Why Mobile Operators Need to Think About Strategic Experience Design

Posted: April 7th, 2014 | Author: Special Contributor | Filed under: Industry Insights, Telecom Trends | Tags: , | No Comments »

Steve Jobs was famous for his obsession with design. He believed that to make a brilliant product, one needs to control the design of all aspects of the product and not rely on third parties if that means losing control over design.

This obsession led to many Apple products that stand out as being superior in terms of the full customer experience, which in turn helped the company grow and build a loyal customer base.

Most operators’ strategy includes the term Customer Experience in one way or another. Even so, are operators really focused on this throughout all steps of their product development process? Are they thinking strategically about Experience Design?

Comptel recently introduced the term Strategic Experience Design, explaining how this focuses on mapping journeys that customers will take with a product or service.

For example, let’s look at a mature market operator serving customers on tariff plans with data volume caps. Our operator offers a streaming music service accessed through operator-specific apps. The music service is very popular among customers and the operator has put a lot of effort into the app design to provide a good customer experience, aligning layout and functionality with other apps and websites from a set of Experience Design guidelines.

As data traffic increases in the mobile network, more and more customers reach their monthly data volume cap and need to decide whether to top-up or upgrade to a bigger plan.

What the operator might not realise though is that 90 percent of customers who reach their monthly volume cap do so while listening to music on the operator’s music streaming service. And reaching the cap results in a negative customer experience because the music pauses without any message explaining why.

To get this insight, the operator would have to combine data from several systems that are usually not combined – or get feedback from a large number of customers.

Using this insight, the operator could improve the music streaming app to be aware of the data capping and include options for customers to decide how the app should behave when they reach their data cap during music streaming. The additions to the app design could be a real-time data volume counter in the app and settings to allow automatic top-up if the customer’s cap is reached during streaming. In addition, the network could allow music streaming beyond a customer’s cap until the end of the next track or playlist.

Incorporating these levels of awareness and interaction between apps and the network is an example of Strategic Experience Design. The operator leverages all data sources to gain insights and allow apps to interact with them in real time to offer the best possible customer experience. Our operator’s current approach has resulted in a very good app, but the customer experience is hampered by the fact that not every journey has been mapped out.

By thinking about Strategic Experience Design, the operator gains a competitive advantage over third-party music streaming apps, which can’t offer the levels of awareness and interaction between apps and the network. This would act as a retention driver leading to improved loyalty and also as an acquisition driver leading to customer base growth (once the competitive advantage is understood outside the operator’s current customer base).

This is very much like what Steve Jobs did at Apple.

He applied an almost obsessive hands-on approach throughout all steps of a product design to ensure brilliant products – often rejecting ideas of development engineers on subjective design grounds. And although Steve Jobs didn’t have a term for his obsession and occasionally had an unstructured approach, he successfully used Strategic Experience Design as a true differentiator.

This is a guest post from Allan Greve, a co-owner of tefficient.

Tefficient is an international efficiency specialist providing telecom operators and -suppliers withanalysis, benchmarks, consulting and coaching.

Survey: Customers Yearn for the Personal Touch from Mobile Operators

Posted: February 12th, 2013 | Author: Ulla Koivukoski | Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

It’s no secret that customer experience is a crucial element to communications service providers’ (CSPs) business growth strategies. Last year, I talked about the necessity to anticipate customer needs to help accomplish this, as highlighted by a survey conducted with research firm Vanson Bourne. This year, we worked with the company again to gain a global understanding of subscribers’ feelings toward their CSPs and found that they indeed welcome, and in fact desire, this personalised communication at every touch point. This includes from the first interaction when joining the service (35%), to when they are experiencing issues with the service (61%), to when their needs are changing (40%).

When would you like to have more personalised help/contact from your operator?

The good news for CSPs is that these interactions can help recoup the 20% of revenue that is currently being spent on churn compensation and retention, according to telecommunications industry consultant tefficient. While this number is staggering, it also means there is a huge cost-savings opportunity – if CSPs can earn customer loyalty. For one, churn prevention can be significantly reduced as, currently, more than one-third of consumers indicated that they might consider changing their mobile operators now if they could.

Would you like to change your operator now if you could?

Adding to this, there is a significant revenue opportunity to be had if CSPs personally interacted more often with customers.  For instance, almost two-thirds of consumers said that they would like to download large files to their devices more often if they had a better rate plan for their mobile data, better bandwidth or a better device, and nearly half (49%) would pay for a temporary upgrade to download those files more quickly and improve their viewing experience, if offered.  On average, consumers are willing to spend $3.80 for a temporary service upgrade—accounting for an increase in ARPU of 12 percent.

