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OSS/BSS transformation in telecom is a shift from a product centric to a customer centric model with the aim to improve customer experience and hence increase loyalty. Bringing change in BSS is about enabling the systems required to improve customer experiences, while change in OSS orchestrates the technical side of things in a seamless fashion, ensuring quality and efficiency of operations, besides taking care of business and service demands. While legacy OSS/BSS were largely siloed, next generation OSS/BSS takes a more holistic view of operations enabling innovations and operational efficiency, driving OPEX/CAPEX costs down and improving financial performance.

Why fool-proof OSS/BSS transformation?

Unlike earlier, telecom operators now have to deal with increasing complexity resulting from decreasing ARPUs, highly competitive markets, complex products and increasing consumer needs and wants from their service providers.

Also, today, the customer is comparing their operator’s standard of service to that of the best in the industry and finding it short of their expectations. Things have come to a pass that the customer would rather choose not to report an issue than dial customer support and deal with an un-empathetic agent on the other end of the line. The only time when a customer calls customer care is when they have been overbilled or when there is a service disruption. The reality of the day is this – the customer is more loyal to their devices than to their operator.

Then, there’s the age old question – is there enough demand in the market? It seems there isn’t. In many parts of the world, the telecom market has entered the maturity stage, which is characterized by growth prospects that are few and far in between. In markets like these, operators are finding it tough to add new customers with unmet needs. Undercutting price hardly helps in the long terms as margins are already low. However, with customer loyalty at an all-time low, operators must find a way to differentiate their product from that of their competitors or risk becoming irrelevant.

Indeed, in the present situation, the biggest dilemma before the operators is – how to do more with less?

The answer to this question probably lies in the substantial telecom investment made on networks as well as on OSS/BSS. Operators must transform their OSS/BSS according to telecom realities of the day – linking organizational and technological silos and taking a more holistic approach to day to day operations. Any such transformation will not be complete without taking cognizance of the three important cogs in the organization – people, processes and systems.

Fool-proofing people, processes and systems

Ultimately, it is all about driving efficiency. It is about empowering employees to deliver efficiency and better customer experience, time after time. For example, operators can improve “first-time resolution rate” and decrease “average hold times” by providing a single unified view of customer’s usage of data and intelligent tools that would help in tracking and resolving the issue faster.

Similarly, fool-proofing process is about by establishing common ways of working, bringing in more automation and generally simplifying things in business process implementation.  Automatic service fulfillment, service and network assurance, and increasing time to market lie at the core of OSS/BSS transformation. Better real-time reporting tools help in incident management and thus assuring network and services. It also leads to less system downtime and hence better customer experience.  Similarly, operators can cut costs as well as increase efficiency by automating processes that are repetitive, high volume and that adds complexity to operations.

Finally, systems have to become convergent, service and business-oriented. For example, while tapping alternate revenue streams, operators are faced with the challenge of maintaining uniformity in their business processes and in customer experience, while ensuring minimal change to the existing ecosystem. With BSS transformation operators ensure uniformity across all major business processes like customer interaction management, billing and provisioning. This simplifies the overall business management and aids decision making via converged reporting and analysis.

By fool-proofing OSS/BSS transformation, operators can actually do more with less, improving customer experiences, managing costs and thus improving financial performance.

March 7, 2016 0 comment
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Thumb rule for a successful business: Customer experience management

Customer experience has emerged as the key differentiator in today’s globally connected and competitive business environment. Customer experience management (CEM) as defined by Gartner is “the practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and, thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy. In short, CEM is the sum total of processes a company uses for tracking, overseeing and organizing the interactions with its customers throughout the customer lifecycle for increasing customer retention and adding new customer with word of mouth advertising.

The Goal of CEM

The root goal of Customer experience management is to optimize customer interactions in order to foster customer loyalty reducing churn. It enables them to gain a thorough understanding of their target customer in order to be able to design and deliver a unique and personalized experience that not only keeps them motivated to remain loyal customer but also act as advocates of one’s brand to the other.

