New Comptel Research: Customers Want Personalisation, but Telcos Don’t Deliver

Posted: February 2nd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Industry Insights | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

By Niilo Fredriksen, Executive Vice President, Intelligent Data

A word of caution for all mobile operators: there’s a 50/50 chance your customers feel like you don’t actually care about them.

That’s what Comptel found when we commissioned a survey of 2,000 mobile data users in the US and the UK. Our new research report, The Power of Personal, reports that 52 percent of mobile customers feel like they are treated as just another nameless subscriber by their providers.

Obviously, that’s a problem that could lead to churn. Customers that feel valued are three times more likely to stay loyal to their provider, according to our research. Those that don’t feel valued leave, and 59 percent of respondents said they were not fully satisfied with their providers.

So how do you make sure your customers are happy, loyal advocates for your business? Personalisation offers a solution, and the survey found that it’s what mobile customers want from their providers.

In total, 55 percent of respondents said they would be open to receiving more proactive, personalised messages and services from their providers. But, only 13 percent has ever received this type of message.

Respondents said they were favourable to receiving all sorts of different messages, including:

  • An alert when they’ve reached their data cap
  • A notification when they’re about to trigger data roaming charges
  • A message when they’re using more data than usual

But it’s not just about warnings and alerts. According to our research, customers are also open to personalised messages about service offers, whether it’s a discounted data plan, sponsored data plan or a completely tailored plan that fits their exact needs based on service consumption. The key word, though, is personal. If you send customers an offer that doesn’t seem relevant to them, you’re not going to achieve anything but annoying them.

Service providers know a lot about their customers. It’s high time they started to use that data more intelligently to provide better more individualised services and to use that information to save customers money and build much longer lasting loyalty than is the current model. Our report gives you the guidance you need to do that.

You can learn more about our research by visiting comptelcorporation.com/power-of-personal. From there, you can:

  • Download the full research report
  • Watch video interviews to hear what consumers on the street think about their current service providers and what should be done differently
  • View an infographic that summarises the top findings
  • Read our new eBook, which has tips on how to put those findings into action
  • Explore three use cases of how service providers could better cater to customers through a more personalised approach

Power of Personal research


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!


Comptel’s Second Day at Management World Africa 2011

Posted: September 22nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Events, Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Phew! The second day of TM Forum’s Management World Africa 2011 is over. Now, I’m back on an airplane but this time to Cape Town (where Comptel has an office). Before landing, I again reflected a bit on the speech I gave on “taking personalisation to the next level—exploring how communications service providers (CSPs) can optimise customer retention and profitability through SIM management.”

In the afternoon’s presentation, I explored how CSPs across most parts of the world run their prepaid businesses, giving relatively little choice to users, mostly pre-provisioning the data and logistically managing many types or packages of SIM cards. Basically, SIM packages define the product one buys with or without a number attached.

I then expressed what the basic choices of personalisation are (price or product) and raised the question of segmentation. Aren’t we already in the stage of various types of micro-segments where two people in even the same village in rural Africa, let alone in urban cities, likely won’t have the exact same desires and expectations of CSPs’ services? If we start looking at the number of devices we use and the usage patterns we have, we would find that there is hardly any commonality, except that we all call and use data services—but that is not granular enough to address our need for personalisation. We have a vast amount of segments to address today, and the old mechanisms for defining products with varying prices and other parameters need to be rethought; otherwise, they will lead to non-personalised experiences and low customer loyalty.

I went on to explore if the mechanisms of trying to guess what is hot or not is valid—ultimately suggesting that CSPs do not even try. Let users select the services and value-adds they are interested in, and enable them to choose these elements themselves. My conclusion: loyalty is driven not only through quality but also through personalisation. If we allow users to self-personalise the services they take from their CSPs, how can competitors offer anything better?

Like I wrote yesterday, catalog is left, right and center of this kind of approach, but the way we fulfill service orders needs to be well coupled with the catalog data. If you want to know more, we’re happy to discuss it with you—it’s a bit of longer story than a blog post really.

Overall, it was a tight 15-minute session with a Q&A with the audience, and there was much more positive discussion afterwards 1-on-1 with the CSP community present.


On The Way to Management World Africa 2011

Posted: September 21st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Events, Industry Insights | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on On The Way to Management World Africa 2011

I’m writing this while travelling to TM Forum’s Management World Africa 2011 in Johannesburg, South Africa, where I’ll be giving a speech on “taking personalisation to the next level—exploring how communications service providers (CSPs) can optimise customer retention and profitability through SIM management.” (Despite most of my blog posts having been about IMS or LTE, this one won’t.)

So while flying on the Airbus A380, which, by the way, is the most advanced aircraft I’ve ever travelled in, I started to think about how telcos, in general, fail at personalisation and why they should really take a serious look at other sectors like the airline industry. A major difference can be seen when comparing the way CSPs and airlines price their offerings. Telcos, for the most part, have fixed pricing with tiered costs based on peak and off-peak hours, but they don’t really personalise it at all. Whereas airline fees vary depending on the time of your flight, the number of passengers on that flight, etc.

