in how they engage with customers. It’s time to turn the TMI into a little TLC for your customers.