How to make Customer experience management effective?

Customer experiences have got new inclusions. Not only they include interactions through the traditional channels such as buying, service requests along with call center communications but also through Mobile self-care apps and social CRM channels like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Thus, the companies need outlining a strategy encompassing all customer touch points.

Why is Customer experience management (CEM) important?

Digital marketers are totally aware of the fact that the managed experience delivered to a customer while buying a product or service is as important as the product or service itself. Differentiating one’s customer experience from competitors can provide the organization with substantial business value which is why they have started investing substantial time and resources in delivering a highly personalized superior experience to increase customer loyalty.

great customer experience can achieve the following benefits for business:

  • Enhance consumer loyalty through interesting and personalized user interactions
  • Boost sales and revenue through repeat orders from existing customers and addition of new customers through word of mouth advertising
  • Build a superior brand image through differentiated consumer experiences
  • Reduce costs associated with losing customers to competitors due to non-differentiated value perception in the eyes of the customer.

The CEM process

Delivering this kind of personalized customer experience increases loyalty but requires a depth of consumer understanding that requires accessing and analyzing in depth data gathered from all customer interaction touch points and communication channels throughout the organization.

The first step in designing a personalized and differentiated customer experience is to understanding the customer. This entails creating customer profiles using both first hand structured data in conjunction with third party data. By creating detailed customer profiles digital marketers can:

  • Build an understanding of consumer needs and expectations
  • Make informed decisions in real time to improve experience
  • Gain insight on how consumer experience can be enhanced at specific points of interaction.

Once the socio-economic as well as emotional motivations driving buying behavior for one’s key target segments is identified, CEM then involves personalizing the buying experience to an extent that the customer feels special and valued.

As a process CEM is driven by the give and take of information. Marketers use the information available to analyze consumer profiles to design superior experience and then pass on the information about consumer preferences to consumer facing personnel to ensure they are able to deliver differentiated service to consumers, who in turn pass on the data related to their interaction to marketers. This two way flow of information drives customer experience management and enables organizations to differentiate their brand from competitors to turn one time customers into brand loyalists.

July 31, 2015 0 comment
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Amit Sanyal, Assistant Vice President & Joint head for the Consumer Value solutions business, Mahindra Comviva shares his views on the best practices and key challenges in this space.

Mahindra Comviva’s CXM strategy for Latin America

Enhancing CXM tools is key in the LATAM region.

Mahindra Comviva’s products span the entire customer lifecycle.

Best practices in Latin America

We have seen in that region, focusing on customer experience, we have also players focus on systems and processes which as a KPI also impacted customers and now what we have seen is that the region is now focusing on significant time and investment in analytics. Telecomm analytics focused upon marketing.

Mahindra Comviva’s Latin America

Mahindra Comviva is not new to Latin America. We have been a player along with several operators in close to 11 countries. What is new to us, when we were in the field of play earlier, when I compare LATAM to the rest of the world, the key seemed to be analytics, big data and how do I create actionable insights to improve my customer service and then overall experience. New acquisition is difficult, people have multiple sims hence customer experience management and input into customer experience management like big data, analytics and marketing .

From Comviva perspective what we see, let’s take Comviva as an organization we are not a one solution organization, we don’t have products that one part of the telecomm operators ecosystem or even one part of the customer’s lifecycle whether in content commerce, value management. What we have from analytics, big data perspective. Comviva solutions manage the complete lifecycle right from the onboarding of customer and what can you do, if he is dis-satisfied, how do I win him back , While other companies have what the industry calls point solutions providers where I touch only one or several parts of the consumer’s lifecycle but I don’t take lifecycle as a single event, but I say it is not a transaction for this event. But this is a solution in a sweet, portfolio format.  It touches every part of the customer lifecycle.

While there are several players to big to nascent, we have very few players who are industry recognized. How do I qualify? So recognized by an independent party versus an operator. So Comviva is one of the few whose solutions has been a suitable offering for the telecomm operators.

