To improve customer experience you need smart data

Written by on January 20, 2016 in Opinion with 0 Comments

customer

The customer experience is becoming the focal point for everything digital. Everyone has an increasingly difficult benchmark to achieve just to stay in the game.

In payments, where new banks and new apps are being launched with alarming frequency, the focus is completely on the experience. In retail, too, innovation in the experience and delivery (part of that experience) is an everyday occurrence. In a couple of short years, retailers have gone from trying to block shoppers comparing prices while in-store, to actively promoting their online deals, while in-store.

For everyone, the challenge is to make the last experience as good as the masters – Amazon, Google and Apple.

The world is blurring and the best companies will be judged on customer experience.

How, then, do telcos (and indeed ‘legacy’ banks) hope to catch up and regain their place in customers’ affections?

The good news, for telcos at least, is that customers basically trust them. And trust is an asset that needs to be – carefully – leveraged.

The way, according to a discussion paper from real-time specialist Openet, is by converting big data into ‘smart’ data. While this may sound like turning lead into gold, or a bit of a stretch by the marketing team, the paper presents some very practical examples of how to do it.

Telcos must, says Openet, get beyond using just historical data. The world, as we have discussed, is no longer a static, post paid, well-ordered place.

There are, of course, many different sources of data on which telcos can draw. Location data, network data, as well as usage patterns, handset ownership and value of customer can all be tapped into.

300x300-download-bdpe-image4This data alone is not smart. It takes common sense, some clever data scientists and the integration of data sources to make it so. Once data is accessible (almost 90 percent of it is unused or thrown away) then the examples not only make sense, but are suddenly within pretty easy reach.

Combining usage patterns with current network conditions and location will forewarn and therefore forearm customer service teams. Understanding quickly that a high value customer is having difficulties in accessing a service can be acted on. This one example can be easily extended to self-service, where constant improvement will pay dividends and monitoring social media will alert managers of problems in a timely manner.

The key to success is actually in applying common sense. Being too proactive can backfire and become ‘spooky’ marketing. While it might be acceptable to contact a customer who has dropped a transaction at the check out (this can bring discounts and offers from the company) it is not acceptable to answer a call by saying ‘ah, yes, we were watching you have problems at the check out.’

Another challenge will be how far various regulators take data privacy legislation. If the new pan-European privacy laws are as strict as some say, then a lot of useful data will be lost to telcos – and others. That said, the Regulator in Europe at least is in favour of using data for a better personalised service.

Let us hope that this flows through to a legal framework.

There are certainly hurdles to providing the level of support for a world class customer experience that is needed for telcos to remain in the game. But turning big data into ‘smart’ data is a huge step in the right direction.

The discussion paper is free and available to download here.

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .

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