By Mae Kowalke
The battle for the best mobile device portfolio steals the headlines with its flashy array of smartphone offerings. However, increasingly it appears that the war will be won by the mobile broadband operator who provides the best customer experience as enabled by overall quality of experience (QoE) on their network.
“To thrive in today’s competitive mobile broadband market, service providers must deliver superior QoE and enrich the customer experience,” noted Greg Owens, director of marketing for customer experience at Alcatel-Lucent, in a recent Enriching Communications article, “Customer Insights Improve Business Performance, stated that, “With growing pressure to reduce churn and increase revenues, service providers need to have a better understanding of how customers use their services.”
Churn and cost reduction are key drivers in the mobile broadband provider’s push for improved QoE. It costs U.S. service provider about $400 to acquire a mobile customer, and churn rates average between 30 and 50 percent, according to Owens. That means spending roughly $120-200 million each year to replace 300,000-500,000 customers for a provider with a million customers. With that kind of money on the table, one of the best ways to grow is clearly to find ways to reduce churn, and improving QoE is critical.
But what exactly is QoE? It can be difficult to define. The standard definition is network quality and performance, which do still count. That said, network quality is only part of the equation for mobile broadband providers seeking a more competitive QoE. It is not just about network metrics it is also about how customers actually experience the network.
That’s where increased analytics and services such as Alcatel-Lucent’s Motive Customer Experience Analytics (CXA), part of the company’s larger suite of Motive Customer Experience Solutions for mobile broadband providers, come into play.
The CXA solution helps strengthen the QoE and customer experience by enabling providers to extract real-time QoE data from many different sources, including network elements, customer relationship management tools and operations support systems; correlate, analyze and transform customer experience data into relevant business intelligence; generate actionable reports and dashboards from the data; and realize the full value of churn through making the data available to other system applications.
“Analytics can be used to identify a faulty cell where a large number of high value customers are located,” Owens said. “The engineering or network operations group can then put priority on the resolution of that network fault because it has a large financial impact. They can even take an additional step to message those customers impacted by that issue.”
He added: “Proactive support helps customers enjoy a better QoE while reducing their propensity to churn.”
Owens recommended three strategies mobile broadband operators should employ when seeking better QoE and customer experience.
Adopt a holistic approach: Use big data from across the company to gain a more complete understanding of customers and how they interact with the services and the network.
Break down internal barriers: As a corollary to the first point, a cultural change needs to take place where service providers eliminate the lack an ability or willingness for internal groups to share customer experience data across networks and organizational domains. The silos need to come down.
Develop a clear vision: Success can only be achieved if there is buy-in and direction from the executive level. The good news is that more and more service providers recognize this need and are putting senior executives in charge of customer experience programs.
At the end of the day, in a world where services are becoming more and more of a commodity, it is clear that to those who provide compelling experiences —how customers interact with services as well as service people and business processes and practices —win. It is equally clear that those who do not choose to make improved customer experiences a top priority do so at their own peril.