What we bring on the table is global perspective , when a customer engages with us for a particular problem set, what Comviva does is we get our global practices that benefits the operator hugely so you are unrestricted . Why Comviva is different and price competitive also.

CXM uptake in Latin America vis a vis globally

The Latin American market is similar to the Indian Subcontinent, that you see in LATAM, coming out of the Indian operations, however Comviva recognizes this, what we offer for LATAM is everything operating out of Latin America, so for the customer the proposition is in your language, your time zone.

In a Nutshell

From the Mahindra Comviva perspective we are updated with operators in the Latin American market and in the current year, Latin America is an area for high focus, we incredibly believe we can add value to the operators businesses and also significantly expand there KPI’s with the ultimate goal of training operators. Significant focus for Comviva this year, with a clear thought process that we can add value.

July 23, 2015 0 comment
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Managing customer experience in Latin America is an interesting proposition-and not merely because each country differs vastly from the other in terms of culture and the law. As a side note to the unwary, this simply means that adopting a “one size fits all” approach won’t help you achieve anything.

Focus on Customer Experience

Let’s break it down further. This region has always been a bit of a paradox. The demand for mobile services is on the rise. Nevertheless, the journey towards focusing on and prioritizing customer experience management (CEM) has been markedly more relaxed than the rest of the world. To illustrate-according to a KPMG report, customer satisfaction has enjoyed the spotlight for quite a while in Brazil. However, some time ago, poor customer service and an increasing number of complaints compelled Anatel (Brazil’s telecom watchdog) to order three incumbent mobile operators to stop selling new service plans in some states until they improved their services.

Customer Experience Management, Now

Of course, that was then. Today, CEM is slowly but surely emerging as a priority in that extremely volatile telecom market. This is because regulators have been increasing prodding and pushing operators to provide nothing short of excellent services to customers. In fact, stretching the argument a bit, the deployment of 4G in the region is expected to have the same result-increased pressure on service requirements. It’s quite simple, really-4G, or LTE, is data intensive and will lead to higher-value customers accessing more media on their mobile devices. This will result in the need for increased support for various issues ranging from the technical side of things to billing.

Customer Experience Management- A Vital Component

But, wait. What ails Latin American operators? Why isn’t it obvious that CEM is a vital component of any operator’s war kit? Well, according to industry analysts, the response to that question is two-fold and gives a fair hearing to customers and operators alike. First, customer expectations have changed dramatically over the past five years. Today’s technology-savvy audience wants, no, demands, reliable and easy-to-use products and services. This includes an easy interaction with the company in question, quick problem resolution and (perhaps most importantly) a pleasant experience overall.

Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Wait, there’s a catch. According to DirecTV Panamerica, on their part, operators in Latin America are concentrating more on providing functional or basic services, with negligible emotional connection with the client. This simply means that the emphasis is on the brand and product and less on the relationship with clients. What worsens the situation is the “silo mentality” prevalent amongst operators in this region.

Now, operators, pay attention-your clients are willing to increase their business with you in exchange for better customer experiences. Opportunity knocks! Make the most of it by breaking through existing information silos and realizing the importance of deploying a multi-channel CEM strategy!

Let’s cut to the chase-a unified customer experience makes all the difference in ensuring and improving customer loyalty and minimising churn. The world has turned digital and to differentiate your brand from the clutter, it is imperative that operators cater to the customer’s entire lifecycle, while walking the tightrope of the silos of customer care, finance, sales and marketing and IT departments.

Multi-Channel CEM Strategy

Meanwhile, what does deploying a multi-channel CEM strategy mean? Well, customers today have several communication channels to choose from. The bottom-line is the same though-a streamlined conversation with the operator of their choice across the various channels I just mentioned. Operators, content isn’t enough, the game is to seamlessly and flawlessly flow between these channels. The result-a unique experience for the customer!

