When a YouTube (News - Alert) video doesn’t work or involves a lot of buffering, mobile subscribers don’t contact YouTube to complain. Rather, they think about their wireless service providers.
In fact, such scenarios are probably the few times subscribers think about their mobile service providers, says Jonathon Gordon, director of marketing at Allot (News - Alert) Communications. But, he adds, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“Service providers should like it because it puts them in a position of power,” says Gordon.
That’s because facilities-based service providers have the ability to understand what’s happening on their networks to predict congestion, for example. And that can enable facilities-based mobile operators to get ahead of the problem by alerting subscribers of the situation and offering them solutions, such as upping their subscription plans or delivering an offer from a content provider partner who might sponsor a better network experience and pay the mobile operator for that capability.
This type of thing can enable service providers to insert themselves more prominently in the mobile value chain, build new revenue, and lower help desk requests in the process, Gordon says. And, he adds, the tools necessary to make that happen area available, so all of the above is possible today.
Ulla Koivukoski, senior vice president of marketing and communications at Comptel, which is known for outfitting service providers with data collection solutions for billing, charging and fulfillment, agrees.
“Service providers need to make the most out of customer touch points and connect with customers emotionally to make money,” says Koivukoski.
At the recent Mobile World Congress (News - Alert) event in Barcelona, Comptel was showing a video of how a service provider can identify the particular interests of select groups of subscribers to provide them with specialized service bundles including LTE (News - Alert) connectivity and, potentially, content or special connectivity options to access certain content. This particular video featured a service provider identifying jazz fans by using location information to see who attended a jazz concert, tapping into those subscribers’ social network profiles to find friends with similar interests, and providing all of the above with bundled LTE service offerings.
A little more than a year ago Comptel purchased Xtract. As a result, Comptel can now provide network operators with tools to help them understand the uniqueness of individual subscribers, and then quickly act on that information to increase average revenue per subscriber, lower customer churn, or otherwise meet a specific goal.
In fact, EMEA service provider Zain already is leveraging the Comptel solution to identify likely churn candidates and provide them with special offers before they express their intentions to drop service. In the past, Zain had responded to customers who voiced their intentions to leave by presenting them with special offers, says Koivukoski, “but that’s too late.” A better approach is to proactively look for such parameters as service inactivity or lower than normal service usage and then approach such customers with special offers in an effort to avoid churn, she says, adding that Bangladeshi service provider Robi is using the Comptel solution for similar purposes.
Churn is a big issue for these operators, she says. The resulting cost involved to retain new customers is a major expenditure for carriers -- in some cases accounting for 20 percent their of sales.
“It’s a big figure,” Koivukoski says, “so most CSPs are keen at looking ways they can prevent the churn -- not just predict it, but prevent it.”
Of course, facilities-based service providers need to move beyond simply using customer and network intelligence to save money and also leverage this information to generate new revenue sources.
Dan Siemon, a product manager at Sandvine (News - Alert), which got its start providing gear for traffic management applications, says its policy control solutions are increasingly being used for service creation to drive average revenue per user. One of the success stories on this front involves Vox Telecom, a DSL provider in South Africa that wanted to give select customers a taste of what life would be like if they upgraded to a 40gbps connection. The communications service provider, whose aim was to increase subscriber revenue and differentiate itself in the marketplace, targeted gamers by partnering with retailer Look & Listen, which offered people who bought Call of Duty Black Ops a special link and code they could use to try out connectivity optimized for the gaming experience. Sandvine’s Usage Management product running on its network policy control platform enabled Vox to deliver this offer.
“They plan on rolling this out for every blockbuster game now,” says Siemon.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi