Real-time monitoring will increase data usage in emerging markets

Off the back of last month’s Mobile World Congress, a key trend that I noticed emerging was the need for service providers to recognise that the client is becoming increasingly central to their operation. Preventing churn used to be a major concern for operators, particularly in emerging markets. Nowadays, having a customer as a statistic on your network is not enough – they have to be using that network to generate revenue, and they’ll only do this if they’re encouraged.

With the high churn rates and low ARPU endemic to many emerging markets, customer experience management is becoming increasingly important to service providers in these regions. It’s no longer enough to merely ensure a high quality of service and maintain a network – operators must now focus on how their customers use the network and respond to their activity, thereby extending their lifetime value.

Customer experience management is particularly important in emerging regions as many markets are becoming increasingly deregulated. In addition, there is a lot of competition, meaning that operators have to compete in a unique way. Competing solely in terms of pricing is no longer an option, as it’s not enough of a differentiator – operators can’t engage in price wars as ultimately none of them will win.

Real-time monitoring is crucial to customer retention – decisions need to be made while dealing with clients, and these can’t be subjective. All relevant information needs to be available for the customer care team in order to create a meaningful policy that will attract the customer. “To combat churn, customers need to be provided with a positive, almost emotional response – simply hearing ‘no’ will drive them away”, says Igor Sarenac of customer management specialist Convergys.

A real-time view of how consumers are using services allows operators to make incremental improvements, encouraging use. Potential performance issues associated with specific devices can be easily identified; similarly, the popularity of applications among different customer segments can be analysed. In addition, operators have the ability to increase capacity and performance as more devices enter their network – performance can be fine-tuned in response to usage profiles.

“To provide consumers with a better service, mobile network operators need to have a better understanding of what’s happening at the subscriber base level.  By segmenting the whole subscriber base into smart micro-segments, operators are able to focus only on a specific demographic (high end customers, youth etc) rather than having to launch a mass campaign. They can then identify in real time how their customers recharge their devices, allowing them to develop numerous marketing strategies to give their customers what they want. With real-time, it’s not frozen information that’s over a month old; we’re talking about what happened one day ago, or even one hour ago, in the network”, says Gary Buchwald of customer value management firm Intersec.

Insight into mobile data usage also has benefits for marketing – users can be offered content that is more relevant to them based on how they use their device, while campaigns can be targeted based on user habits as well. It is much easier to establish which devices are being used, which apps are associated with these devices, and how this breaks down within customer segments. This information can be used to establish which devices are the most popular and profitable within a network; using this information proactively via targeted marketing can encourage uptake of a particular device, thereby boosting penetration.

Presenting this data in real-time provides a further differentiating factor, in that it presents a multi-dimensional view – rather than just presenting usage in terms of a device, application or network, the cumulative impact of all of these elements is measured together. The different aspects of the mobile ecosystem – device model, time and place of usage, application etc – are all measured to provide a better customer experience.

Oliver Finn, of customer insight specialist The Now Factory, observes: “If a customer using a particular device is having an issue on the network, operators want to pinpoint this as quickly as possible to identify the root cause and respond accordingly. This keeps the performance of the network cost-effective; if issues that could affect more users over time can be located in real-time and dealt with swiftly, this is beneficial both in terms of customer experience and network resources.”

This is particularly important in high-growth emerging markets – if issues are not resolved quickly, then new users joining the network will encounter the same problems and their first experience of the network is very poor. It’s therefore crucial that as more devices are added to the network, operators can see the effect of this in real-time.

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