Stiff competition between telecom companies has given rise to a multi-SIM market.  To add to this, consumers are flooded with alternatives means of communication and are exposed to a variety of services and offers.   To add to all this, the VOIP calling service have been eating into international calling revenues, messenger clients have reduced P2P SMS revenues significantly, leaving  telecom companies and communication service providers (CSP’s) under tremendous pressure to re-engage with customers.

Traditional engagement models of setting up a call centre, allowing consumers to manage their account by setting up a well designed website and sending out segmented offers over SMS, emails and OBDs are absolutely not enough.

Consumers expect much more – they want to know the best offer for their usage pattern. If their current communication service provider does not let them know and offer them one, they will switch to another who would. To continue to enjoy a customer’s patronage, an operator will have to offer what the consumer wants.

How one engages with the consumer is critical.  The segment and blast model is not working.  Waiting for the consumer to contact the call centre is not a good idea either.  Marketing professionals are looking for opportunities to engage with consumers – not just communicate.  The main difference between engagement and segmented communication would be understanding the consumer’s context and offering an interactive medium to fulfil the offer instantaneously.    The context of the consumer changes every moment.  Looking at transactional data along with context would help identify what would be the right offer for a person.  For example – a roaming customer gets an offer as soon as he lands in another country.  If the history suggest that consumer transits from a particular country every month , it would be appropriate to give a offer in final destination country , rather than transit country.  Understanding the context is very critical – and this can be derived from past usage transactions.

The second important point of engagement is using every opportunity to interact with the consumer.  Every interaction should be recorded for future use – what offer was made, did the consumer like the offer, did the consumer take/reject the offer.  Does the consumer want similar offer to be made at later point of time or wants to be left alone are important indicators.  Offers on post call notification, balance enquire, website, bills, etc are important.  Improving the user’s experience of these tools can enhance consumer lifetime value significantly. Another important tool that the communication service provider or telecom operator can use is an operator branded application that can be made available on consumer devices.  The application should be able to offer full capability to manage the account, discover services, subscribe/unsubscribe to services, calibrate usage and offer right plan for the consumer, avoid bill shock by setting up thresholds and alert users on cross thresholds. Having an engaging loyalty management system can also be used to reduce churn and improve CLV.  We have already seen some operators using these tools effectively and improving the ARPU by 5-7 per cent.

Having understood the importance of context and tools to improve engagement, we need to find an answer to the all important question of “How do you use analytics to know what the consumers want?” There are several tools available in the market that claim to have data analytics capabilities.  However one has to be careful in choosing the right tools and identifying the partner with whom you can work in getting right results. This is critical because there is no one solution that fits all.  The data has to be carefully studied, right parameters identified and right model constructed to get desired outcome.  These assumptions, behaviours may change from time to time, which means you need to revalidate/reconstruct the model from time to time.  You need to work with right tools and partners.  Some vendors sell the tools, expect that you build the model and get right outcomes, while some vendors are SI’s who offer services using third party tools.  One has to find right partner who understands communication service provider or telecom operator sage and retention and can offer the right tools, ready to use prediction models and provide best in the industry processes to deliver desired outcomes.

Person who bought “A-service” also has bought “B-service”– is not the only use case for use of analytics, In fact, I would say, if the communication service provider or telecom company want to use analytics – this should be the last use case.   In a highly competitive (multi SIM) environment, having a solution that would let the communication service provider, engage with the consumer as soon as one registers on to the network and offer a relevant plan resulting in retaining the consumer.  Communication service providers and telecom companies are seeing huge churn rates, understanding possible churn candidate before user decides would give an opportunity to do something to save the candidate from churning.   If the consumer has just dropped off an off net call due to reduction in balance, can you offer a loan – the amount can be based on the user’s credit rating – allowing consumer to continue to use the service – while ensuring that operating company does not see mounting defaults.

The declining subscriber-led growth has made it imperative for communication service providers and telecom operators to look inwards towards their consumers, understand their needs and offer them the best user experience.  The transaction data that communication service providers and telecom companies have will become the biggest asset that will help them in getting increasing wallet share.  Many telecom companies have tried using the tools from various vendors, some have succeeded, some are have seen marginal results.  Time is right for every communication service provider or telecom company to take control of the situation, look for right solutions, right partners and ride the analytics based growth wave.

Pawan S. Kulkarni

Pawan S. Kulkarni

Pawan S Kulkarni, Chief Operating Officer - Customer Operations at Mahindra Comviva. CVS is a business focussed on enhancing Customer Lifetime Value and offers solutions for Customer Lifecycle Management in the telecom space. Pawan...