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Mar 19 2015

Cable MSOs transform the customer experience

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Success for cable operators will depend on how well they can transform the customer experience (CX) as they strive to deliver new services to residential and commercial markets.

Cable operators can improve customer satisfaction by addressing back-office, device management, and service assurance requirements that contribute to a far better experience for customers. The boost in customer satisfaction will help stem losses in pay TV subscribers to create a more positive outlook on Wall Street and in boardrooms.

Fundamental to CX transformation, is cable operators’ ability to implement a customer experience management (CEM) platform that delivers the intelligence, scope, and efficiency to manage and optimize today’s CX.

Keeping up with CX requirements

As operators execute on new opportunities, including TV Everywhere (TVE), MSO Wi-Fi®, smart home (the Internet of Things), and managed commercial services, they must evolve from old, siloed service management and customer care approaches to keep up with CX requirements.

Combined with the growing use of cloud-based resources, operators’ responsibilities for maintaining customer satisfaction have expanded to a broader range of devices, network elements and service categories than ever before.

Today’s market conditions dictate a comprehensive, holistic approach to ensuring superior customer experience and accelerating service velocity across multiple departments.

It’s not enough for operators to compile, analyze and format data across all service categories to provide customer service representatives and support personnel instant access to all information relevant to any issue. To drive go-to-market efficiencies and improve performance throughout the organization, they must be able to extend the benefits of:

  • Advanced user awareness
  • Device management
  • Actionable analytics
  • Dynamic automated operations

Customer satisfaction: Room for improvement

According to recent research by the Temkin Group, the American Customer Satisfaction Index, and JD Power, there is much room for customer satisfaction improvement among Internet and pay TV providers.

For example, Temkin Group’s Q3 2014 survey of 10,000 US consumers’ opinions about goods and services supplied by 283 companies across 20 industries registered the lowest ranking average Net Promoter Score (NPS) for pay TV providers[1].

The average score for Internet service providers was just one rung higher in the 19th position. (An NPS reflects a respondent’s willingness to recommend a provider of goods and services to other people based on a scale of 1 to 10.)

Emerging services and opportunity

Customer satisfaction surveys underscore the immediacy of the cable CEM opportunity. However the full scope of what needs to be done is best understood in the context of the changes in emerging service offerings, including:

  • TV Everywhere
  • Ubiquitous Wi-Fi access
  • The Internet of Things (smart home)
  • Managed commercial services

TV Everywhere (TVE) The anticipated CX impact from new initiatives is most evident in implementations of TVE services. In TVE, consumer engagement and a seamless, high-quality experience are significant issues. Much of the reason for the lack of engagement comes back to CX. Research highlights everything from time-consuming sign-in processes and poor performance to viewing delays as reasons for lack of user engagement.

Ubiquitous MSO Wi-Fi access To capitalize on the Wi-Fi potential, operators must enhance CEM to address new complexities in service assurance and customer service. This includes making sure everything from bandwidth and device management to providing confirmation that authentication systems, personalized apps, ad placements, and e-commerce commitments to commercial partners are working as expected.

The Internet of Things (IoT) Looking beyond the expanding TV service domain, the CEM challenge becomes even greater with the onset of next-generation smart home services. In this space, the connectivity of appliances and devices of every description will dictate a highly versatile approach to meeting consumer expectations.

Recent research underscores the IoT service opportunity for cable and other network service providers. ABI Research, for example, predicts that nearly 30 percent of North American households will have a managed smart home automation system installed by 2019[2].

Commercial services Cable operators are transitioning from delivering commercial-grade high-speed data and voice services at the low end of the SMB spectrum to offering more sophisticated managed services to larger companies.

To be successful in this market, operators must be able to dynamically deliver the set of services and functionalities with new levels of automation that each customer requires in terms of:

  • Provisioning
  • Service activation
  • Performance assurance
  • Care management

The challenge will also be delivering these functionalities in conjunction with diverse needs across multiple customer locations.

Moving to the cloud

Virtualization of multiple processes running on data center hardware will enable accelerated service velocity. This will allow operators to move ever more functionalities in consumer and commercial services to the cloud.

As they do, they must be able to seamlessly incorporate the monitoring and analysis of those cloud-based processes into their frameworks.

