Network related end-to-end service experience analytics is the foundation for CSP-wide CEM
CEM is too big a topic for CSPs to digest in one bite. Anssi Tauriainen advocates CSPs start from subscriber, service and network analytics in order to establish a firm foundation for good customer experiences.
Any conversation about customer experience management (CEM) needs to start with a definition otherwise the conversation stalls under the weight of the breadth and disparity of the topic. Put simply, there’s no single solution to address all the challenges and issues presented by achieving effective CEM.
“CEM covers all the different touchpoints between a customer and a communications service provider (CSP),” explains Anssi Tauriainen, the director of Analytics Business Development at EXFO “In addition to the network and traffic data it covers billing, marketing and direct interviews – whatever the interaction, it is covered by CEM.”
That has created a complex and giant beast composed of different systems, solutions, processes and approaches to CEM. It’s not hard for CSPs to lose
their way or for vendors to inadequately explain their capabilities. “We still see there are hundreds of different solutions and tens of different definitions for CEM,” adds Tauriainen. “It’s a challenge to define a solution that covers all those interfaces because of number of interfaces, volume of data and complexity of analytics that should span over several domains.”
“EXFO is not trying to address the whole umbrella definition of CEM,” he adds. “We are focusing on endto-end service experience quality, where we analyse customer experience correlated with service and network performance.”
EXFO calls that subset of CEM, E2E-SX, (End-to-End Service Experience). “The basic idea is simply to understand how an individual customer experiences the services and uses them, and then find ways to improve or maintain that,” says Tauriainen.
E2E-SX addresses key CSP service quality requirements within the concept of CEM. “For CSPs, the challenge is very much the same as it has been for several years,” he says. “Traditional network management systems contain a lot of data on traffic and network information and use it to understand the experience of users but these are disconnected systems used by network engineers. Typical probebased analytics systems cover only core network, leaving radio, backhaul and transmission network performance as a question mark. Other user groups such as call centres have no access to them.”
“The lack of visibility into end-to-end experience means that network and customer facing departments are making their decisions based on partial data,” he adds. “They only have the partial network quality information, or the feedback information from the customer interface – but not true end-to-end visibility.”
Tauriainen says that disconnect becomes a greater challenge with the introduction of new technologies such as all-IP networks, voice over LTE (VoLTE) and ultimately network functions virtualisation (NFV), where end-user services are provided by multiple synchronised physical or virtual sub-systems. “To manage the experience in for example in VoLTE, you need to simultaneously analyse the control and user plane data and tap into the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) to understand what the quality indicators for the voice are and what experience has been provided,” he explains. “The challenge is getting bigger for CSPs.”
EXFO’s approach is to create a comprehensive, endto-end view into the service experience. It achieves this with its real-time analytics platform which combines input from various sources to cover the whole service chain from subscriber’s device to service and back. Such data sources can include passive and active probing solutions, end-user device agents, geo-location based radio network performance data, network elements and peripherals and backhaul and fibre network management systems. “This is what differentiates us”, says Tauriainen. “We have the solutions, knowledge and analytical capabilities to cover the whole chain.”
“Traditionally, the end-to-end picture has been used by network and service operations, engineering and planning teams and the second or third tier of customer support to assure services are up and running and the most efficient troubleshooting is enabled to fix any issues,” explains Tauriainen. “We cover the most complex part of the complete CEM challenge by focusing on the foundation: how customers are experiencing the service and how it can be improved. While doing this, we also produce valuable intelligence such as customer profiles, segmentation and behavioural data. This information can be further used in many other network and customer facing functions directly via APIs.”
Tauriainen sees that focus enabling CSPs to achieve results from this part of CEM. “We’ve seen big interest in the overall CEM area and now we can help by creating a solid foundation and even further by supporting success stories in creating customer offerings for new services and markets,” he says.”
The author of this expert opinion is Anssi Tauriainen, the director of Analytics Business Development at EXFO
category: Expert Opinions