The Mobile Battleground: Who's Going to Win the Customer Relationship?

By TMCnet Special Guest
Lara Albert, Senior Director of Global Marketing with Globys
  |  September 01, 2010

BlackBerry, Facebook, Skype, Bing, Pandora (News - Alert) – how many mobile providers do you interact with on a daily basis? The explosion of mobile services has presented new and more convenient ways to communicate, transact, and even be entertained, arguably transforming how we go about our everyday lives. But has anyone noticed there’s one provider that seems to be excluded in people’s everyday conversations about the latest and greatest mobile offerings? It’s the carriers.

We all talk about our iPhones, BlackBerrys, and apps we’ve just discovered, but how often do we share an amazing user experience based on a service our carrier has provided?

The proliferation of data services poses several challenges to mobile carriers. Increased data traffic is straining network bandwidth. Fast never seems fast enough for rolling out the new technology. And infrastructure upgrades are burdening to finances and resources. Addressing these challenges alone may allow carriers to compete amidst this shift in the mobile ecosystem, but to prevail as a winner, they need to not only overhaul their systems and technologies but also place more focus on strengthening relationships with their customers.

In a recent Yankee Group (News - Alert) report titled “Surviving the Mobile Data Revenue Roller Coaster,” analyst Sheryl Kingstone stresses the need for mobile network operators to leverage the unique wealth of data they have. That data can help them, and their content partners, understand subscribers’ needs, interests and behaviors to avoid becoming simple dumb pipe providers. As she explains: “In order for MNOs to grow revenue and provide a differentiated customer experience, they must have visibility into the subscriber experience and behavior on everything in the service delivery chain, from the handset, to the mobile service, to the applications. Only then can they proactively identify new revenue opportunities and improve customer experience.”

So, how can operators turn the vast amount of data they have into monetizable intelligence? First, they need to shift their mindsets from that of service providers to that of sophisticated marketers – focusing more on their customers’ ever-changing needs. As Kingstone outlines in her report, some MNOs have built data warehouses to converge customer and network data to enhance the customer experience, but this doesn’t solve the problem. Operators must be able to act on this data in real-time, based on the context of a customer’s specific needs.

By combining rich behavioral and profile data with contextual marketing capabilities to target the right person with the right offer in the right context, operators can improve the customer experience through enhanced relevancy and value. A commuter is exposed to a real-time bus tracking app just before leaving the office to head home from work. A father is notified of a better data plan to accommodate his daughter’s new found love for text messaging in advance of anticipated bill shock. A college student receives an offer for mobile Skype (News - Alert) to stay in touch with family members. A mother receives an offer for a free month of unlimited texting with a link to a how to text your teenager promo page. By providing contextually- relevant offers and communications, a customer’s loyalty goes beyond just depending on reliable service to actually appreciating the operator’s recommendations that align with real needs.

The promise of data revenue to offset the decline in voice is enticing, but in their attempts to meet customer demand, operators must ensure that they manage openness in a way that doesn’t cause them to lose a direct connection with the customer. The wealth of data that lies within their networks and the ability to turn that data into actionable insight to make contextually relevant recommendations is key to operators’ success in the mobile space. NGN

Lara Albert is senior director of global marketing with Globys (, a provider of contextual marketing solutions for the worldwide telecommunications market.

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