On this note, allow me to quote Telecoms IQ on the top four customer-centric actions that are a must for telecom operators-focus on an omni channel experience, use data to obtain a holistic picture of the entire customer relationship, invest in first contact resolution and identify high-risk-and-value customers.

Sounds good? Now, how does one go about achieving this? Quite frankly, my money would be on big data and data analytics. Here’s why-the Cisco® Visual Networking Index™ (VNI) Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2014 to 2019 states that global mobile data traffic will reach an annual run rate of 292 exabytes by 2019, up from 30 exabytes in 2014. On an interesting side note, Latin America will witness a 59 per cent CAGR and a 10.1-fold growth. With these data volumes, doesn’t it make good business sense to chalk out analytics-centric plans to gain insight?

Easier said than done, so, to quote Telecoms IQ once again, a few common themes to ensure value is derived from big data and data analytics include selling customer data to third parties (for example geo-spatial data to retailers), working with third parties such as software developers to crunch the data in new ways, gleaning new insights and selling the same, or simply using the data to better target and personalise marketing campaigns to customers. From the perspective of CEM, a few vital questions that ought to enter one’s mind are: can the new information available to us help us to improve our customer experience? The bottom-line is: mine the right data, learn from the insights and implement the right changes to improve customer experience and service. Who knows, it might do wonders to your bottom-line!

Conclusion

In a nutshell, the business mantra for every operator today is putting the customer first. Today’s customers are informed, they know what they want and they have a voice. Isn’t this reason enough to sharpen your CEM tools? Latin American operators, are you listening?

June 8, 2015 0 comment
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Mobile and fixed broadband traffic is exploding driven by increasing penetration of broadband infrastructure, smart devices (phones, tablets, phablets etc.) and some compelling internet based applications. All this has brought new challenges to Internet services providers (Mobile operators, fixed line service providers, ISP’s etc.). One of the critical challenges for the Internet Service providers has been the emergence of OTT vendors, who seem to be pushing the service providers towards irrelevance. The service providers with their huge investments are fighting tooth and nail to maintain their relevance. It is a foregone conclusion that service providers will not be able to fight this onslaught by the OTT vendors, so they are now focusing on joining hands with the OTT vendors (if you can’t beat them, join them). Joining hands essentially means that the service providers will need to bring some specific value additions in terms of the infrastructure/services for OTT vendors and consumers.

One of the compelling areas being explored by services providers is the differentiated “Customer Experience”. Among the many things which have an impact on the user experience, “Caching” systems are most significant. Caching systems essentially work as “mini internets”, where content of the frequently accessed internet sites are stored.  Today, these systems are deployed at various points in a service provider’s network and this eliminates the need to fetch the content from the internet every time content is demanded. This has many benefits for the internet users (consumers) and service providers alike.

The fact that the content is saved locally and there is no need to fetch content from the internet, the services providers will save on the internet backhaul costs. Faster availability of content to the consumer reduces the time required to deliver the service, which in turn enhances consumer satisfaction. This translates into higher internet consumption, ultimately resulting in more revenues for the service providers. The fact that you are likely to deliver services faster also means that the consumer is likely to release the network earlier, implying other consumer can use the same network more number of times. So caching essentially creates additional bandwidth for the service provider.

The fact that the above infrastructure is already in place, service providers are looking to find other useful monetization techniques using their Caching infrastructure. The following caching enhancement possibilities will help service providers to increase the potential of monetizing their caching infrastructure.

Optimized Caching System:

Given the context of evolution of cloud based technologies, there is a high possibility that most of the service provider’s infrastructures are likely to be moving into the cloud. RAN or the Radio Access networks will remain for some time to come being the last mile access to service provider’s network.  Investments around RAN are very capital intensive and any technology which will help the service providers to save on this will be compelling, especially in these times of uncertainty for the service providers. In addition, if it also helps in improving the customer experience it will be icing on the cake which can be taken to OTT vendors as differentiated value proposition. Incremental capabilities around content optimization with the caching systems (like Image transcoding and device based caching), will offer compelling differentiators. Simple capabilities like image transcoding (which means lossless image compression), can potentially reduce the size of image by 40% which would mean significantly less traffic on RAN. Less traffic on RAN means service providers or operators can delay (postpone) their investments on RAN, while allowing them to squeeze in more customers to serve (ability to serve more number of unique customers), which allows further monetization abilities for the operators.

