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With large, untapped subscriber reservoirs ripe for the picking, the opportunity for mobile operators to grow rapidly in the emerging markets is enormous...


With large, untapped subscriber reservoirs ripe for the picking, the opportunity for mobile operators to grow rapidly in the emerging markets is enormous. In addition to the tremendous growth in Asia, over the next four years, it has been estimated that the emerging markets of Brazil, India and China, will be in top five global markets for smartphone shipments[i].

Naturally, this rapid growth hasn’t gone unnoticed. In addition to driving huge increases in voice and data traffic, it has led to fierce competition amongst operators who are trying to attract new customers. However, with customers generating extremely low average revenues per user (ARPUs), profit margins are tight and as a result, operators are faced with mounting pressure to retain their profitable customers for longer. In order to do this, operators need to invest in their network and service provision, however this investment must be carefully targeted if operators are to maximise both their investment and their margins.

In order to gain the insight needed to make smart decisions on investments, operators need a toolset that goes beyond traditional customer relationship management (CRM). A solution is needed that will allow operators to take action based on a user or segmented users’ experience and behaviour in near real-time. In short, a far more granular approach is needed when reacting to subscriber demands.

In a fiercely competitive market, being able to act quickly is critical; it gives operators a new means to differentiate themselves from competitors. In emerging markets, this differentiation is especially important as the hyper-competition between operators drives down prices and makes customers more likely to base their decisions on which company offers best value.

In order to differentiate with service quality rather than price alone, operators must be able to make quick decisions about how to handle specific types of service-related issues. That means having access to the right data at the right time. With the relevant data, operators can enhance their understanding of the customer experience and the quality issues on an individual or customer-segmented basis. This information will help operators compete much more effectively.

To gain access to this data in near real-time, operators should look to a Business Quality Management (BQM) system which will allow them to extract data from across the network and other IT systems, to expose key performance and quality indicators at any given point in time. This will enable operators to tie the individual customer experience and the individual service level to the network itself, providing the ability to manage that at a customer-segmented level.

BQM is proving popular with operators in emerging markets because the functionality is delivered using data wherever possible from the systems they already have in place, without the need to replace existing processes and systems. BQM has the capability to tailor and customise the performance and quality indicators it collects for a specific audience. A customer service professional will require different data to a network engineer, or a manager of a network roll-out project, and BQM is able to easily extract and correlate the relevant data accordingly.

BQM is also proving useful in understanding the immediate impacts of such diverse things like marketing campaigns and network outages. Following in the steps of their counterparts in the developed markets, many operators in the emerging markets are increasingly keen to feed the trends made on social networking sites into their BQM systems, so that they can see how online mentions correlate with their operations. With the right measurement system in place, operators can correlate comments made online by customers, especially negative ones that can eventually lead to churn. It’s no longer enough to measure your service quality retrospectively - operators want to know what the perception of their business is in near real-time. By creating dashboards that quickly show trends in perception, action can be taken before any issues become damaging to the operators business.

One of the most important attributes of BQM is the ability it gives operators to be more proactive. It can help them to retain customers by responding to potential issues much faster. The information BQM collects from the variety of systems and processes within the business are correlated and presented at many different levels, to bring different statistics together to deliver business quality KPIs. BQM’s functionality doesn’t stop at service quality management and mitigating customer dissatisfaction in near real-time. It can also be applied across the entire operator business to manage internal operations as well as the performance of managed services providers.

Another benefit lies in the infrastructure management side of the operator business. Not only can BQM uncover the true customer experience of network capacity issues, but it can also identify the root cause and that’s its true value proposition. Once the metrics are being obtained across the business, operators can see how the business is performing and see where processes or thresholds can be modified to improve the overall customer experience.

That functionality is also applicable to operators that have engaged managed services providers to run parts of their operations, such as network roll-out and field services. Using a BQM system, operators can ensure that their own service level agreements (SLAs) are being met, even if an SLA is for a part of their business that is being run by a managed services provider. Acquiring a greater and timelier insight of their business performance in all areas, will give operators in emerging markets the data they need to focus their investment on areas that will provide the best returns and have the biggest impact on service quality. This will in turn help operators compete on service quality instead of price, and dramatically reduce customer churn.

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