From mobile phones and landlines, to television and Internet services, the telecom industry lends itself to the Big Data boom, for each of these channels generates vast amounts of customer information. Digital channels, in particular, have increased this volume exponentially, as consumers now have mobile Internet access within reach via smartphone 24/7. But, as the available pool of data continues to grow, telecom companies are faced with the challenge of deciphering this information and bringing insight to action.
"There's tremendous value in Big Data, provided an operator knows what bits of information are the most meaningful to extract and analyze," says Carla Fitzgerald, CMO at Smith Micro. "In order to transform telecom services, improve network quality, and create new offerings, operators must pull insights from the network, the device, and from customer activity. Once analyzed, operators can use this insight to address performance or service issues from a business level, which translates to better quality of service for the end user."
Suzanne Clayton, senior product marketing manager for communications, media, and entertainment at SAS, notes that telecom Big Data initiatives usually fall into one of three categories: revenue growth, operations optimization, and network management. Because telecom carriers are the key enablers to the adoption of digitized media, with subscribers consuming more and more content via accompanying devices, providers have one of the highest "data per customer" of any industry. Thus, these initiatives now look beyond traditional means, as telecoms look to take advantage of the granular insights they've helped to generate.
Though traditional tactics are still relevant in terms of marketing, digital techniques now boost the effectiveness of said older channels by offering the ability to collect, analyze, and draw conclusions from measured data that was otherwise difficult or impossible to deduce previously.
According to Hardik Shah, service provider platforms at Citrix, there are typically three ways telecoms look to leverage subscriber data:
- Gain actionable marketing intelligence-Marketers receive the birds' eye view of data and location usage across mobile networks, gaining actionable intelligence derived from experience and CRM data. Telecoms can then take to these digital channels to launch relevant offers in real time, fostering personalized, one-to-one relationships.
- Improve customer care-Customer care representatives gain insight into how subscribers use their data, enabling them to better manage the customer experience, promote loyalty, and diminish call volume and duration, ultimately leading to reductions in operational costs. Agents can also empower subscribers to manage their own plans and usage by presenting such statistics upfront, thereby reducing care costs even further and improving customer satisfaction.
- Monetize data-Analytics tools enable operators to create new revenue streams by monetizing usage and location data, as such capabilities allow advertisers to measure the effectiveness of digital campaigns in the moment. Service providers have the opportunity to push said marketing messages multiple times in real time until the customer responds or intention changes.
Digital data allows telecoms to analyze customer behaviors at the root so they may understand how these individuals interact with their brands and how they employ their devices in order to better tailor product and service offerings accordingly. Said data also helps telecoms discover the source of any emerging issues so they may proactively resolve such problems before they impact customer experience. Overall, said information benefits both the company and the consumer, as this intelligence boosts the provider's ability to deliver the sort of service subscribers seek in today's increasingly competitive market.
Here, we explore how two telecom companies are integrating Big Data capabilities to improve internal operations in an effort to enhance overall customer experience:
TDS Telecom Examines Survey, Social Data to Improve Service
While Big Data exposes telecoms to numerous new opportunities, service providers must first determine which data points are relevant to their overarching goals. For TDS Telecom, essential data comes from the information collected via surveys and social media, as the brand aims to understand consumer behaviors and provide subscribers with the most reliable, targeted services possible.
"Telecoms, like most companies, are looking to differentiate themselves in this increasingly competitive environment," says Bob Moore, head of customer insights and market research. "A few of the main opportunities to differentiate are customer loyalty and retention, monitoring the competition, and looking for technology trends. For instance, creating customer segments based on internal customer data allows a provider to profile its their most loyal customers and create internal processes, enabling product managers, marketers, and frontline agents to serve customers based on internally tested best practices."
Because customer service has become crucial in the digital age, particularly in the case of loyalty and retention, TDS Telecom focuses upon transactional, perceptual, and marketing surveys to gather both customer and employee feedback so it may quickly and easily determine customer satisfaction as it pertains to its products and employee morale with regard to training and educational programs. Ultimately, Moore adds, telecom companies must go where the data lies. Thus, TDS Telecom has also integrated social media data to better learn where and how customers want to do business. Millennials, for instance, often take to Facebook and Twitter to ask questions and post complaints. By actively listening across mediums, TDS Telecom can determine which services deserve increased attention, which issues require immediate resolution, and which factors instigate churn.
However, Moore notes that, while good market researchers can help decipher data, telecom companies must establish the correct infrastructure, software, and database architecture to ease analytical difficulty. The entire organization must align to work collaboratively so that Big Data may be brought to action in and effort to drive innovation throughout the enterprise and strengthen subscriber relationships.
IDT Telecom Embraces Big Data to Enhance Security Initiatives
No matter the industry, customer safety and information security are top of mind for all leaders, as the Big Data boom brings with it numerous questions and concerns. Telecoms, for instance, are susceptible to fraud and theft as these companies house vast amounts of sensitive data that, if compromised, could alter brand perception and customer loyalty for good.
For IDT Telecom, Big Data places a crucial role with regard to operations and engineering, as the company constantly looks at detailed records and information across multiple areas of the organization to consolidate said data and better analyze and draw insights from what's available. IDT Telecom also finds Big Data increasingly important for safety purposes, as security teams seek to prevent theft of services and private information. Malicious intrusions and theft of data are growing security concerns within the telecom industry. Thus, by closely monitoring call quality and consumer activity, IDT Telecom can detect threats and improve experience simultaneously.
"Like any telecom company, customer satisfaction remains top priority at IDT, and the use of Big Data and analytics has helped us bring our services closer to our customer," says Golan Ben-Oni, chief security officer. "This has translated into increased call quality, lower operating costs-savings that are then passed on to the customer-and better overall user experience on both traditional and mobile applications and services."
With regard to security, IDT Telecom has created monitors and thresholds that alert internal teams and, under certain conditions, automate changes on the network infrastructure when unusual activities are detected. Said alarms also inform the company of unauthorized activity that may be taking place on customer networks so employees can enact proactive, protective measures in near real time. Analyzing information collected also enables IDT Telecom to understand how it can better serve customers within specific world regions, as different areas require different services. By focusing on protecting consumer safety and best interests, IDT Telecom operates with intelligence and integrity.