Considering the fact that video is more than 50% of the overall traffic today, If the caching systems further support additional optimization capabilities like video/audio transcoding/transrating this could be a compelling value proposition to operators, with multifold improvements in all the benefits listed above.

Continuing on the optimization theme, the device based caching capability brings in a certain level of intelligence to both optimization and caching capabilities. Once a specific content has been optimized for a device, it is cached. This makes the device specific optimized content available for a similar device trying to access the same content. . So that means we are doing intelligent delivery of cached content, the benefit would be better customer experience which will indirectly result into more revenues explained in the previous paragraph and the ability to delay investments again on the RAN side.

These simple techniques will go a long way in enhancing the monetization capabilities of the service providers.

More Monetization: Policy Based Caching systems- “CASHING as Service”

It is possible for the service provider’s to go ahead and have different kind of agreements with OTT vendors with varying levels of SLA’s.  for example, if they use the service provider’s caching, Caching systems can support multiple channel segregation at  the backend for the request to be routed over premium channels. So in case a service provider has 3 different ISP connections 2Mbps, 4 Mbps and 8 Mbps then,  the service provider has an agreement to deliver differentiated quality of service for a specific OTT vendor then the Caching System can route the request to 8Mbps link. This means OTT vendor is able to create a compelling user experience for its customers and the operators will be able to monetize further, through OTT vendors by offering infrastructure with differentiated capabilities.

Further, the caching systems can support policy based caching wherein it is possible for the service provider to decide content from which OTT vendor needs to be cached, depending on whether the OTT vendor has an agreement with service provider or not.  So if the OTT vendor has an agreement with service provider, then he can decide to cache the content or not. Coupled with all the optimization features discussed above, this becomes extremely relevant since the bandwidth prices for some ISP’s are dropping down significantly so the backhaul cost saving may not be compelling enough. However, the differentiated customer experience is compelling value proposition which can be definitely be offered to OTT vendors.

Service Providers Caching Systems will need to support the fulfillment of such a business model, by generating revenue reconciliation reports including percentage hits to the specific OTT vendors cached content and revenue reconciliation reports based on the agreements/SLA’s. It is apt to remember that every transaction processed by the service provider’s caching system, is a transaction saved by the OTT vendors, Which means lower CAPEX overheads for the OTT vendor,. So there is a case for service providers to offer “Caching as a service”.

Caching and its evolution for further monetization: “Federated Caching”

As such I believe that the caching as architecture is evolving with philosophy of content close to consumer, Multi tired caching(storage) and Multi layered caching (L1 and L2 caching systems) and intelligent federated policy based caching. These evolutions will demand flexibility which as such we believe will be difficult to achieve with existing appliance based caching systems. The fact that there could be multiple caching systems deployed across various points of the network and across geographies for larger operators it is imperative to standardize the policies across these caching systems in order ensure consistent user experience across their networks. This will mean Policy enforcements across different points of caching using a centralized policy definition framework, with standardized interfaces like 3GPP defined Gx interface. The next generation caching systems will need to evolve to support such concepts.

With humongous demand for data services, the service provider will need to ensure that their infrastructure is flexible to support scaling on demand. With virtualization technologies, it is feasible to implement an architecture which is scalable on demand which is practically ruled out when it comes to appliance based caching systems.

In summary, with so many possible evolutions around caching, the basic infrastructure deployed widely by service providers can be tinkered at minimal cost to ensure that additional revenue opportunities are created to exploit the OTT boom.

December 11, 2014 0 comment
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