Next Generation Communications Blog

Customer Care

SurePay Helps U.S. Mobile Operators Overcome Challenges with Flexible Prepaid Charging Options

By: Peter Bernstein, TMCnet Senior Editor

There a few things more confounding to mobile service providers in hotly contested markets than missing out on opportunities to generate more revenues and profits from what have been lightly used services.  This is particularly the case in the United States where unlike much of the world where prepaid services are the norm, it is estimated that roughly 19 percent of U.S. subscribers avail themselves of these services.

That said, and despite some cultural and addressable market challenges, U.S. mobile services providers can change the game in their favor as prepaid is already experiencing significant growth due to a variety of factors, and if done correctly is poised according to research firm Yankee Group is to grow over the next few years faster than the overall telecommunications.

CSPs Can Leverage Self-Help Apps to Unburden Help Desks

By: Paula Bernier, TMC Executive Editor

The Internet and the smartphone have altered customer expectations related to service. They have both elevated the requirement for fast results in terms of response times, and they have made consumers more comfortable with finding answers themselves using the devices in their hands and the information that is now at their fingertips.

Meanwhile, communications providers continue to expand the ever-growing number of services they offer to consumers. That now includes an array of Internet access, mobile, and TV services. The growing number of CSP services and customers also increases the potential for more help desk inquiries.

Four Ways Cable Operators Can Boost the Customer Experience

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

The customer experience has always mattered, but its importance has grown in recent years. This has been driven by increased global competition, including the almost instant availability of alternations, and the rising expectations by fickle and informed consumer. Yet, cable operators have a long way to travel if they want to deliver the customer experience (CX) that consumers demand.

The Temkin Group’s Q3 2014 survey of 10,000 US consumers’ opinions about goods and services registered the lowest ranking average Net Promoter Score (NPS) for pay TV providers, a telling statistic. Internet service providers did almost as poorly, coming in only one position higher.

“As technology innovations drive shifts in consumer behavior and open new service opportunities, operators must start eliminating pain points,” stressed Alcatel-Lucent’s Nicholas Cadwgan in a recent TechZine article, Cable MSOs transform the customer experience. “This includes any obstacles that will impede their ability to launch and provide adequate care and quality assurance for those services.”

Cadwgan lays out four customer experience management (CEM) areas that cable operators should focus on.

The Evolution of Customer Experience Management: From scoring net promoters to customer effort

By:  Greg Owens, Senior Director, Global Marketing, Motive CEM Solutions, Alcatel-Lucent

I just returned from a Customer Experience Management (CEM) event in London. After attending the same event in January 2014, I reported that I was struck by how pervasive customer experience had become within the world of telecoms. Well, a year has not changed that. In fact, I no longer feel compelled to extol the virtues of focusing on customer experience. There is no doubt: CSPs are intent on improving customer satisfaction and on making it a key focus of their businesses. Many of the CSP-led presentations showed examples of mission and vision statements that place the customer smack-dab in the crosshairs.

So what has changed in twelve months? Here are some highlights, for me, of some great presentations and scintillating conversations that took place over the course of three days in the shadow of Westminster.

Customer Self-Care is Win-Win for CSPs and Users

By: Mae Kowalke, TMC Contributor

Self-service to one degree or another has been present since the rise of the web. However, customers are increasingly choosing self-service because they feel more empowered and it is often perceived to be an easier interaction than dealing with a live person. The rise of the smartphone also has increased the use of self-service.

In fact, as explained by Jessica Verbruggen, Integrated Marketing Assistant at Alcatel-Lucent Motive, in a recent TechZine article, Empowering Autonomous Customer Self-Care, self-service can be a win-win for customers and communications service providers (CSPs).

The Mobile Customer Experience: It's all about the Journey

By: Peter Bernstein, TMCnet Senior Editor

No matter where one looks these days, be it in enterprises or service providers, there can be no disputing that enhancing the customer experience has become a top, if not along with security the top,  C-level concern. 

Indeed, from burnishing the brand to enhancing customer loyalty, having permission to upsell and getting early visibility on new opportunities the customer experience (CX is now the short appellation) has become a cross line-of-business preoccupation and priority.  This has meant business units’ increased attention on listening to, analyzing and reacting upon needs arising from the “voice of the customer” (or certainly knowing more about their service usage behavior), and IT department focus on providing the tools necessary to support these requirements. 

