Innovation with OSS mediation experience-based charging
In the last blog, Keith Brody introduced the concept of OSS Mediation. Now, let’s move from theory to practice and start examining the technology in action by looking closely at Use Cases. Potentially the most impactful, since it enables carriers to address the longstanding problem of churn, is Experience-based Charging (EBC).
EBC is a new approach to an issue, the nature of which is changing. The churn workflow historically has worked something like problem-complaint-response-churn. Today, this has been truncated. The more likely pathway is simply problem-churn says Keith Brody, head of Communications at DigitalRoute.
Fewer and fewer customers are inclined to deal with the 800 customer service numbers and annoying IVR systems offered by their service provider’s network. Instead, when they’re upset they just move on to a competitor’s network as it’s now sufficiently easy to do that.
For the telco, this is bad news. If you’re losing customers before you’ve even had a chance to address their complaints, then you have to find a way to react to issues proactively, even before you’ve been told they exist. This is what ‘Experienced-based Charging’ allows.
Experience-based Charging is seen as an aspect of OSS Mediation because it relies on using information from the network, though it has feet in the camps of both Billing Mediation and Policy Control too, given that it also uses data from charging streams.
It ties together BSS and OSS interests, with an emphasis on having customer-problem solving decisions made close to the network source where a problem or issue may have occurred. This enables near real-time solutions to problems to be imposed. For obvious reasons, this is desirable particularly if you foresee telcos rapidly moving towards MEC-like scenarios with data offload close to the access.
Telcos should start asking themselves some key questions now if they want to reduce churn using EBC. They might ask themselves: What’s the best way to determine the magic experience threshold or KPIs that delineate great customer experience?
Experience-based Charging is not technologically complicated. 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 a customer’s experience proves unacceptable or below identified thresholds but before the customer has complained, EBC means mitigating action can be immediately taken.
This might include:
- Adapting a rate plan
- Offering a top-up bucket
- Proactively notifying subscribers of an issue or remedial action
A customer who is immediately granted one of the above resolutions may become not only less likely to churn but more loyal as a result of benefitting from customer service excellence.
The question of how thresholds are determined will be a matter for each individual carrier but examples might include:
- 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 not hard to see. Satisfied customers mean reduced churn. Proactive problem solving delivers a better Customer Experience. A corrolary benefit is that Radio and Network planning may be simultaneously improved.
Though innovative now, I believe Experience-based Charging is set to become a standard weapon in the operator’s arsenal when fighting churn.
The author of this blog is Keith Brody, head of Communications at DigitalRoute
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