Around the World: Connectivity in Africa, Big Data Analytics and Adaptation

Posted: November 12th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Around the World: Connectivity in Africa, Big Data Analytics and Adaptation

This week, there were a number of new insights across the telco industry. At Comptel, we’ve been keeping track of the ones that have really caught our eye. Here are three interesting articles that have come out recently:

Developing Telecoms

LTE Investment Key to African Connectivity

A panel of experts was asked by West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC) how they would invest $100 million to improve Internet access in Africa, where connectivity is currently at the lowest rate in the world. Developing Telecoms’ editor James Barton believes that installing new 4G/LTE networks would create the best return on investment. He added that once people in Africa start accessing next-generation mobile networks, new competitive markets can open and, in turn, make Internet access more affordable.

Earlier this year, we wrote about the upcoming boom in mobile devices in Africa. By 2016, it is forecast that there will be more than one billion phones across the continent. The $100 million investment proposed by WIOCC may be hypothetical right now, but the need for 4G/LTE in the continent is a reality.

Information Management …

Big Data and Analytics Help Business Transform and Gain Competitive Advantage

Communications service providers (CSPs) are turning to Big Data analytics tools to cope with the constant changes in technology and consumer behavior. Through the use of these solutions, they can better adapt to new customer trends and prevent churn. CSPs, in particular, deal with a heavy amount of data, because of the high volume of calls, texts and data usage traveling across their networks each day. All of that information can be harnessed to create more targeted marketing offers, support better business planning and drive innovative infrastructure deployments.

Ulla Koivukoski argues that Big Data could potentially bridge silos across an organisation, too. By working with CTOs and CIOs, CMOs can create personalised campaigns by drawing contextual intelligence out of the network, customer and other data available to them. Consequently, silos can be overcome, and CSP executives can work toward the common goal of enhancing the customer experience.

Billing & OSS World

CSPs, Other Businesses Aren’t Adapting to Customers

A recent study by Ovum found that 90 percent of CSPs and other businesses are at risk of being irrelevant to their customers in the near future. Because of organisational silos and slow decision cycles, dynamic customer responsiveness is lacking. The findings show the need to create a fluid customer process that ensures each individual receives personalised attention in a timely manner. Building relationships with customers and earning their trust can help organisations remain relevant, and increase overall customer satisfaction and loyalty.


Management World Americas: What can CSPs do as customer touch points increase?

Posted: December 6th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Management World Americas: What can CSPs do as customer touch points increase?

Management World Americas 2012 is coming to a close, and as I looked at the beautiful sunrise this morning (which you can see in this picture), I was reflecting on our time here and all of the stimulating conversations and topics that are so relevant to our industry.

In particular, we recently discussed putting the customer first – a key theme in the customer experience management (CEM) sessions — and I’d like to expand on that a bit. In thinking about CEM, another trend we’ve seen come up here is that customer touch points are rapidly increasing, with ever more players having a role in the customer experience. As new devices emerge, over the top (OTT) services are introduced, and data usage continues to surge, this should come as no surprise. In fact, I found it interesting that even when it comes to contacting communications service providers (CSPs) directly, customers generally use multiple methods such as web, phone, email and SMS.

What all these various touch points and subsequent players mean for CSPs, though, is that it’s challenging to control the customer experience end-to-end. To help mitigate this, it’s essential to take advantage of the data at hand by collecting and analysing customer information. Doing so will provide a clear picture of who the customer is and allow for more personilised interactions at each touch point. As Ulla mentioned, this was something that was very prominent during the Equinix case study session where the company collected data and mapped the entire customer lifecycle for a complete view of customer activities and preferences.

In order to really make this strategy successful, a holistic approach to customer experience is needed, with both the marketing, IT and telecom teams aligned in their goals. Automated processes is an asset in bringing these worlds together – simultaneously looking at what’s happening in the network and coinciding customer activities. Where these two elements meet is where automated processes play a key role – enabling CSPs to see exactly what the customer is doing, understand the context, and automate an appropriate, personalised response. Strengthening this with machine learning means that CSPs can track customers’ behavioural patterns dynamically and automatically adapt to those as they change throughout a customer’s lifecycle.

