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Optimizing Customer Experience through Big Data Analytics

7:09 pm   -   February 2nd, 2013

With the proliferation of smart phones and geometric growth in consumption of data services, it has become imperative for communication service providers, content publishers and application developers to understand consumer activity on mobile devices. As the physical world converges with the virtual world, brands and operators are increasingly keen to understand what subscribers are doing, when and where and how they can provide offerings that can meet their individual needs. While providers want to understand the end?to?end activity of the subscriber across varied applications and the entire breadth of the mobile web, content publishers desire to understand subscriber engagement on their content portfolio and how best to translate them to a sale.

In this new converged environment, every business has been forced to rethink how to effectively monetize the changing consumer expectations. Improving revenue, retaining customers and managing risk are becoming increasingly complex for industry executives.

Seeking to increase profitability, communications service providers are increasingly turning towards initiatives to monitor and optimize customer experience to differentiate themselves and support new, sustainable sources of income. Customer Experience Analytics, a strategy that Protiviti predict will help Communication Service Providers deal effectively with the disruptive digitization, may be loosely defined asa set of applications and methods that turn visibility of each and every customer’s experience over time and across all moments of interaction, into tangible business advantage. The link between customer experience and profitability is becoming more demonstrable all the time as every customer
touch point across the customer lifecycle contributes to customers’ perception, satisfaction, loyalty, and
ultimately profitability.

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In addition to improving customer satisfaction key drivers to customer experience initiatives include reduction of operating costs, differentiation, improving revenue and brand equity.

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An effective Customer Experience Strategy will enable service providers to develop a brand that is:

• Targeted – being appropriate to the market and product set
• Clear – delivering an instantly comprehensible message
• Desirable – something customers want to have or be part of
• Unique – standing out in the crowd
• Meaningful – matching customers’ expectations
• Consistent – across all aspects of the company
• Recognizable – clear, easily identified, repeatable
• Actionable – can be leveraged and supported;
• Extensible – supports new products and partners.

Let us now explore how can a CSP deploy an effective Customer Experience Strategy and what are the key challenges facing them in this pursuit of the Holy Grail.

To understand the proper approach, it is important to understand the environment in which service providers are operating today. Service providers face an environment where:

• Data and signaling traffic are growing rapidly in both fixed and wireless networks
• The use of intelligent devices is spreading rapidly in mobile networks, encouraging use of broadband
• Broadband users as a proportion of all users continues to grow rapidly
• Applications are proliferating, with a wide range of different characteristics
• Networks are evolving rapidly, with widespread introduction of 4G, small cell sites and Wi?Fi sites for offload
• High?end customers are increasingly demanding and prone to churn, if they don’t receive what they want.

To gain a deep understanding of the experience of the user while consuming the service, service providers need to look at a variety of information sources, including application (both on devices and network servers), device, customer/user, network, signaling, traffic flow and application server information. The information must be correlated, filtered and routed to appropriate destinations.

Accuracy, relevance and timeliness of data are fundamental to service providers’ success, but there was also increasing emphasis on web data and social media content. Again, consolidation of data from multiple diverse legacy systems and network platforms also remains an issue, especially for convergent operators, but also for some of the wireless mobile players.

This of course can involve a mountain of data, so the ‘3Vs’ of big data – volume, variety and velocity – definitely apply. A critical function is reducing the data tidal wave, as service providers can easily be overwhelmed by the amount of raw data that can be generated by these sources.

Protiviti predicts that ‘Big Data’ analytics will play a key role in a practical and cost effective realization of a successful customer experience strategy. Technologies such as in?memory processing, column? based databases, analytical appliances, in?database calculations, advanced data compression and de? duplication techniques, self?service analytics, low?cost warehousing appliances and cloud computing will enable service providers deal with the non?linear growth of data volumes, the variety of sources and formats (including unstructured and semi?structured media types) and the expected speed and frequency of collection, processing and taking appropriate actions.

We believe that proper selection, deployment and use of big data analytics tools and techniques in optimizing customer experience has the potential to create big advantages for service providers both in traditional service markets, and also in new market roles as enablers of the digital value chain.

Communications service providers are still in the relatively early stages of truly embracing and deploying customer experience strategies and technologies, so it’s not too late to make a big impact in the market through effective customer experience – but it requires commitment, thought and resources now to avoid becoming a laggard and instead be a leader.The overall effort may seem daunting at the start, but make no mistake; for CSPs who have made the commitment and are at various phases of execution, the payback will be worthwhile.

Amit Ray, Associate Director at Protiviti Member Firm (Middle East Region) heads up the firm’s Revenue Management and Customer Experience Analytics Practice for the Communications Industry in the GCC region. Amit will be speaking on Optimizing Customer Experience through Big Data Analytics at an upcoming Telecom conference in Dubai.