Preparing for Mobile World Congress 2012 with Great Anticipation

Posted: February 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Events, Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Preparing for Mobile World Congress 2012 with Great Anticipation

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a chance to blog, and a lot has happened in that time— you will see it when you visit us at Mobile World Congress (MWC) or online. Change wasn’t, however, the only reason for blogging.

While preparing for the event, I was reflecting on my past MWC experiences, and concluded that a lot is different, yet a lot is the same. What I mean is that we’re in the same place, Barcelona, in the same booth area, with many of the same companies and same people around us. But just like over the years we have evolved the frequency and way we travel around the world, our industry is undergoing a change, too.

Customers rightfully demand better value for money in terms of fairer treatment, better service and more interaction, and they are willing to spend more for premium treatment, like our recent study shows.

Just like me. I have recently had a few different customer engagement experiences and have decided to share one of them with you. It’s not specific to telecommunications but is an example in real-life customer experience nevertheless, and we all have these.

I have an ongoing issue with my car and its annual maintenance. Finland has quite a strict law on car maintenance, and for older cars, they are inspected annually for their condition. Well…I don’t drive an “old” car (over three years) but had the first inspection nonetheless. It didn’t go smoothly…

I had some pre-inspection maintenance carried out and got a green light from the shop. A truly very nice and helpful experience. I was also told that my issues with cruise control were now fixed. I then went to the inspection, and to my surprise, got two recommendations for corrections (with a notice of 10 days to fix them) for items that the maintenance report claimed were “checked and ok.” Not good.

Naturally, I called the maintenance shop, and have to say, I was given exemplary treatment. I was given the choice of my preference for the revisit time without any conditions, a free temporary car with no mileage limits and a very nice service manager who took as good care of me as he could in this case. The shop fixed the issues of the inspection and informed me when the car was ready via sms. It said that there were no charges, and explained what had happened, what they found out and what they did to fix the issues. The only problem is that the cruise control still doesn’t work.

I’m sure I will get great service once I’m able to return to the shop. I admit frustration that I need to visit it once more, but I know the staff acknowledged their error, will treat me well and will do their best to fix the problem. Not much more I can ask.

What is great about this experience is what makes a good treatment of a customer. The issue was not treated as the customer’s fault, plus keeping the customer informed and aware of what is being done, has been done and will be done in case the problem persists, is a great example of a real-time personalised treatment.

It would be great if the service was completed the right way the first time around, but technology can be complex and not very easy, so sometimes it just does not happen. Admitting failures, plus adapting to a customer’s schedule and needs, is a way to take care of a problem. Mistreatment, untimely communication or lack of engagement is a poor approach that can lead to further frustration and general customer dissatisfaction.

This is a level of engagement we all would like from our communications service providers (CSPs). With dropped calls, call scrambling, lack of bandwidth or network congestion, it would be great if the CSPs could immediately respond and inform that they have identified the issue and will do their utmost to give me, the customer, the best possible service at all the times. The good news is that the need to deliver a high-quality customer experience like this has been well acknowledged across the industry.

Like I said in the beginning, they require “change”, and Comptel is changing, too. We are passionate about helping CSPs engage with their customers in real time, and understand their customers’ personalised needs to interact at the right time with the right proposition in that specific condition. We hope to collaborate with CSPs to combine our knowledge to conquer the issues.

We have a lot to offer from self-care-driven, just-in-time activation of SIMs and services that enables service personalisation and dialogue-driven engagement with customers, to real-time, next-generation fulfillment and catalog-driven order management. Plus, Comptel can drive personalisation, quality of service (QoS) management and monetisation of data services with policy control and integrated charging, and support the explosion of transactions in the data-driven world with next-generation mediation. We also have recently added real-time predictive analytics to tie together our vision of ‘event-analysis-action’. It’s about making intelligent use of data to engage in a new way and to take actions towards improving the customer experience in real time. I think it’s beautiful.

I look forward to MWC 2012 and to meeting with as many new and old acquaintances as I can. Visit Comptel at Stand #1C06. Let’s ‘co’mmunicate!


Reflections on Comptel’s New Branding – “Making Data Beautiful”

Posted: February 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Behind the Scenes | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

‘I like not only to be loved but to be told I am loved.’

–English writer George Elliot (1819-1880)

If somebody had told me ten years ago that I would be talking about love in the context of telecommunications, I probably would have had an amused smile on my face and just continued with the technology and business jargon we used to have in conversations. Talking about beautiful data would have been an entertaining topic for the industry, where the competition was about the speed of launching new technology and compliance with standards.

The bright engineers, attractiveness of the communications service provider (CSP) business and innovations out of Silicon Valley have enabled, if not forced, a reasonably fast change of attitude in the telecommunications and Internet industries. We have left the era of measuring the customer experience by the technical metrics, for one where the customers should not only be loved but also shown love.

What has all of this to do with Comptel Corporation’s new brand, which I was supposed to discuss? Comptel plays a crucial role in helping CSPs show their love to their customers. We wanted this, plus the love for our own customers, the CSPs, and our partners, to be reflected in our new brand. Sounds complicated? It’s simple, really.