Then, taking it a step further, upon booking, airlines personalise all communication based on your mileage program level. You can also choose your seat depending on availability and class of service, and sometimes have the option of special meals or drinks. Even after landing, I will be picked up by a personal driver, who has my name on a large sign to help me find him in the crowd.

Looking at it, aircrafts like the A380 are complicated ‘monsters’, technological masterpieces on their own. However, the airlines do not really sell the technology—but rather the experience. And although the personalisation is limited somewhat, it is still much more than just an SMS informing you that the European Union regulatory data caps and prices are valid when you’re roaming, for example.

I will be presenting around this topic and how CSPs can make personalisation real for customers. The key elements needed to see it through? Comptel believes it’s a full-fledged fulfillment suite. Comptel Dynamic SIM Management uses a configurable dialogue engine to drive user interaction, backed with Comptel Catalog to ensure that the products defined can actually be delivered with a service and resource inventory for numbers and SIM-related data and, of course, real-time Comptel Provisioning and Activation.

I know this will be published after I land, but thought of writing this to begin to explore the issue of personalisation. I will continue with this direction during Management World Africa and in some blog posts to follow.


Amsterdam Feels the Heat of Policy Control

Posted: April 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments »

I have just returned from Informa’s Policy Control event, which was held in Amsterdam earlier this week, and where Comptel was present as an exhibitor and as a participant in a panel discussion. It was a very good event: some excellent speeches, some excellent networking.

There is no doubt that policy control is HOT at the moment. Infonetics analyst Shira Levine, who was chairing the first day of the event, stated that she expected the market to quadruple in size by 2015, and reach $1.6 billion! The event’s presentations broadly offered three reasons for this: the growth in data traffic, regulation, and the drive to differentiate and personalise services.

The growth in data traffic, and the fact that it is outstripping revenue growth, are both well documented. Many presenters offered the “Xs”. For example, T-Mobile Netherlands said that between December 2008 and December 2010, smartphone traffic grew by 6X, volume by 5X and (maybe most interesting of all) signalling by 7X. On that last point, a number of speakers identified the growth in signalling traffic as the most pressing problem concerning congestion—even though LTE is more efficient than HSPA, this is a problem that shows no sign of going away. Overall, this traffic growth is driving operators to try and “control” bandwidth usage (more about that later).

The second driver mentioned at the conference was legislation. For example, Telefonica Germany (formerly O2) explained how it had to implement roaming cost control to comply with European Union legislation. In fact, the speaker seemed to imply that the operator’s policy control solution still wasn’t live, and that to comply with the legislation, it had to find a work around: Telefonica basically does not charge for roaming data usage over €50 limit, and just reduces the quality of service for the user. This is not done in real time, as the usage calculation is done during the billing run. Clearly, though not explicitly mentioned by Telefonica, this is a source of revenue leakage (in the form of uncharged usage). Nonetheless, the communications service provider (CSP) explained that while revenue per MB went down as a result of this legislation, overall revenue for data went up, because users no longer suffered bill shock.

The final driver for the adoption of policy control is differentiation and personalisation. There was a lot of discussion in particular around the move from punitive and “blind” bandwidth control towards intelligent bandwidth management as part of tiered offerings. The BT speaker put it succinctly: “policy control is”, she said, “the last gasp of a centralised control approach.” She argued that operators should be providing what customers want, and that means Skype, Netflix, etc. The walled garden approach is dying, and over-the-top services are here to stay.

Other speakers talked about offering application-aware bandwidth (e.g. for video or gaming) and tying that closely to price plans with policy control and charging. Zain Kuwait, for example, explained how it offers two plans, eeZee for average users and e-Go for heavy users.

U.K. ISP PlusNet did sound a note of caution though: customers don’t always understand tiers. The operator shared the result of a survey it commissioned—what consumers want, in order of importance, are reliability, price, speed and multiple use. Value-added services and usage were not factors consumers cared about. For that reason, NetPlus offers just two simple price plans, with the tiered offering being an add-on rather than a plan on its own.

So what about lessons learnt in terms of implementations? Many operators talked about focusing on specific use-cases rather than tackling a generic policy control deployment. Polish operator Play also said that, when looking for a solution, “flexibility and performance” were key. The CSP also mentioned that operators need to build redundancy; as it unfortunately found out, if PCRF fails, the network goes down! The BT speaker once again put it very straight: operators should be looking for “a vendor who plays well with others” and “delivers on its promises”. A number of operators, such as the U.K.’s TalkTalk, also emphasized the importance of being open and honest with customers about what operators were doing, especially as far a “fair usage” was concerned.

Finally, I was particularly pleased to hear Comptel’s very own mobile broadband survey mentioned by three speakers, including one Comptel competitor!