Managing OSS: Lateral thinking drives new use cases to combat churn
Churn is a constant; not just within telco but in any competitive vertical industry. But it’s a particularly serious problem for carriers, given fierce levels of competition and saturated markets.
Even when churn levels are low it’s still an issue that can’t be ignored because positions have to be defended.
What’s less constant, however, is the nature of churn. The traditional churn workflow has historically worked something like problem-complaint-response-churn. Today, it’s more like problem-churn, says Ola Billinger, solution manager at DigitalRoute.
Fewer and fewer customers bother to complain when they experience an issue on their service provider’s network. Instead, they just move on to a competitor as it’s become sufficiently easy to do so. Why waste time on the frustrations of calling a customer service 800 number?
For the telco, this creates a difficult state of affairs. If you’re losing customers before you’ve even had a chance to hear (let alone address) their complaints, what do you do? The obvious answer is that you have to find a way to ‘react’ to problems ‘proactively’, without even being told they exist! That’s the true gold standard in customer experience but few are delivering it. Doing so isn’t wishful thinking though; it can be done by deploying a Use Case known as ‘Experienced-Based Charging’.
Experience-Based Charging is an aspect of OSS Mediation (because information from the network is central to it). But it’s actually rooted in both Billing Mediation and Policy Control, given that it has one foot in the camp of charging streams. In so doing it marries together BSS and OSS information with an emphasis on having customer-problem solving decisions made close to the network source where an issue may have occurred. This means that near real-time solutions, to any issues that arrived, can quickly be imposed.
For telcos, this is a serious win even though, given limited OTT interaction, we are not yet seeing Experience-Based Charging Use Cases widely deployed. Yet. There is little doubt that this will change in short order with the industry rapidly moving towards MEC-like scenarios with data offload close to the access.
That being the case telcos should start asking themselves some key questions now if they want to reduce churn using this approach. For instance: What’s the best way to determine the ‘magic experience’ threshold or what is the KPI that delineates great customer experience?
Let’s look Experience-Based Charging in a little more detail. Its purpose is to enable charging plans to be adapted to reflect estimated customer experience more or less on-the-fly. The more data sourced from the network, the more accurate the estimation is likely to be. When the experience is identified as unacceptable or below identified thresholds but BEFORE the customer has complained, mitigating action can be immediately taken.
These actions might include:
- Adapting a rate plan
- Offering a top-up bucket
- Proactively notifying subscribers of an issue or remedial action
The question of how thresholds are determined will be a matter for each individual carrier but examples might be:
- Real-time threshold event notifications
- Information sourced via DPI
- Information sourced from analytics (such as trends and machine learning outputs)
- Feedback from OTT partners
The potential benefits of Experience-Based Charging are significant. Happier customers equals reduced churn equals greater profit and stronger competitive positioning. Proactive problem solving equals a better Customer Experience. Radio and Network planning may be improved at the same time.
The Experience-Based Charging Use Case is a question of ‘when’, not ‘if’. It may soon become a standard weapon in the way carriers address churn.
The author of this blog is Ola Billinger (pictured), solution manager at DigitalRoute
About the author:
Currently solution manager at DigitalRoute, and Commercial Product Manager prior to that, Ola Billinger is responsible for identifying and qualifying repeatable solutions within both the sales and pre-sales arena. Ola is an expert within OSS and Service Assurance, he has vast experience in the telco field from the CSP and also vendor perspectives and has enjoyed positions with companies such as Telia, Com Hem and Ericsson. Additionally, he contributes to marketing, technology viability studies and product management responsibilities.