Next Generation Communications Blog

Customer Experience

Sponsored Data Plans Can Help Keep Mobile Subscribers Connected

By: Paula Bernier, TMC Executive Editor 

It’s no secret that many of us these days are very attached to our smartphones and tablets. Yet for all the entertainment and value these devices – and the applications, information, and people they can access – provide, nobody likes getting bills from their wireless carriers. That’s especially true when the dollar figure at the bottom of those bills increase.

But there are some options mobile carriers might want to consider to help keep their subscribers’ data plan bills more manageable, and keep their customers happier. One way to allow for that is by introducing sponsored data charging programs.

Sponsored data charging programs are an effective way mobile carriers can help their subscribers justify the cost of connectivity, while growing their own user bases and expanding their ecosystems to include more application providers and marketers. That’s the word from Barbara Sampson, senior marketing manager for policy and charging PLM marketing, and Thomas King, manager of the policy and charging portfolio, at Alcatel-Lucent. The two wrote a recent TechZine posting, Operators benefit from sponsored data charging, that details how mobile operators can prosper with these types of programs.

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.

VoLTE Challenges: The Case for Integrated Policy, Charging and Diameter Signaling

By: Peter Bernstein, TMCnet Senior Editor


VoLTE Challenges: The Case for Integrated Policy, Charging and Diameter Signaling

Hopefully, Voice over LTE (VoLTE) has arrived or is coming to your preferred mobile service provider.  As mobile networks transform into end-to-end IP ones, the business case for VoLTE as a means for mobile operators to provide differentiated services, including high definition voice and multiple media ones, has become compelling and taken on a sense of urgency. 

Indeed, it is being viewed strategically as a way for service providers to distinguish their services on the basis of Quality of Experience (QoE) from 3G and OTT voice apps. It is also seen as providing competitive advantage because of its ability to enable end users to seamlessly move from a voice call to a video call, or shift from one device to another in the midst of the conversation.  It is why interest in accelerating VoLTE deployments is so high. 

However, network transformations are not easy.  VoLTE deployment and operations is an interesting case in point.  It brings unique challenges for service providers related to policy control, charging and Diameter signaling control.  Steffen Paulus, Director of Product Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent has some interesting insights worth sharing on the need for integrated policy, charging and Diameter signaling in a virtualized solution, as the path forward for VoLTE success.  This is particularly relevant in light of Alcatel-Lucent’s recent launch of its End-to-End Voice over LTE (E2E VoLTE) solution that is an integral part of the Rapport multimedia real-time communications platform which has been architected specifically to me service provider and enterprise needs.

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.

Motive Big Data Analytics (BNA) Helps Operators Leverage Network Data for Service Creation

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Service providers are seeing an increasing number of applications moving outside of their control. At the same time, they are facing stiff competition within their geographical markets. Developing new revenue streams has become a top priority.  As a result, many service providers have invested in business intelligence systems to help them figure out these new offerings and how to win and keep customers.

Interestingly, despite this need and a sense of urgency most service providers are ignoring their greatest asset: Their network. The network provides more visibility into subscriber usage and trends than Google, Yahoo and Facebook combined, according to a recent Alcatel-Lucent Motive posting on the value of big networks analytics (BNA).  They believe it is time for this visibility to be unlocked and put to work.

How a "Wi-Fi first" strategy benefits EMEA MSOs

By: Steve Davidson, European Marketing Director for Cable, Alcatel-Lucent

From original Alcatel-Lucent TechZine posting

A Wi-Fi first strategy can help multi-system operators (MSOs) remain competitive in the evolving marketplace.  Wi-Fi enabled devices default to using the cable operator’s Wi-Fi network for voice, and cellular equipped devices can switch to cellular when out of Wi-Fi range.

Although nuances in the business drivers for adopting such a strategy vary by region globally, this model turns the traditional cellular voice paradigm on its head.

Just like other communications or media industries, MSOs face a dynamic and extremely competitive market. As a result, in EMEA, they have evolved their end-user offerings to embrace market-leading fixed high speed internet access, Wi-Fi connectivity, and bundled mobile cellular services using mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) partnerships.

As the pace of change continues to accelerate, subscribers have made a widespread move to Wi-Fi enabled smartphones and tablets. A European commission study stated that 71% of all EU wireless data traffic in 2012 was delivered to smartphones and tablets using Wi-Fi. This is expected to rise to 78% by 2016.

European MSOs have already invested in Wi-Fi and offer data connectivity services in and out of the home. This not only is a customer retention strategy, but also lets MSOs build out further value added services (VAS) and can reduce data costs of their MVNO agreements.  So if we now contemplate the delivery of voice to these Wi-Fi enabled devices, how do we get started?

Existing Mobility Assets

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.

LTE Broadcast: More than just a Pretty Face for Mobile Video

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Mobile video is very popular. In fact, it is predicted to become very much more so in the future with the expectation that it will account for up to 69 percent of total mobile traffic by 2018. Demand is driven by subscribers who want to take content like news programs and favourite TV series with them wherever they go.

As discussed on the Wilson Street blog by Habib Nouira, Product Marketing Manager, Alcatel-Lucent, LTE broadcast is enabling operators and internet service providers (ISPs) to meet this need.  They are also exploring how the technology can expand their coverage areas, reduce customer churn, cut costs, and grow revenue.

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.


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