If your mobile operator offered you a temporary bandwidth boost / data consumption upgrade for a small charge, how much would you pay?

As I mentioned in today’s press release, the key to making this a reality and, ultimately, to earn customer loyalty, is through contextual intelligence at every touch point. As the survey results show, consistent, personalised interaction puts CSPs one step closer to winning consumers’ hearts, more efficiently utilising assets and profitably monetising their offerings.

Data for this survey was gathered from consumers in Brasil, Chile, France, Germany, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom and Vietnam. A full copy of the research report will be available at Mobile World Congress (25-28 February 2013 in Barcelona) in Hall 6 at Stand 6C30, or by contacting [email protected]. You can visit our show microsite as well, for further examples of intelligence at every touch point.

Around the World

Posted: August 29th, 2012 | Author: OSS Team | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

FierceWireless Europe…
Telefónica ready to spend €1.5B on UK LTE auction

It seems that the adoption of LTE is continuing to burgeon around the world. Telefonica, a Spanish-based telecoms operator, announced it would invest around €1.5 billion to acquire LTE spectrum licenses at an upcoming UK auction. The new mobile licenses are designed to bring fast download speeds to the country, and UK regulator Ofcom said it will auction the LTE spectrum for the 800MHz and 2.6 GHz bands with the expectation that operators will launch commercial service in 2013.

Interestingly, Telefonica has already been working closely with the UK markets, as the region represented 11% of the company’s total revenue in the first half of 2012. The company has also made strides to expand its services to other parts of Europe. In 2010, the operator also acquired LTE spectrum in a German auction, bidding a total of €1.379 million, on top of a €842 million bid last year to acquire LTE spectrum in its domestic market.

On another note, Telefónica’s is enjoying the benefits of China Unicom’s strong performance this year, as the company holds a 5% stake in the Chinese company.

Light Reading India…
Smart Strategies For Telco Growth

According to Jatinder Singh, the principal correspondent for Light Reading India, the telecoms industry in India has been in a crisis due to dwindling revenues and the saturation of the urban market. Therefore, it’s time operators reassess their strategy and begin to innovate and expand their services.

Singh points out several key areas in which operators can focus on to turn around the telecoms market. The first is to leverage 3G technology. More specifically, the price of 3G technology has begun to decrease, and the time is ripe to push this technology in hopes of bringing awareness to tier 2 and tier 3 cities.

Next, the article states that Value Added Services (VAS) have shown recent growth in the market, and telecom companies need to create an ecosystem in which operators and VAS companies share revenues.

Finally, to turn around the telecoms sector in India, operators need to focus on providing services to the enterprise businesses and expand into global markets. It’s noted in the article that the business landscape is dominated by small and medium business, but the enterprise space in the country is largely untapped.  Also, many analysts believe the expansion into other parts or the world, like Africa, is the key to the growth and success of the telecom companies in the future.

Fierce Wireless…
Is Unlimited Data Making a Comeback?

We highlighted a story in July that discussed how operators, like Comcast, are offering tiered data services to manage their network. Now Fierce Wireless reports that some operators are offering unlimited data plans to attack the tiered — and arguably unpopular — data pricing model.

Since the industry moved towards a tiered data pricing structure to manage bandwidth costs, both T-Mobile and Metro PCS have seen dramatic subscriber churn. In fact, each has lost 205,000 and 186,000 net customers respectively in the second quarter alone.

According to Mark Lowenstein, managing director of Mobile Ecosystem, unlimited data offerings can help wireless carriers get their foot in the door with consumers, and set them apart from their competitors. Unlimited data “starts the conversation,” he explained, noting that consumers will then evaluate the other aspects of the providers’ service.

Do you think tiered data plans are going to the wayside? Which do plan do you think will provide more success in the future?

Survey: Customers Need More Love from Their Mobile Operators

Posted: February 21st, 2012 | Author: Ulla Koivukoski | Filed under: News | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Perfecting the customer experience has long been the goal for many communications service providers (CSPs). We certainly saw this issue reflected upon at last year’s Mobile World Congress. However, each year, as customer demands become more complex, it’s increasingly important for operators to do everything in their power to understand and anticipate customers’ needs and deliver on them.

We at Comptel wanted to gauge what customers think about their relationships with their mobile operators, and shed light on how mobile operators can better engage with them to increase loyalty and capitalise on potential upsell opportunities. (A big thank you goes to research firm Vanson Bourne who we commissioned last month to survey 2,000 consumers from across the United Kingdom, France, Germany and the United States.)

