The convergence of technology, devices and content has ushered in a sea change in mobile communications. A growing breed of access devices is changing how people communicate by enabling an “always-on,” connected experience. Media-rich applications are supplanting basic voice services. And, Internet protocol networks are replacing circuit-switched networks to provide the bandwidth and speed to support today's interactive lifestyle. This fundamental shift in how and what people communicate is fueling unprecedented growth in data traffic, creating substantial new revenue opportunities for global operators.
Mobile broadband challenges ahead
The widespread success of mobile data services should be good news for operators who've watched voice revenues tumble, but there's a downside to the success. Demands on the mobile network are increasing as subscribers flock to data-intensive devices and applications. The appetite for mobile bandwidth is growing faster than revenue, creating a gap that threatens the technology's economic promise. And, mobile network congestion is on the rise as increasing numbers of subscribers unleash themselves from their desktop computers. That congestion is straining network resources and bandwidth, negatively impacting subscribers' quality of experience (QoE) and creating churn. Analysys Mason's 2011 study, Connected Consumer Survey, highlights just how critical QoE is in the evolving mobile market. The study, drawn from 6,000 consumers across France, Germany, Poland, Spain, the UK and the US, indicates that nearly 35 percent of mobile broadband users want to abandon their provider within the next six months. The primary cause for this high potential churn rate? Dissatisfaction with quality of experience.
Focusing on mobile subscribers
It's clear that operators have to place their focus squarely on understanding their subscribers' experience if they hope to succeed in this data-driven market. And, while that sounds like a relatively simple strategy, actively monitoring and managing their customers' experience with the network and its services creates its own set of challenges. Services don't always work like they should and can be impacted by a host of factors, including cell-site loading, application type, time-of-day, device type and location as well as capabilities and architecture of network resources. Determining which subscribers are using the network and what services they are accessing is difficult and often elusive. Hundreds of elements must work together to blend real-time services such as video and voice with non-real-time applications like presence, availability and user preference. Providing seamless service delivery and ensuring QoE in this complex environment requires a holistic, end-to-end view of the network, not just snapshots taken locally from nodes in the network. To gain that perspective, operators must have visibility into the resources involved across the end-to-end delivery path – from the subscriber's handset to the application server – to pinpoint anomalies and understand the customer experience.
To succeed in the highly competitive mobile broadband market, operators have to put QoE front and center of their business strategy. Effectively managing each customer's experience is one of the single most important differentiators. There's little loyalty among tech-savvy data consumers; if applications or devices aren't performing as expected, they'll simply move to another provider who can deliver a better service experience.
Existing operation support systems (OSSs) and billing support systems (BSSs) focus on the network. They don't provide the data and granularity needed to understand the individual subscriber's experience or customer problems that may be impacting business. Since these approaches tend to be reactive, the operator often isn't aware that a subscriber is experiencing a service-affecting problem until the customer calls or logs in with customer service to complain. As the growth in new subscribers wanes and brand loyalty becomes a major business focus, simply managing network performance won't provide level of detail needed to understand service from the subscriber's perspective.
Managing the customer's experience
Customer experience management (CEM) – understanding each customer's overall satisfaction with a company's entire service offering – is gaining favor among operators as they realize the relationship between customer perception of service quality and brand loyalty. CEM is a strategic approach to monitoring, measuring and managing all of a customer's interactions with the service provider. It provides a 360-degree view of the subscriber experience. CEM requires the complex aggregation and correlation of millions of continuously generated customer-usage transaction records that must be constantly enriched with information from other operator systems. This data is critical, yet there is so much data available that operators often have problems using the information to effectively understand individual subscriber experiences. The key is not only to tap into the data on usage, handset metrics, and connectivity performance, but then to correlate it all with subscriber experiences. Without that ability, an operator can only hope that it is meeting customer expectations.
Equipped with deep insight into customer behavior, operators can understand in real time how subscribers are interacting with their services and respond proactively to potential issues before they impact QoE. With a flexible CEM solution, operators can actively measure, analyze and understand what services subscribers purchase and how those services perform each and every time the customer interacts with them.
Success in today's data-driven market hinges on an operator's ability to put subscriber QoE front and center in its mobile business strategy. Effective management of the customer experience is one of the single most important differentiators in this highly competitive market. The ability to understand the end-to-end customer experience – from the moment a device is turned on until a service is engaged – is critical to building and maintaining brand loyalty and, ultimately, to securing revenues. Equipped with a flexible and proactive CEM solution, operators can place subscribers at the heart of their business and processes and create a proactive, personalized subscriber experience that attracts and retains customers.
Tekelec's Performance Intelligence Center (PIC) CEM Portfolio provides the in-depth, near real-time data and analysis operators need to oversee end-to-end subscriber QoE. A suite of customer-focused applications enables providers to proactively and reactively visualize the overall subscriber experience from multiple perspectives. While many systems approach CEM from a node, subscriber or device viewpoint, Tekelec uses a different approach. It provides a unique, holistic view of the subscriber experience from data that's collected from all practical sources as close to the customer as possible.