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In Battle to Improve Customer Experience, Data and AI Gives Telcos an Advantage

Written by Santeri Jussila, Head of Analytics Product Line Management, Nokia

Customer experience is the new competitive frontier for telcos, and it would appear traditional telcos are losing the battle to best-in-class digital players like Google, Amazon and Apple.

Telcos are sick of hearing their net promoter score compared to digital champions, but the reality is that CSPs rank far worse than those digital-only heavyweights in measures of customer satisfaction. Customer expectations for digital experiences are being set in other industries, and those expectations are coming into telco. CSPs must be ready in order to stay relevant.

Data analysis can be the differentiator, because it can provide the insight telcos need to create a better customer experience. Indeed, CSPs may be even better positioned to tap into data's value than those digital players. That's because they have the resources to invest in a long-term change, deep knowledge of both their business and the industry, and, most importantly, many years of customer behavior data, from call and SMS history to usage and location-based data.

Telcos are most successful when customers feel like their operator truly knows them. Data is the key to building that trust, because it can reveal insights that lead to effective problem resolution. To take things a step further, CSPs can also invest in automation and artificial intelligence to support proactive customer engagement.

Ultimately, it's all about creating a toolkit of capabilities and technologies that support perfectly timed customer engagements.

Data Supports Effective Decision-Making

Recently, the CEO of a CSP wanted to find out what was causing customer churn. Though he had an idea, he wanted to see proof in the data. The analysis showed that his intuition was correct: The customers who spent the most money were leaving in search of a better deal elsewhere.

But, he hadn't known about a second group of customers who were also leaving - customers who paid too little. Those customers weren't engaged and didn't get enough value from the service.

The insights gleaned enabled the telco to design several marketing campaigns to address the two potential problems. First, if a customer called and indicated that they were paying too much, the telco gave them the option to lower their rate. Second, the telco reached out via email to customers who were paying too little and offered a really good deal on adding more, to get them engaged enough to stay.

Your intuition is almost always right, but it is not complete. Data helps complete the picture and find trends that you wouldn't otherwise see.

AI Enables Digital Time

At the same time, data analysis can do more than reveal opportunities based on past information. When it's supported by AI, real-time data analysis empowers CSPs to analyse usage and customer behaviour in-the-moment, driving the contextually relevant engagements that make up an ideal customer experience in this era of instant gratification.

For example, imagine a situation in which data analysis reveals that a specific mobile customer uses Netflix more than any other app, but also that he is also dangerously close to reaching his monthly data cap. The analysis has revealed the perfect moment of opportunity to send this customer an offer for a data package that includes unlimited Netflix streaming.

Now, imagine if this entire process was automated, from AI-driven analysis to automated offer generation to immediate fulfillment and accurate billing. In this scenario, it's possible for the customer to hear about a perfectly tailored service package at his peak moment of interest - right when he's about to run out of data.

This is how customer perceptions toward CSPs start to change, when they view offers not as an annoying or unwelcome intrusion, but as a relevant and perfectly timed solution to an immediate problem.

It's already possible, especially as AI continues to creep its way into the CSP technology stack.

Win the Customer Experience Battle

If CSPs are to keep competitive with encroaching digital service providers, it's time they start viewing certain aspects of their business as assets, and not liabilities. Telcos may be the "legacy" player in the game, but that legacy includes decades of customer data, plus the resources to invest and maximize emerging technologies like AI. The opportunity is ripe for personalised customer engagement, and AI-powered data analysis can enable it.

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Published Friday, September 21, 2018 7:41 AM by David Marshall
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