The survey findings clearly indicate that customers need more love from their mobile operators. Two-thirds of respondents said that they feel neglected by their mobile operators, and more than two in five are likely to churn within the next two years as a result.

Would you appreciate your mobile operator being more interactive with you based on how you use its services?

More interaction would certainly go a long way in ensuring customer satisfaction. For instance, more than one in five respondents reported experiencing poor quality of service (QoS) at least once a week. Yet, the majority of customers (72 percent) are largely willing to forgive and forget if their mobile operator apologised and sent a special offer. Younger customers aged 18-25, in particular, are most likely to become more loyal if shown more love.

If your mobile operator noticed this poor service when it happened and sent you an offer (e.g. free coffee at Starbucks) and apologised, would you be more loyal to them?

The survey also revealed that there are significant revenue opportunities to be had if mobile operators were more attentive to their customer bases. Nearly three in five respondents said that if their mobile operator offered faster download rates, they would pay for it. In fact, nearly one in five respondents said that they would be willing to pay more than five pounds, euros or dollars extra monthly for such an upgrade.

If your mobile operator offered you faster download rates, how much would you pay for this a month?

Like I said in today’s press release, with so many customers expected to churn if their needs are not better met, mobile operators need to adapt to their demands for more personalised and dynamic services to survive. Comptel believes real-time data collection and analysis and increased customer interaction are critical to fostering loyalty and maximising revenue opportunities.

A full copy of this research report will be available at our booth at Mobile World Congress (27 February – 1 March in Barcelona) in Hall 1 at Stand 1C06, or email [email protected]. We hope to see you at the show and look forward to discussing the issue of customer engagement further in the coming months.

Once you go Mac you don’t go back

Posted: May 27th, 2011 | Author: Steve Hateley | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

A lesson on capitalizing on the needs and aspirations of the customer, from real users.

On a grey and blustery final morning at Management World 2011 (#mwd11) and in a week when I had received countless notifications about exceeding my mobile data roaming limit, I felt it appropriate to tune into the “Optimizing Customer Experience Summit” specifically its “Creating Loyalty” focus.

Ericsson had “creatively” pulled in a mixed panel from the Facebook generation, selected demographically from the Dublin student and young adult fraternity, to discuss their likes and loathes associated with the mobile subscriber experience.

Almost instantly it became evident that to this select group – who in reality are likely to be some of the biggest consumers of data – that Mobile operator brand was NOT important… a shocker, I know!

Buddy-Bundling: To this bunch of intellectually-apt users, their priorities were led by application bundles that enable them to maximize social interaction with close friends, for the least cost and with offers including group handset deals – some even switching from iPhone to Blackberry to get them. In some examples the panelists talked about entire groups of friends deciding through Facebook discussions to switch operator and handset to get the best inter-friend bundling deals.

Security observation: A common misconception of the younger generations using next generation technology and innovation is of negligence associated with identity and account protection. This group of individuals actually highlighted concerns around security and encryption, maturely stating that other than for iTunes (the exception) they would generally choose not to save credit card details on their handset-accessed accounts. Some of the panelists acknowledged the risks associated with phone theft and the potential identity theft that could follow. I was surprised but pleased to hear this level of maturity and awareness.

It’s of no real surprise that in the eyes of the panel as consumers, Apple emerged as the ultimate brand they would like to build their media and social lifestyles around. Barring the unfortunate high price of the iPhone and iPad, Apple could happily command loyalty. In the words of one of the panelists “Once you go Mac you don’t go back”.

So why is it that operators can’t create such brand loyalty?

Apple’s go to market is built pretty much entirely around the user experience with its intuitive interfaces, media, application and communication on-device ecosystem tailored for ease of use. But take a look at the top operators highlighted in the panel session – Vodafone and O2. The panelists regaled us with their experiences of all-encompassing bundles (with hidden over the top charges for the obvious extras that users would want to use), poor customer service, non-tailored product bundling, patchy coverage in obviously populated areas and unwanted, poorly researched marketing attempts. The fact is that “… Products will pretty much always get commoditized, so differentiation has to come from customer experience – the quality, the way you sell and the way you support them”, a comment made in the customer loyalty session that followed.

So could I be so bold to suggest that if subscriber churn is such a problem for Mobile operators, they start using the data that is available to them from their network, services, devices, billing and CRM systems to up their game on personalization and think about becoming the “Apple of Communications – Social networking enabler or choice”. As commented by Amdocs in the following session, operators should take this extensive data, add some real-time processes and they open the door to a great Customer Experience opportunity.