Of course, I’d like to emphasise that this should be used in combination with personal, human interactions. Treating customers this way, with a human touch and by providing unique communications based on their preferences, is key  to differentiating in an ever crowded market. And with automation helping this, CSPs can make many more targeted offers at the right time – a crucial factor to enabling a positive customer experience as touch points continue to expand.


The Benefits of Social Network Analytics for Marketing

Posted: August 14th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Benefits of Social Network Analytics for Marketing

Social network analytics (SNA) is becoming increasingly popular as communications service providers (CSPs) look to better understand their customers and secure a competitive edge in the market. As part of an advanced analytics approach, SNA enables CSPs to dive into the billions of daily transactions on their networks and utilise the calling patterns to identify influencers and better segment their subscribers – and ultimately realise more value.

For instance, call detail records provide CSPs with a unique insight into social interactions through the daily communication of their subscribers. This network may be even more important for CPSs than most online social networks, for example, which are just snapshots of a person’s interactions, many of which may not be very relevant, especially with regards to the activities of CSPs.

However, SNA alone is not the ultimate end-all solution and is, instead, one very valuable aspect of the larger scope of analytics. And when combined with predictive analytics, SNA truly offers a distinct advantage for CSPs. For instance, they can use SNA to power their predictive capabilities and generate insight regarding data that is otherwise unavailable on the single subscriber level. On top of this, SNA and predictive analytics can help CSPs benefit from the interactions between subscribers, help with overall customer experience management and automate operational actions to increase productivity. And let’s not forget, perhaps the best known application of SNA, viral marketing – an approach that remains one of the strongest, most effective marketing techniques. But again, it’s crucial to take into account that understanding the social network alone is not enough. Rather, when combined with the right product, predictive analytics powered by SNA can really make a difference.

Take, for instance, a teenager who texts frequently. If he or she receives an appealing SMS rate reduction that’s just right for them – perhaps one that predictive models have indicated would be suitable – this subscriber will be more likely to spread the word to those in his or her network, causing a positive ripple effect. As a result, many of these connections may pursue that same SMS rate, providing an increase in revenue for the CSP.

Ultimately, recommendations from family and friends can be far more effective than traditional advertising. In this way, combining predictive analytics and SNA can play a key role in any CSP’s arsenal. And of course, a well-executed SNA strategy balances providing personalised offers without infringing on subscriber privacy.

If you’d like to read more about combining predictive analytics and SNA— and taking this even one step further to understand and act upon the context of each interaction — download our recent whitepaper with Heavy Reading on Contextual Intelligence. What are your thoughts on SNA? Is it of value? Are there actual network influencers whose recommendation you follow regardless of the topic? Or would you say you’re more swayed by having CSPs make the right offer, and it holds more weight when the offer is recommended by those whose opinion you trust in the context of what is being offered?


The Results Are In: Analytics Play a Key Role in Customer Retention

Posted: July 3rd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Results Are In: Analytics Play a Key Role in Customer Retention

This year’s annual Comptel User Group will be one to beat – with visits to the Carlsberg Brewery and the famous amusement park, Tivoli, where many attendees rode the world’s oldest wooden rollercoaster. In addition to the fun had around Denmark, there were also many memorable conversations at the conference, most of which revolved around the customer experience.

Like at past user groups, Comptel held an interactive voting session where we polled our audience of customers and partners to gain deeper insights on the topic of analytics. The survey focused on customer retention strategies, including when and how to engage with subscribers, and what techniques telecom professionals are employing to keep them happy.

Sixty-seven percent of respondents said they believe inconsistent service quality and poor customer service are among the biggest contributors to churn. To help manage this, 64% of participants said anticipating subscribers needs with proactive care is one of the best strategies for handling service issues, like dropped calls, low bandwidth or sluggish file loading.