4 fundamentals of a comprehensive CX program

As technology innovations drive shifts in consumer behavior and open new service opportunities, operators must start eliminating pain points. This includes any obstacles that will impede their ability to launch and provide adequate care and quality assurance for those services. In a market crowded with competitors, the difference between success and failure may come down to who can provide the best and most differentiated customer experience.

1. Connected home and device management If cable operators want to realize the goals of a next-generation CX program, they need an entirely new way of bringing full-fledged device management into the new service domain. This means operators must have comprehensive control of and visibility into every device and every service delivered to those devices from their networks.

Recent advances in device management, embodied in the Broadband Forum’s TR-069 standard and its extensions, have been embedded into the cable customer premises equipment (CPE), including residential and commercial gateways.

In addition, by leveraging the proxy management capabilities of TR-069-enabled CPE, monitoring and management functionalities are available for any devices that are connected to these gateways over standardized protocols on wireless and fixed line networks.

2. Better customer service performance Customer care and service assurance are frequently inadequate to subscribers’ needs. At the most basic level, long delays in answering calls in help centers often lead to abandoned call rates several times greater than the industry best-practices average.

Once calls are answered, the time it takes for customer service representatives (CSRs) to get answers to questions — if CSRs able to find answers at all — increases customer dissatisfaction as well as cost-per-call averages.

A CEM program designed to address these issues requires implementation of mechanisms and procedures that allow operators to more quickly resolve subscriber issues through all care touch points, including:

  • Help desks
  • Interactive voice response (IVR) systems
  • Self-help portals

To provide CSRs all the information they need to reduce resolution time, the new CEM platform must have powerful analytics capabilities in conjunction with data-gathering that reaches across all devices and systems.

The platform must also address delays in service activation, compounded by the introduction of ever more services. When taking new service orders, CSRs must have a single-interface access to all of the provisioning and billing triggers associated with all services and special offers. They must also be able to confirm the service is activated as required once the order is taken.

3. Accelerating marketing strategies As operators overcome these limitations from the help-desk perspective, they must also be able to extend the benefits of rapid service activation and performance awareness to other departments.

Marketing personnel, for example, must quickly activate new tiers, usage-based pricing and packaging models, free trial and reduced-price incentives, and value-added applications. And they must be able to tap the data resources to track the performance not only of new services but also new pricing models and incentive offers.

4. Network consolidation and multi-access modes Consolidation of operations at regional and national levels has created a pressing need for an integrated multi-service management capability. This allows engineering departments to immediately gauge how new technology strategies are impacting service performance in all locations on all devices.

Analytics systems must be able to track and identify issues based on a comprehensive set of information relevant to whatever access link a particular user is on. Without requiring CSRs and technicians to go to different dashboards dedicated to each type of access link.

As with all other aspects of the CX system, the platform must be able to aggregate and present all relevant information from a user-centric, as opposed to technology-centric, point of view.

Ready to transform the customer experience

A CEM platform that fulfills these fundamentals will sustain customer satisfaction and optimize the customer experience well into the future.

Alcatel-Lucent’s Motive Customer Experience Management Platform (Motive CEM) provides cable operators all essential CEM program support. Motive CEM fully engages all stakeholders in the planning, development, delivery, assurance, and customer care and support for all services across all devices and network access points.

Related Material

Customer experience transformation for cable operators white paper (short or full version available)Alcatel-Lucent Cable MSO info centerMotive Customer Experience Management Platform webpage

Footnote

  1. [1] Temkin Group, Net Promoter Score Benchmark Study, October 2014
  2. [2] TABI Research, Smart Home, STB & Home Networks Market, June 2014

To contact the author or request additional information, please send an email to networks.nokia_news@nokia.com.

About Nicholas Cadwgan
With over 20 years of experience in the telecommunications industry, Nicholas (Nick) Cadwgan has held senior architectural, product marketing & management, and business strategy roles focusing on Broadband Access, Carrier Ethernet, Carrier/IP Routing, Optical Transport and Mobile Networks with Motorola, Nortel Networks, Newbridge Networks and other privately funded companies. Nick brings a proven combination of marketing, technology and business management expertise to his current role at Nokia.