The winning ingredient: customer care

Joseph Waring
23 Apr 2010

In a major change from a year ago, content partner management moved into fourth place from eighth last year, with the percentage say this is getting the most attention doubling from 15% in 2009 to 31% this year.

Operators were giving less attention to interconnect and cost management (down to 23% vs 33% last year) as well as revenue assurance. Despite being combined with fraud in this year's survey, only 22% said it was getting the most attention (compared to 38% last year for RA alone) - falling to eighth place from third just a year ago.

Looking at companies' top OSS/BSS initiatives this year, this year's survey results showed a continued focus on service quality, which was ranked top for the second straight year - after jumping sharply last year to overtake new services (see chart at the left).

There was little change in the priority of these initiatives compared to last year. But one shift was the rising importance of service bundling, which ranked eighth in 2009 and moved up to fourth, with 43% of respondents saying it was the most important initiative.

Quite simply, bundled services have moved up because operators are beginning to understand what customers want.

"It isn't just about voice, or video, or broadband access," insists Karl Whitelock, a senior consulting analysts with Stratecast, a division of Frost & Sullivan. "It's about providing customers with choice and rewarding them with discounted offers if they choose the same operator to fulfill their needs."

He said we're going to see this concept take on even more significance in the months ahead as competitive offers increase, networks become more integrated, and as operators better focus on meeting customer needs which goes way beyond simple "technology only" offers.

Losing significance was FMC, which dropped from fourth to fifth - only 27% said it was a top priority compared to 37% a year ago. Process changes also dropped - from 27% saying they were the most important initiative last year to 21% this year.

Network upgrades/convergence again ranked the No. 2 priority, with 58% of those surveyed saying it was most important. And faster launch of new services was third, with almost half of respondents considering it a high priority.

In charge of CEM

The number of operators indicating they are running a CEM program has doubled over the past two years - from 34% in 2008, to 58% last year, to 66% in 2010. Whitelock said this represents the continued emphasis on customer service quality as a significant part of operators' business strategy.

Customer-care departments are increasingly leading CEM programs - from 26% last year to 38% this year (see chart above). Sales and marketing was No. 2, controlling 24% of the CEM programs (up from 21% last year).

The increased interest in CEM from customer-facing teams is attributed to operators starting to invest in real-time communication and customer interaction capabilities.

"Direct communication solutions have to provide operators with a wide range of applications and products to ease service usage and to enhance subscriber self-care capabilities. Continuous interaction is the necessary tool for operators to establish a closer and deeper relationship with the customer," said Orga's Freund.

Network departments also were more likely to lead CEM teams (from 9% a year ago to 13%) while both the executive office and IT where less likely (see chart above).

The survey found that 72% of those polled said they use data analytics and BI to better anticipate customer needs - almost a 10-percentage point gain from a year ago.

Sales and marketing departments were the most frequent user of this capability, representing half of all users (up from 36% in 2009). Customer care and product management both dropped off sharply from last year - falling to 13% from 25% and 8% from 15% respectively (see chart at the left).

The telecom industry has typically lagged behind many industries in its understanding of customers and use of BI. Consider how well large retailers know their customers, whether as groups or individuals, said Suard from Comptel.


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