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Feb 27 2012

Managing the Mobile Customer Experience

In the competitive mobile broadband market, a superior customer experience can be the difference between long-term success and being relegated to commodity status. With a holistic approach to customer experience management mobile operators can differentiate from the competition, avoid churn and increase customer lifetime value (CLV).

Industry evolution impacts mobile operators

Today’s connected consumers want on-the-go, anywhere access to advanced applications and rich multimedia services. Growth in mobile broadband is fueled by the rapid adoption of mobile devices with data connectivity. According to mobile strategy firm, VisionMobile, smartphones account for 27% of all phones globally; however, they represent over 50% of all phones in developed markets.[1] Some analysts are predicting that smartphones will soon comprise 75% of the global mobile market. Smartphones are just the start. Other broadband devices including wireless routers, tablets, e-readers, netbooks and USB modems are gaining popularity. Consumers are eagerly embracing access technologies that can keep them connected — including turning their smartphones into mobile hotspots and femtocells in the home. New entrants are continuously flooding the market with innovative broadband-based services to capture these growth and revenue opportunities. Mobile operators are caught in the middle between these over-the-top (OTT) providers and customers. Growing industry complexity is adding new operating systems, applications and configuration requirements to the mix. It makes complex technologies available to inexperienced customers. It increases the challenge and cost involved in on-boarding and supporting customers to deliver an outstanding quality of experience (QoE). Simply put, it’s getting tougher and more expensive to win and retain mobile customers.

Focus on QoE

Mobile operators recognize the value of customer experience. Many actively promote and enhance it. They channel effort and investment toward a variety of QoE-improvement goals, including:

  • Resolving customer issues on the first call
  • Providing self-care and self-diagnostic capabilities
  • Clarifying the services they offer and how they bill customers
  • Delivering a consistent experience across every customer interaction

Achieving any of these goals can help an operator improve a mobile broadband offer. And every improvement helps in the quest to transform consumers into loyal customers. The real challenge for operators is to turn customer experience into a competitive edge that delivers reliable and lasting value.

A holistic approach

Operators need more than targeted QoE enhancements to strengthen their customer relationships and position in the mobile value chain. A holistic approach to customer experience management can help by extending the same QoE across every touch point throughout the customer experience. A focus on customer experience can enable operators to form tighter bonds with mobile customers while proving that they offer much more than commodity or bit-pipe capabilities. With a holistic approach to customer experience management, mobile operators can:

  • Increase profitability by simplifying customer interactions: Operators can differentiate by using network, customer and device intelligence to create the simple and compelling experiences customers demand.
  • Improve business performance using customer insights: Operators can thrive in a complex and competitive environment using data-driven insights that strengthen customer relationships and increase CLV.
  • Enhance yield and loyalty by optimizing the network experience: Operators can win customers by using existing network assets and data to deliver a superior experience that opens the door to new possibilities.

What’s involved?

In developing a holistic customer experience management strategy, operators have to consider their own unique goals, operating environments and market conditions. They also have to recognize that every single interaction counts toward customer perceptions of QoE. There’s no magic formula for extending a customer experience focus across an organization. An iterative, step-by-step approach offers the surest path to success. No matter which path they choose, mobile operators can succeed by focusing on 4 key areas.

Customer experience management

Customers want mobile broadband services that are simpler to activate and manage. And they want easier access to effective technical support. Operators can deliver with customer experience management solutions that automate device/service configuration, as well as provide troubleshooting and problem resolution processes. By simplifying interactions throughout the customer journey, mobile operators can boost QoE and build stronger, longer-lasting and more profitable customer relationships.

Customer experience analytics

Mobile operators control large volumes of data on customers, devices, services and networks. But many lack the ability to extract this data and use it effectively. Operators can benefit from predictive analytics and modeling solutions that identify customer behavior and provide insights about how to improve QoE. These insights can help operators differentiate, decrease churn and increase CLV.

Customer experience optimization

Many operators use a reactive and negative approach — think usage caps and bandwidth throttling — to manage network yield and customer loyalty. With a more positive and proactive approach, they can influence usage behavior in a more advantageous way. Operators can benefit from customer experience optimization solutions that examine customer trends, experiences and usage patterns on a highly personal level. Ideally, examination will yield options that promote QoE while improving network performance. Operators can use these options to build successful dynamic pricing, content delivery and loyalty management strategies.

Customer experience consulting

Operators need actionable plans and priorities to embrace holistic customer experience management strategies. This may require input from consultants capable of connecting touch points with service provider capabilities throughout the customer journey. The most successful consulting strategies empower mobile operators with wide-reaching capabilities, including:

  • End-to-end coverage of touch points across the customer experience, from initial awareness to final contact
  • Essential service provider capabilities that can be customized for each engagement
  • Industry- and experience-based insights that offer meaningful comparisons to standards and benchmarks
  • Action plans that incorporate priorities, timelines and econometrics

Influencing churn, loyalty and CLV

For mobile operators, satisfying customers and avoiding churn are central to business success. According to industry experts, customer retention is important in order to recapture some of the revenue and margin that is lost due to customer acquisition programs and price promotions. Losing customers means losing device subsidy and support investments. Worse, it reduces CLV by removing the ability to generate upsell and cross-sell revenue. Competitive pricing, device subsidies and service capabilities make it hard for consumers to choose between mobile offers. Once customers sign-up with a provider, they often struggle to use their new devices and services. For operators, this is a critical make or break time. There is a high risk of customer dissatisfaction and defection. But there’s also an opportunity. By making the customer experience simple and satisfying, operators can differentiate and build loyalty. Delivering a standout customer experience can help ensure the successful adoption of a mobile service offering and provide a defense against OTT providers that can relegate an operator to commodity status. The mobile broadband services market is fast evolving, fragmented and fiercely competitive. A superior anywhere customer experience can be the differentiator that attracts consumer attention, eliminates talk of commodity roles, and lifts an operator above new and traditional competitors. To contact the author or request additional information, please send an email to networks.nokia_news@nokia.com.

Footnotes

  1. [1]© 2011 Mobile Platforms: The Clash of Ecosystems, VisionMobile, Nov 2011.
About Bhavani Rao
Bhavani Rao brings more than a decade of telecom industry experience to his role as Senior Product Marketing Manager. At Alcatel-Lucent, Bhavani is responsible for supporting the Motive software products and solutions for the mobile industry. Prior to this, Bhavani spent five years marketing fiber-to-the-home and DSL modem products for the Americas. In previous roles, Bhavani has worked as a product manager on Outside Plant Equipment and in a business role on Transport equipment. Bhavani holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Indiana University and a Master of Business Administration from Columbia University.
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