Network tools should unlock better customer experiences
The proliferation of Over-the-Top (OTT) services, streaming video and complex solutions such as Voice over Long-Term Evolution (VoLTE) pose fresh challenges for communications service providers (CSPs) seeking to deliver good customer experiences, writes Jonny Evans
The expectation is that customer experience management (CEM) network tools should unlock better customer experiences across this new value chain. “Policy control and policy enforcement is the driver for this as those functions and applications gather the data and then make policy decisions, based on that data.
That can in turn help to control and manage the customer experience with good traffic management and prioritisation,” says Robin Kent, the director of European Operations at Adax.
Whatever the OTT service, a consumer uses; Reliable, stable services are the most important factors for customers choosing a CSP. Amdocs claims around a third of customers would migrate to other CSPs for better coverage or download speeds. So how can CSPs differentiate their offering while keeping the customer satisfied?
In the old days network performance was the key metric. Norbi Liron, the director of product management at TEOCO explained: “The old approach assumed that if there were no network performance issues, then every subscriber would be happy.”
These days customer data has become a significant factor, including device or service data. René Tonon, the business development manager at SysMech, added: “Subscribers interact with their device, and hence the network, significantly more often than other communication channels. Customer care teams need to be able to drill down on network performance data, network faults and planned network maintenance, in real-time.”
Neil Coleman, the head of radio access network marketing at Amdocs, emphasised that CEM is about more than just network performance. “Traditionally each aspect of the customer’s interaction with a CSP has had its own mini CEM for care, billing, retail and network. What’s becoming clear is that treating these in isolation doesn’t change the game for CSPs. CEM has the ability to connect the dots across the CSP’s organisation, driving insights across the whole business.”
In an increasingly diversified environment people expect on-demand access to everything, and CEM can help deliver this. “When an understanding of network performance is combined with quality of service and customer quality expectation it creates a more comprehensive foundation for CEM, providing enough data to offer recommendations to a network operations department,” says Jarkko Multanen, the chief executive of Accanto Systems.
Gerry Donohoe, the director of solutions engineering at Openet, advocates greater personalisation. Hesays: “To compete in the digital market place, CSPs must maintain relevance in the eyes of their subscribers and personalise the engagement, offering subscribers services and products when they need them. Realtime network data empowering network-oriented CEM systems is how CSPs can achieve this. These must be able make fast decisions on how to achieve the best outcome and interact with the necessary network components to trigger the policy changes for each individual customer.”
This customer-centric vision demands deep insight into customer behaviour, satisfaction and needs. “When using any services, the end user does not know what causes problems and malfunctions. Typically, the end user thinks the issue is in what they see, for example, if using the Facebook application and there are issues, the end user will assume there are problems with Facebook. CEM is needed to fully understand where the problem lies,” explains Mikko Hyvärinen, the director for CEM and platform products at Anite Network Testing.
Today’s CEM solutions can access, analyse and act upon multiple data streams, such as OSS, BSS, device, DNS and more. “We believe that companies who build strong foundations based on flexible data services will be in a much stronger position to help customers enjoy and manage their digital lifestyles with minimal fuss,” says Chris King, the senior director of product marketing, network and analytics at Oracle Communications.
The network is still at the heart of CEM but CEM can only be successful if network CEM is added to by inputs from all customer touchpoints. “Network oriented CEM can support the management of experience in all other customer touchpoints, since customer quality and behavioural indicators can be best measured from the network itself,” says Anssi Tauriainen, the director of business development for analytics at EXFO.
Network CEM provides insights into subscriber behaviour, service usage and customer experiences, enabling the creation and fast delivery of new service offerings. “From a network perspective, being able to dynamically reconfigure the network to address poor experiences delivers the dynamic quality of experience CSPs now require,” says Coleman.
That’s not to reduce the importance of the network. This remains core to the experience. “Network performance is, and I believe always will be, the key criteria that users measure their experience and levels of satisfaction. Increasingly good data analytics feeding policy and traffic management applications are the foundation of maintaining that good network performance.” said Kent
So have network data, rather than network performance become the new foundation for CEM? In truth both are essential. “Both network data and network performance need to be considered,” says Multanen.
Digital transformation has spawned a complex reality in which “CSPs’ must understand the real end user experience,” added Hyvärinen. With the network at its core, network CEM enables deeper insight into the complex interplay between all those factors that comprise the customer experience, such as network and device performance, application quality, place and more.