Personalized service hooks the customer

Antonia Walter-Krisch/ LHS
25 Feb 2008

The rules in telecom business are changing not only in Asia, but also elsewhere in the world. Technology developments toward next-generation networks enable operators to offer new services to an increasingly demanding customer base. Ongoing digitalization and mobile lifestyles have lead to high expectations for service provision anywhere, anytime, to any device. With media and cable companies starting to compete for voice services, consumers have more choice than ever.

For telecom operators' sustainable business success, it is vital to know the customers and offer the services and tariffs that meet their specific needs. Personalization of the service offer and superior user experience are becoming important differentiators that decide whether a customer will stay or churn. How can operators achieve this and which technologies are in place today to help improve user experience‾ Three key aspects are essential: simplicity, choice and convenience.

Simplicity. Customers care about services, not technology. The ubiquitous roll out of IP technologies enables new revenue streams from rich multimedia services across fixed and mobile networks. From a technology perspective, convergence will most likely increase complexity of technology and business processes. However, next-generation IP multimedia subsystem-based architectures also hold the potential for more simplicity.

Convergent services promise ease of use through a single number, a single contract, and competitive pricing across diverse technologies. What's more, operators and their content partners can leverage re-usable application components and capabilities for faster time to market. Through harmonization of key service elements across a wide range of applications operators can improve usability and customer experience.

Choice. IMS is designed to enable an open approach in service provision. Consumers benefit from a wider choice of services and applications. Also, operators can benefit from the talent and innovation of application or content providers if they tear down the walls around their mobile and fixed-line portals.

Operator propositions, therefore, can be more personalized and tailored toward the needs of their targeted segments. What's more, they can benefit from the creativity of their customers through enabling user-generated content and community services, and thus stimulate usage and create loyalty.

Convenience. The perception of quality and convenience when dealing with an operator requires more than smooth services delivery. Offering convergent quadruple-play services cannot mean that a customer has to deal with as many bills and CSRs as services in the package. Every time a customer receives an invoice or contacts the call center for any reason, he or she can be influenced to churn or stay. Convenience requires operators to reduce the number of touch points, to increase transparency in their billing and charging, and be available any time and over the customer's preferred communication channels.

For some operators like the UAE's du, superior customer experience is already a reality today. du CEO Osman Sultan says customers are looking for two things: simplicity and convenience.
Sultan says the convenience of du's service packages such as the At Home quadruple-play product has played a major part in its rapid growth.

Efficient BSS and OSS platforms are important essentials to achieve customer perception of simplicity, choice and convenience. Alongside major network and service rollouts, operators need convergent systems that enable customer oriented business processes for all customers across all networks, services and payment choice.

Antonia Walter-Krisch is director of product marketing and market strategy at LHS

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