Why Mobile Operators Need to Think About Strategic Experience Design

Posted: April 7th, 2014 | Author: Special Contributor | Filed under: Industry Insights, Telecom Trends | Tags: , | No Comments »

Steve Jobs was famous for his obsession with design. He believed that to make a brilliant product, one needs to control the design of all aspects of the product and not rely on third parties if that means losing control over design.

This obsession led to many Apple products that stand out as being superior in terms of the full customer experience, which in turn helped the company grow and build a loyal customer base.

Most operators’ strategy includes the term Customer Experience in one way or another. Even so, are operators really focused on this throughout all steps of their product development process? Are they thinking strategically about Experience Design?

Comptel recently introduced the term Strategic Experience Design, explaining how this focuses on mapping journeys that customers will take with a product or service.

For example, let’s look at a mature market operator serving customers on tariff plans with data volume caps. Our operator offers a streaming music service accessed through operator-specific apps. The music service is very popular among customers and the operator has put a lot of effort into the app design to provide a good customer experience, aligning layout and functionality with other apps and websites from a set of Experience Design guidelines.

As data traffic increases in the mobile network, more and more customers reach their monthly data volume cap and need to decide whether to top-up or upgrade to a bigger plan.

What the operator might not realise though is that 90 percent of customers who reach their monthly volume cap do so while listening to music on the operator’s music streaming service. And reaching the cap results in a negative customer experience because the music pauses without any message explaining why.

To get this insight, the operator would have to combine data from several systems that are usually not combined – or get feedback from a large number of customers.

Using this insight, the operator could improve the music streaming app to be aware of the data capping and include options for customers to decide how the app should behave when they reach their data cap during music streaming. The additions to the app design could be a real-time data volume counter in the app and settings to allow automatic top-up if the customer’s cap is reached during streaming. In addition, the network could allow music streaming beyond a customer’s cap until the end of the next track or playlist.

Incorporating these levels of awareness and interaction between apps and the network is an example of Strategic Experience Design. The operator leverages all data sources to gain insights and allow apps to interact with them in real time to offer the best possible customer experience. Our operator’s current approach has resulted in a very good app, but the customer experience is hampered by the fact that not every journey has been mapped out.

By thinking about Strategic Experience Design, the operator gains a competitive advantage over third-party music streaming apps, which can’t offer the levels of awareness and interaction between apps and the network. This would act as a retention driver leading to improved loyalty and also as an acquisition driver leading to customer base growth (once the competitive advantage is understood outside the operator’s current customer base).

This is very much like what Steve Jobs did at Apple.

He applied an almost obsessive hands-on approach throughout all steps of a product design to ensure brilliant products – often rejecting ideas of development engineers on subjective design grounds. And although Steve Jobs didn’t have a term for his obsession and occasionally had an unstructured approach, he successfully used Strategic Experience Design as a true differentiator.

This is a guest post from Allan Greve, a co-owner of tefficient.

Tefficient is an international efficiency specialist providing telecom operators and -suppliers withanalysis, benchmarks, consulting and coaching.

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