This article originally appeared in the November 2012 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.
INTERNET TELEPHONY talks with Jordan Socran, vice president of business development-North America at Radialpoint (News - Alert) about enhancing the customer experience in the world of broadband access and beyond.
How and when was your company established?
Socran: The company was originally founded in 1997 as Zero-Knowledge Systems Inc., a provider of managed Internet services to many of the world’s largest broadband providers. In 2005, its name changed to Radialpoint to accurately reflect its unique vision for managing and delivering Internet services. Today, Radialpoint exclusively focuses on delivering premium support technology that allows large consumer technology brands to monetize the connected home. Company founders are Hammie Hill, along with his sons Austin Hill and Hamnett Hill, president and CEO at Radialpoint.
What does your company sell to whom today?
Socran: Radialpoint is a white-label premium technology support solutions company that allows the world’s leading OEMs, CE retailers, carriers, independent software vendors and wireless providers to realize their share of the growing revenue potential driven by consumer technology support needs in the connected digital home. Radialpoint enables remotely-delivered out of scope premium support programs and helps to provide a greater level of customer support by addressing specific needs within each industry:
More often than not, service providers and specifically telecom carriers are tasked with servicing customers on devices that are out of scope, because they are connected to the service provider’s core access services. While they could easily take a not my problem approach, customer experience is a critical component of the service provider industry, often the greatest competitive differentiator. For example, if your Linksys wireless router is failing, you don’t call Linksys, you call your Internet provider.
Often, consumer electronics retailers provide a one-and-done customer service that doesn’t go far beyond the purchase transaction. As the volume of connected devices increases, however, it’s important to help consumers maximize the benefits of these products. This is an opportunity for the retailer to deepen these consumer relationships to foster potential future purchases. Retailers can benefit from offering premium technology support to their customers to ensure that devices continue working properly and ultimately encourage repeat customers.
Much like retailers, OEMs see the value in premium technology support that service customers beyond the point of purchase. For example, think of Apple (News - Alert) loyalists. Part of their loyalty comes from the Apple customer experience. Apple provides the Genius bar and exceptional device support. In return, customers are loyal and tend to own multiple Apple devices. According to a study by NPD Group, nine out of every 10 Apple owners are somewhat or much more likely to make another Apple purchase following their tech support experience.
With more and more manufacturers offering multiple products, and more customers owning multiple connected devices, OEMs need to support customers across their devices to increase loyalty and influence purchase behavior.
Across all three markets, Radialpoint’s technology-based offering generates revenue and deepens customer relationships by simplifying technology and solving end user frustrations. Radialpoint brings a turnkey solution to market that enables these large technology brands to deliver end-to-end, premium technology support programs. Some of the world’s most successful premium technology support programs offered by OEMs, retailers, and wireless providers are powered by Radialpoint, generating nearly $1 billion in revenues to date and growing. Customers include, Virgin Media (News - Alert), Rogers, Windstream, and a leading multinational OEM.
There’s a lot of talk in the customer experience arena today about analytics and big data. Radialpoint says integration is a key aspect to that. Of course, the need to integrate data from multiple sources and then analyze it to make the best use of it is well understood in the industry, I think. However, just how to do that and to do it cost effectively is the challenge. How does Radialpoint address that?
Socran: Valuable data is available within every organization. But, companies need to know how to take full advantage of it to truly offer a rich customer support experience. By integrating all of this information (subscription billing, remote service management, customer lifecycle management, etc.), it eliminates steps for impatient customers and ultimately results in a positive and cost-effective experience, by dramatically reducing call times.
Radialpoint helps to solve problems and deliver customer resolutions by gathering analytics from interactions throughout the different phases of the customer lifecycle. For example, when a customer calls customer support regarding an issue, Radialpoint can recognize that this is a reoccurring problem and easily resolve it, which ultimately gives time back to the customer. This is intelligent routing based on the customer’s profile, providing automated problem resolution so the customer doesn’t have to wait around while being serviced. Ultimately, this benefits both the consumer – who is able to experience a quick resolution call – and Radialpoint’s client, who is able to answer calls in less time and better utilize their staff.
By leveraging big data, and solutions like Radialpoint, companies are gaining a more holistic view of their customers, to enhance the customer experience and provide a more efficient use of both costs and time. With data, companies can gain a better understanding of customer interactions and provide an improved customer experience. Also, access to data allows service agents to look for cross-sell and up-sell opportunities that meet that customer’s specific technology and connected home needs, while also helping to generate new revenue streams. For example, if a customer keeps calling [his or her] PC OEM about a laptop issue and data shows this laptop was purchased five years ago and running on an outdated OS system, it could be a good time to tell the consumer about a deal on laptops.
Are there different schools of thought on data analytics?
Socran: I believe there are. Making sense of big data is a combination of organizations having the tools, skills and more importantly, the mindset to see the opportunities with the effective use of vast amounts of data. Traditional business intelligence tools and concepts are often limited to the analysis of structured data, mostly internal or transactional, and often restricting the amount and type of analysis that can be performed. With big data analytics, businesses are able to analyze the transaction and interaction of their customers and recognize the importance of the entire customer engagement cycle.
According to IBM, 90 percent of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone; the data comes from everywhere, from transactions, internal databases to social media sites, pictures and videos. Businesses are now evolving their thinking and approach around data analytics to recognize that big data and analytics is not only about the volume but also about the opportunity to find key insights from leveraging different data types to make their business more agile.
What organizations are the pioneers in leveraging big data and analytics today? How specifically are they using that data to their advantage?
Socran: Retailers are using big data and analytics today to drive costs out of their business and revenue into their business. They are massive consumers of data; retailers use data to analyze the in-store and online traffic, consumers’ shopping cart, reviews and the most sophisticated retailers look at both their overall transaction and interaction with the business. I see the pioneers being Amazon and other similar companies who have let software-led resources increase sales. For example, when a customer buys an LED television, that customer might need a TV cleaner to go along with it, so Amazon (and like companies) can provide recommendations. There is no human involved in that interaction, which means no labor costs, yet the customer just increased the purchase by an average of $6 to $10.
Of course, the retail industry is finding significant ways to leverage big data, but the advertising industry, dominated by Google (News - Alert), is probably one of the biggest consumers of data and using it to generate revenue.
What other ways can organizations leverage big data and analytics to save money, drive revenues, and/or win customers?
Socran: Big data and analytics methods are valuable tools to be leveraged throughout many departments of an organization. Marketers and engineers are just a few within an organization that derive value from leveraging big data and analytics to be more effective.
For example, if product engineers for a PC OEM can understand a specific customer pain-point and affiliated data that is captured within the Radialpoint system, they may be able to come up with a solution in the next version of the product.
For marketers, they can access the Radialpoint system to determine which upsell and cross-sell ideas are resonating with customers and develop promotions on the products and services that will drive the bottom line. By capturing technical support data and sharing it within the organization, OEMs, retailers and carriers can become more strategic and get-ahead of their customer’s needs.
Google Big Query and Amazon Web Services (News - Alert) are major competing solutions offered to businesses of all sizes that require data and analytics. Both companies are charging businesses for the service but without the need for investments of additional hardware or software,
What’s next for big data and analytics?
Socran: Big data is going to leave its imprint on organizations in a big way, and I predict that the premium technical support experience will continue to improve as the capture and use of data continues to evolve.
At the end of the day, maintaining customer relationships can make or break a business. Being able to apply big data tools and analytics to technical support and then across the organization, will be a great differentiator. The organizations that will win are those that improve customer satisfaction and build loyalty by providing a deeper understanding of the customer experience.
Edited by Brooke Neuman