The rationale behind the brand is the fact that Comptel’s offering deals with processing a vast volume of data that is invisible below the surface. We collect this data in real time, turn it into actionable information and business intelligence for CSPs, and enable them to act on it—to better show their love to their customers. Ultimately, what we do helps people get closer to their interests and loved ones. We think this is beautiful.

At the core of the brand is the new Comptel logo. This bolder image heralds our fresh and confident approach to business, while the “co” of Comptel is highlighted as a constant reminder both internally and externally that we believe strongly in partnerships, bringing to mind words like “cooperate” and “collaborate”. Further, surrounding the “co” are two abstract, roughly formed letters “c” and “o”, which reference the data particles connecting the logo with our new tagline: “Making Data Beautiful”. The blue stands for our more than 25 years of experience, and the green conveys the renewal we are undergoing as a company.

We believe that a company’s brand is not simply about the way it looks, but it is rather the essence of the company. Fundamentally, a brand should encompass everything from the value added to customers and partners to the way a company communicates across all channels. This is exactly what we hope to embody with the new Comptel brand.

After three and half weeks as the head of marketing and communications of Comptel and jumping into the middle of the preparation to launch the new brand at Mobile World Congress, I can only be proud of my new colleagues who have worked hard to renew the business strategy and corporate values and who have now brought the new brand to life. We have started an exciting journey to turn around the company. I am happy to be a part of it and provide my personal ‘co’-promise: ‘Count on me’, too. Please visit us in Barcelona (Booth #1C06) and share your opinions on CSPs’ love for their customers and the beautiful data business.


Around the World

Posted: February 24th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Around the World

Microsperience…
First Touch, Last Touch, Every Touch
Analyst Teresa Cottam explains why every interaction that takes place between a communications service provider (CSP) and a customer is important. The CSP often perceives the first touch, or first customer engagement to be a sales transaction where it signs up a customer to receive a service. However, customers believe that their relationship with a CSP doesn’t just begin with a simple sale—it takes a longer period of time to cultivate.

Teresa uses a personal experience with an old broadband operator to explain how CSPs should build better relationships with customers. After mishandling her service transfer process, the operator made her wait 30 minutes on the phone, and a support assistant accused her of signing up for the wrong package and dismissed her concerns.

Teresa says this example emphasises issues that currently exist in the market, and proves that CSPs need the ability to analyse data in real time to get a better understanding of and retain their customers. CSPs need to focus on not just the first touch but any and every touch in order to build loyalty. She also notes that in today’s competitive market, even forgetting that ex-customers could be future customers is a missed revenue opportunity and could hinder CSPs’ success.

telecomasia.net…
APAC Telcos Concentrate on Quality
Joseph Waring gives an overview of a recent Telecom Asia-Ovum survey of telecom executives in 19 countries across Asia Pacific. The results revealed quality of service (QoS) to be the key distinguishing feature for operators in the region.

Interestingly, the survey also found that fewer respondents (38% compared to 54% two years ago) viewed unlimited data rates as the most effective way to charge for mobile broadband services. But Ovum analysts believe that the percentage of people who agree with this method is still too high, and urges operators to steer away from flat rates, which can over-burden networks and negatively impact QoS.

Additionally, survey respondents indicated that they believe video will be the key driver of continued mobile broadband traffic growth in Asia Pacific. Like Comptel, Ovum believes that operators must look to balancing the management of resources like bandwidth, while controlling customers’ data services, in order to maximise the customer experience and monetise their offerings.

CommsMEA…
Right Path for Roaming?
Industry experts wonder if recent Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) regulations could potentially cause more harm than good. These called for telecom operators to slash mobile phone roaming charges to consumers by at least 50 percent beginning 1 February in a bid to bring costs in line with those in Europe. Roaming revenues account for a significant proportion of overall profits for many CSPs, and a sudden forced reduction in tariffs may, unfortunately, lead to price increases, less investment in other areas and other unintended consequences.

But, there is evidence that Gulf operators are already moving in the right direction towards decreasing roaming tariffs without the regulations. Peter Lyons, director of spectrum policy, Africa & Middle East for the GSM Association (GSMA), says that operators responding to the competition are driving roaming costs down and that they are making an effort to increase the transparency of roaming rates. On the other hand, some point out that regulation is needed to protect against distortions in the market that can be created by dominant players. What do you think is the right path for the Gulf in terms of roaming?


Survey: Customers Need More Love from Their Mobile Operators

Posted: February 21st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Perfecting the customer experience has long been the goal for many communications service providers (CSPs). We certainly saw this issue reflected upon at last year’s Mobile World Congress. However, each year, as customer demands become more complex, it’s increasingly important for operators to do everything in their power to understand and anticipate customers’ needs and deliver on them.

