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How Communications Service Providers Serve Up IPTV

By Eran Wagner, Amdocs


Since Burger King launched its famous Have it Your Way campaign in the 1970s, companies of all shapes and sizes have claimed the same idea target the right customers with the right products at the right time. Today, wireline communications service providers (CSPs) facing stiff competition from cable operators, are focusing on the triple-play. However, simply delivering these services is not enough. CSPs must seamlessly integrate IPTV and offer consumers what they want a fully integrated bundle of services tailored to meet their specific needs. To successfully deliver the triple-play, CSPs must adopt an integrated customer management approach with the ultimate goal of creating an intentional customer experience that forges stronger, more profitable customer relationships.

The Race For The Triple Play
In response to growing competitive pressures, many CSPs have deployed bundling strategies. The hope is that by bundling services together, consumers will perceive greater value resulting in decreased churn and increased customer lifetime value. But despite their efforts, CSPs are finding themselves behind in the race for the triple-play. The large cable operators in North America are already delivering the triple-play with bundled cable telephony, broadband over cable, and cable video services. In order to counter this triple-threat, CSPs must differentiate their offerings. Traditionally, the telecom bundle included fixed voice, wireless, and broadband services. Recognizing the gap, many CSPs have added satellite delivered video services to their bundles. In most cases, however, satellite video only offers a service that is equal to cable and fails to differentiate the telecom bundle. As a result, many CSPs are now looking to IPTV to evolve their bundle and deliver a more compelling offering that will t ake them beyond the triple-play into a quadruple or multi-play environment. The CSPs who will win this race are those that are prepared to take advantage of the opportunities created by their IPTV and IP convergence strategies. These include opportunities such as fixed-mobile convergence where a mobile call can be continued from a subscribers mobile phone to the fixed line in the home office, and feature interaction between networks including the ability to display an IPTV EPG on a mobile phone and set recording times for TV programs using the same mobile device.

Will Adding IPTV To The Telecom Bundle be Enough?
Despite the promise of more innovative and personalized video services, the nagging question is whether or not simply adding IPTV to the telecom bundle will be enough to gain competitive advantage and satisfy the growing expectations of consumers. To answer this question, we must look at bundling from the customers perspective.

Although bundled services are perceived to deliver greater value, the majority of customers have less than optimal bundling experiences. For example, a leading North American CSP offered a highly attractive service bundle that included fixed voice, wireless, satellite TV, and high-speed internet with a common monthly bill. An independent sampling of this service found that for one customer it took a total of three weeks to switch from his existing service to this bundle. During this three-week period, the customer had over 21 interactions with the CSP including four technician visits, more than six hours on the phone with CSRs and seven different welcome letters! The problem the CSP operated along line-of-business silos in which the organization structures, business processes, and front and back office systems were all network centric and operated in isolation of one another. As a result, each line of business interacted separately with the customer to configure provision and support its service without

insight or regard to the other services in the bundle or the customers behaviors and preferences. This fragmented approach meant that the CSP had no insight into their customers and any customer experience was merely a by-product of the CSPs operating activity. From the customers perspective, even though they were actually only dealing with one CSP, their perception was that they were dealing with at least four different companies. Needless to say, any perceived value of the bundle was negated by a customer experience that was inefficient, impersonal, and extremely frustrating!

It is not enough to simply be able to put all services on one bill or even to achieve rapid time-to-market for new IP services like IPTV within an existing bundle. For a bundling strategy to work and successfully deliver a multi-play, a CSP must be able to create the intentional customer experience. This means that the customer experience becomes the driver of all operations and business decisions. Creating an intentional customer experience requires a fundamentally different business approach an integrated customer management approach. This is a way of doing business in which all corporate resources are agile and aligned to deliver an intentional customer experience. To achieve an integrated customer management approach implies a move away from the stovepiped, legacy systems, organizational structures, and business processes that characterize most CSPs. This old model of network centricity applied to the new needs of convergence means that the customer experience across services, functional departmen ts and interaction channels is a by-product of, rather than the focus of, the business. In order to achieve integrated customer management, CSPs must place the customer at the center of their businesses.

Unlocking The Potential Of IP
By adopting an integrated customer management approach, a CSPs resources are aligned around the customer, providing visibility across all services supported by the IP platform and insight into how and when customers use their services as well as their personal preferences. This creates unlimited opportunities to leverage the customer experience to maximize value for both the CSP and the customer, particularly in the areas of personalization, self care, and content management.

Subscribers place a premium on personalized content that is tailored to their specific needs and preferences. Having a complete view of a customer across all services and devices allows for a much greater level of personalization and the ability to create a differentiated and intentional user experience. For example, providing a sports fan the ability to access real-time updates of his favorite football players while watching a match on TV, and viewing everything on the same screen. Or a customer watching a cooking program receives on-screen links to Web pages featuring related content and program scheduling notices. How a customer pays for services and goods purchased through their IPTV service can also be personalized. For example, providing a customer with an advice of charge for a transaction that reflects any bundling or promotional offers that apply specifically to that individual and the services he subscribes to. Likewise, a CSP can also provide multiple options for customers to pay for goods and services that meet their individual preferences; this includes the options to charge a transaction to their credit card or monthly bill using their TV remote control.

By adopting an integrated customer management approach, a CSP is also able to leverage the full benefits of self care as a strategic interaction channel. With an integrated customer management approach the CSP is able to provide a single, personalized user interface that can be replicated across multiple devices, interaction channels and applications. Such robust self care functionality is critical to the success of the multi-play strategy where the expectation of the customer will be to have anytime, anywhere access. For example, a customer who subscribes to an IPTV bundle will expect to be able to use the self-care functionality of his mobile phone to order a pay per view TV program and set the program to be recorded while he is at work so that he can view it at a later time that is more convenient for him. When using his mobile phone to order this service he wants to be able to access all of his account and IPTV service information and have complete visibility of the order process and receive confirmat ion that the order was successfully placed and billed correctly. This customer will expect his user interface, profile, and experience to be exactly the same regardless if he placed the order through his TV, PC, or mobile phone. Similarly, he expects that if he had a problem with the order or the billing of the program, when he contacts customer service the CSR would have complete visibility of his profile and provide consistent support across all touch points. Providing customers with the ability to self manage all aspects of their accounts, not only empowers the customer but also helps the CSP to significantly lower support and call center costs.

In the multi-play environment customers also want an unlimited choice of content. As a result, CSPs must take on the role of a retail content and entertainment super store where customers can browse, discover, and buy any content service they chose on demand. This requires CSPs to rapidly roll-out new content and services (much of it from third parties) at a dramatically lower cost than they can today. To do so, involves automating the complex tasks of delivering content services and managing complex business models with any number of partners. To proactively deliver high-value content and a differentiated customer experience, also requires understanding what content consumers are using, how, and when. Such insight can only be achieved through an integrated customer management approach.

To remain competitive and meet growing consumer expectations, CSPs must be able to support the multi-play. But as we have already seen in the market, it is not enough to just rapidly bundle IPTV and other digital content services together and present a common bill. To achieve market leadership, requires CSPs to undergo a significant business transformation from legacy voice platforms and network focused business models to an agile, customer-centric business model that facilitates a supermarket of digital, multi-media services and an intentional customer experience at all touch points true integrated customer management. Only by taking this new approach to their business, can CSPs ensure their customers can have it their way! IT

Eran Wagner is vice president, IPTV at Amdocs. For more information, please visit the company online at

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