Some audience members mentioned that, now, the simple reality is many operators wait for customers to complain before addressing an issue. But as Stratecast analyst Jeff Cotrupe commented, it’s always better to be proactive – communications service providers (CSPs) must take on that active role to provide better service overall. And ultimately to reduce churn, it takes predictive and contextual analytics and personalized customer interaction capabilities.

For instance, following a service issue, 46% of respondents said that they would issue an apology, opportunity to upgrade or special discount to subscribers to boost loyalty. But when it comes to keeping customers satisfied, especially after a service issue, Telesperience analyst Teresa Cottam noted that CSPs’ response should depend on what is appropriate for each individual customer and situation. While an apology might be right for some, it might irk others. This is why the actions that CSPs take following an event should be rooted in analysis of subscriber data. Just as you want to personalise services, personalising a response to an outage or fail is equally as important.

Supporting this and signaling how pervasive analytics are becoming in the industry, three out offour attendees reported using analytics daily, weekly or monthly. This isn’t surprising given that almost half also believe targeted services are critical in mitigating turnover – an area where analytical insights play a crucial role.

Timing and context were deemed among the most important aspects for realising improvements in customer interaction and business performance. Building on this, participants saw a variety of attractive applications for advanced analytics to support business needs.

We at Comptel are thrilled for the industry to embrace analytics and contextual intelligence, and to see the new opportunities that will emerge from this for churn prevention, targeted marketing and other business opportunities. Did any of the results stand out to you? What do you think will have the most powerful effect on reducing churn?

To download the full presentation, click here.


The Difference Between CRM and CEM—and Why CSPs Need Both

Posted: June 5th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights, Telecom Trends | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

I’ve recently been asked for my opinions on the difference between Customer Experience Management (CEM) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) with relation to the telecommunications sector. This is, indeed, an interesting question, especially considering the subtle, yet remarkable, differences in the answer.

Let’s first consider CRM, which has traditionally been defined as a means for communications service providers (CSPs) to manage the contact and various segmentation parameters of their customers. For instance, these systems provide the ability to build targeted campaigns based on demographic or other more or less rigid segmentation criteria. CRM also enables CSPs to react swiftly when customers are demanding new services or to respond, after the fact, to a negative customer experience.

We are now, however, operating in a time where managing the customer base through high level segmentation or post-event action isn’t sufficient enough, on its own, to ensure a differentiating customer experience. This is where CEM steps in. It can enable organisations to proactively—and even preemptively—engage with, and take appropriate targeted actions to avoid any challenges that might surface, such as quality of service issues.

Yet, the perception still exists that CEM is simply the ability to understand, in-depth, the manner in which services are being used by subscribers and having the availability of related transactional data. While this helps broaden the knowledge about CSPs’ customer bases, their needs and preferences, we are now living in a time when CEM can be extended to encompass true personalised and proactive action.

Coupling real-time data from services and networks with a contextual understanding of a customer’s situation leverages both the CRM and CEM concepts to place real intelligence in the palm of CSPs. This level of contextual intelligence will, undoubtedly, bring with it great customer experience and differentiating opportunities.

The recently announced CIQ4T (Contextual Intelligence for Telecommunications) concept addresses this need and opportunity to link together CRM and CEM. It leverages advanced predictive analytics to provide a holistic, contextual understanding of individual subscribers’ usage patterns, behaviours and circumstances to proactively drive personalised interaction and improve overall experience.

After all, the battle for incumbent versus challenger in the telecommunications space is no longer being fought in the infrastructure build-out, but instead on CSPs’ ability to retain customers and build a positive reputation for service. Subscribers have so many options when it comes to selecting a CSP; it’s imperative for operators to proactively influence and eventually anticipate the needs and wants of its customers. So it really isn’t about defining the difference between CRM and CEM, it’s about making them work holistically together. #CIQ4T