We at Comptel wanted to gauge what customers think about their relationships with their mobile operators, and shed light on how mobile operators can better engage with them to increase loyalty and capitalise on potential upsell opportunities. (A big thank you goes to research firm Vanson Bourne who we commissioned last month to survey 2,000 consumers from across the United Kingdom, France, Germany and the United States.)

The survey findings clearly indicate that customers need more love from their mobile operators. Two-thirds of respondents said that they feel neglected by their mobile operators, and more than two in five are likely to churn within the next two years as a result.

Would you appreciate your mobile operator being more interactive with you based on how you use its services?

More interaction would certainly go a long way in ensuring customer satisfaction. For instance, more than one in five respondents reported experiencing poor quality of service (QoS) at least once a week. Yet, the majority of customers (72 percent) are largely willing to forgive and forget if their mobile operator apologised and sent a special offer. Younger customers aged 18-25, in particular, are most likely to become more loyal if shown more love.

If your mobile operator noticed this poor service when it happened and sent you an offer (e.g. free coffee at Starbucks) and apologised, would you be more loyal to them?

The survey also revealed that there are significant revenue opportunities to be had if mobile operators were more attentive to their customer bases. Nearly three in five respondents said that if their mobile operator offered faster download rates, they would pay for it. In fact, nearly one in five respondents said that they would be willing to pay more than five pounds, euros or dollars extra monthly for such an upgrade.

If your mobile operator offered you faster download rates, how much would you pay for this a month?

Like I said in today’s press release, with so many customers expected to churn if their needs are not better met, mobile operators need to adapt to their demands for more personalised and dynamic services to survive. Comptel believes real-time data collection and analysis and increased customer interaction are critical to fostering loyalty and maximising revenue opportunities.

A full copy of this research report will be available at our booth at Mobile World Congress (27 February – 1 March in Barcelona) in Hall 1 at Stand 1C06, or email comptel.marketing@comptel.com. We hope to see you at the show and look forward to discussing the issue of customer engagement further in the coming months.


Q4 2011: An Update on Comptel’s Business and Strategy

Posted: February 10th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: News | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

Today, we announced Comptel’s financials for the fourth quarter of 2011 and for the year as a whole.

The past year was my first at Comptel, and it was one in which I led the company through necessary transformation. We renewed the organisation and executive board, established new teams and offices, launched new values and formulated a new strategy. We also hired a significant amount of new people to get closer to our customers and prospects. In addition, we increased our investments in R&D to bring new products to the market.

Obviously, this having been a period of transition, our net sales have remained flat (€76.8 million), and our profit has been affected by the investments for growth that we have made (operating profit excluding one-off items was €2.8 million).

However, I am pleased to see that the work we have all put into improving Comptel is beginning to bear fruit. For example, both employee and customer surveys are showing increased satisfaction. We have also managed to win 15 new customers this year, five of which are located in new countries for us and 10 of which came in Q4. Our order backlog has improved significantly, with 23 orders with a value over 500,000 euros booked during the year. This, I believe, creates good conditions for growth in 2012.


Around the World

Posted: February 10th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Around the World

Total Telecom…
Service Providers Must Think Creatively to Get Most Out of M2M
The automotive industry is one of the key drivers of M2M communications. This article explains that operators need to include additional services on top of M2M offerings in order for customers to get the most out of the technology.

Telefónica and Masternaut, for example, are using M2M communications to monitor driver behavior, such as braking and acceleration habits, for enterprises with large fleets of vehicles. On top of their service, they are offering an element that allows companies to rank their drivers and award a prize for the highest ranked depot within an organisation. By using the natural human instinct for competition, Telefónica and Masternaut are able to encourage safe driving.

Telefónica is not the only mobile operator looking closely at this space—many are interested in building an enablement framework that will allow them to reap the benefits of M2M technology.  Do you see M2M being a major telecom trend in 2012?


ChannelNewsAsia…
Telcos May Spend More to Boost Network Capacity
This week, the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore introduced measures to boost the quality of 3G mobile services for subscribers. As of April 1, operators must ensure more than 99 percent coverage in outdoor areas and more than 85 percent coverage within buildings, with a less than one percent rate of dropped calls.

Due to these measures, Singapore telecom operators are focusing on improving their control of surging mobile data volumes, and are predicted to invest between $1.3 billion and $1.4 billion this year to boost their network capacity. This increase in capacity will be essential as the demand for faster data networks and LTE grows. The key for operators will be to guarantee a high quality of service in the wake of new regulations while also driving profits and preparing for the next phase of mobile broadband.

NPR…
How to Avoid ‘Bill Shock’ From Smartphone Use
For many Americans, using a cell phone while traveling abroad can result in ‘bill shock’ when they receive a stunningly large phone bill resulting from unanticipated roaming charges. To address this problem, the FCC will implement standards next spring requiring wireless carriers to provide timely and effective notice to consumers about expected roaming charges.

The new FCC regulations will present opportunities for CSPs to differentiate themselves on the customer experience front, by taking a closer look at improving billing services and personalised alert services. What do you think these new regulations will mean for the industry?