It has also meant that businesses of all sizes and vertical markets are changing their views on what it takes to have a better understanding of the customers. This means using new metrics for success. It also has highlighted the realization that you need to look at life cycle management of customers, i.e., as the headline says it is no longer about the destination in the form of a sale but is about assuring optimization of what has been popularized as “The Customer Journey.”  

Ultimately, what it has also meant is that organizations need not only the tools, skills and strategies to optimize the customer journey but also need to be able do so quickly. The reasons are obvious but worth repeating.  Competitors are becoming more nimble and customers armed with better real-time information themselves have become more fickle. Time is of the essence.   

Illustrative of an area where there is, or certainly should be, a sense of urgency regarding having all of the capabilities to optimize the customer journey is in the global mobile services business. This is a sector rife with competition and susceptible to high churn rates.  The good news is that the information that resides in the network and various lines-of-business (LOBs), when properly mined, analyzed and acted upon can give service providers more satisfied customers and a competitive edge.

The question is, where are the places to go to get the information and tools needed?  The answer can be seen in a recent Alcatel-Lucent webinar, “LTE, It’s Not About the Destination, but the Journey,” which is embedded in its entirety below.

Analytics, Visibility are Key for Service Providers in Addressing the Connected Home

By Paula Bernier, TMC Executive Editor

Churn can be a costly problem for service providers, particularly when it gets up into the high double-digit percentages. And that’s exactly what can happen when customers are less than satisfied with their communications services. In fact, it has been estimated that churn is 89 percent for subscribers who have a poor customer experience.

But there is an answer.

Helping Customers Help Themselves: The Era of Self-Service

By: Jessica Verbruggen, Integrated Marketing Assistant at Alcatel-Lucent Motive

While the Internet and all of the technologies that have stemmed from its creation have served to make our lives easier in many ways, they can also be very confusing and frustrating at times. In these times, people have traditionally turned to call centers to get customer support. In today’s increasingly digitized world though, fewer people are relying on this form of assisted service. Contacting a call center tends to be time consuming and, often times, frustrating. Traditional customer support is not very well-suited to handling the millions of very specific questions that arise during device usage every day. Enter mobile self-service.

There are few areas of our economy today that haven't been touched by the growing self-service industry. Many, it seems, prefer to resolve their issues themselves. People relish the ability to “do it themselves” because it affords them a certain level of control over their devices and services that was previously not attainable.

The New Facet of Customer Experience Management - Field Service 2.0

By: Rhodo Odysseos, Product/Solution Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent, and Jess Verbruggen, Motive Integrated Marketing Assistant, Alcatel-Lucent

Traditionally, communications service providers (CSPs) have treated the field service aspect of their organization as a cost center. Field technicians engaged in maintenance activities were simply a part of the cost of doing business.  More recently, the communications industry in general and the field service arena in particular, has been disrupted by immense changes in the customer profile, service expectations, and behaviors.

Field service is often the only face of the company that a customer will ever see, so it’s not a surprise that CSPs are striving to make a positive impact on customers in this realm. Achieving full potential in field service saves CSPs a lot of time and money. Productivity and efficiency reviews targeted at field service operations, done correctly, can reinforce other areas of the business by increasing customer satisfaction and improving safety and quality. 

How signaling spikes affect networks: 3 real-world examples

By: Josee Loudiadis, Director of Network Intelligence, Alcatel-Lucent

Data and signaling growth are usually good news for network operators, since growth often translates into higher revenues. But when growth is averaged over a month or quarter, the daily highs and lows of network activity are smoothed out. And signaling spikes remain hidden within the averages. These spikes can overwhelm available signaling capacity, which impairs the customer experience, as well as the operator’s reputation.

What happens when a spike occurs? Typically, a CPU Overload alarm appears on various mobile nodes. And the Network Operations Center (NOC) immediately starts praying that the burst is short-lived and doesn’t go over maximum peak-rate capacity. Because when that happens, all consumers are denied service access. Then, the process of identifying the source of the problem begins. This can be arduous, because it often involves applications completely out of NOC control. And the issue can’t be resolved easily without solid network analytics that enables engagement with application and device developers.

That’s the reason signaling information is a crucial part of the Alcatel-Lucent Mobile Apps Rankings report and why LTE World 2014 devotes an entire pre-conference day to the topic. It’s also why this blog offers a closer look at how some real-world disruptive signaling spikes got started — and were finally resolved.

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