Who is the customer of a telecommunications operator?


If you work in telecommunications analytics, you've heard that you need to build a complete image of the client to provide a first-class brand experience. But who is the "customer" in the telecommunications industry? Is it a "sim" that uses our service? Or is it the identification number to which that sim is assigned? Or maybe we should look for an even higher level in this hierarchy?

Household in focus

I will risk saying that the "entity" whose well-being operators should take care of should be the decision-making center on which the purchases, changes, or resignation from telecommunications equipment and/or services depend. In the case of the B2B segment, it will most often be some kind of business activity statistical identification number. On the other hand, in the B2C segment, the household is most often such a decision-making center. This is based on market research, analyses made using data from operators and, of course, our intuition.

Within the household, decisions are made regarding telecommunications services. Not only "home" services, such as fixed-line internet and television, but also more individual ones, such as mobile services. We may often see this situation among household members when a new mobile phone is purchased from the operator, and a sim card is inserted into it that is not necessarily "assigned" to this new phone. The customer then transfers the previously used phone to another member of the household.

Methods of identifying the decision-making center members

How can we identify individual household members? The most obvious method is using "hard" links, including:

  • Personal identification number.
  • Name and surname.
  • Home address.
  • Billing address.

The matter becomes more complicated when we have prepaid services registered for another person, SOHO and private services, different addresses, and household members who don't have a convergent or group offer.

Then the analyst may come to the rescue and identify individual household members and the services they use with high accuracy (on the order of 85%-90%). What helps in identifying such "soft" connections is, among others, establishing relations between sims based on their use, location at certain times of the day, transfer of devices, mutual recharging of prepaid cards, or the management of individual services through one account in self-service channels.

Another layer that operators must consider for building a complete customer image is the identification of members of the decision-making center in the offline world (traditional sales and contact channels) and online, as well as their activity in each of these worlds. Operators are trying to shift customer relationships (service and transactions) to remote channels. To obtain a complete picture of customer activity, having data from the online world becomes crucial.

The benefits of having a complete picture of the customer

Only when we have a complete picture of the decision-making center can we determine which services it uses, which it has available and which are of interest to it. We can also determine how likely the client is to be taken over by competitors and what strategy to adopt to maximize their value for the operator.

For example, when deciding on the scope of the retention offer of a given household member, the operator should take into account the overall picture of the decision-making center, including:

  • The value of services used by the entire household.
  • Complaints made by other members of the household.
  • Historical patterns of transferring devices between its members.

Maybe it is worth making a cheaper retention offer available earlier for one of the household members to secure income from the entire group.

Another example of the benefits of having a comprehensive customer image is the ability to identify a sim card of a household member who uses competitor services (based on connection patterns between sim cards). A properly personalized acquisition offer addressed to the decision-making person should significantly increase the chances of transferring this sim card to the operator's base.

Why is using analytics worth it?

There is a lot to gain for an operator with insight into users not in the form of individual sim cards or customers with home internet and television services, but a database of decision-making centers (households for the B2C segment) and services, products and devices assigned to them. Thanks to this knowledge about their needs and the possibility of forecasting future behavior patterns, operators can adequately respond to events within their customer base. The operator's goal should be to maximize the long-term value of its customer base by increasing the value of the portfolio of services used by the customer or the customer base by reducing churn or increasing acquisition.


About Author

Artur Szymanski

Telecom Lead for CEE region at SAS

Artur Szymanski joined SAS in 2021. Artur has 20-year experience of working in the telecommunications industry in Poland as well as in the UK. Currently, he is the leader of Customer Advisory telecom practice in Central Europe and is responsible for generating value and maximizing the operational effectiveness of telcos thanks to analytics.

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