Like retailers, Communications Service Providers (CSPs) interact with customers in multiple ways during the buy, use and share journey. These interactions take place at stores and on websites, Facebook pages, call centers, and other channels. However, unlike retailers, CSPs are having a harder time providing a seamless experience across their many channels. For example, have you ever been on a CSP's website then contacted the a call center only to get a completely different offer or message?
Customer satisfaction rankings like net promoter scores for internet, cable and satellite services companies are lower than in any other industry. Clearly, CSPs are missing the opportunity to connect with customers as they interact with their brand at various touch points.
The majority of my customer meetings with global communications service providers (CSPs) this year were spent exploring the customer journey and how to provide an omnichannel experience. In addition, most CSP leaders wanted to discuss how they could have more visibility into the customer’s experience with their network. It's become increasingly urgent for CSPs to study attribution paths and understand the customer journey in its different stages like buying, using and sharing (as documented by TM Forum in their recent "Customer Experience and Analytics in a Digital World" report).
Several of these CSPs started with research and surveys into what mattered to their customers and what motivates their customers to buy from them. Is it having the fastest network speeds and quality of service? Is it feeling like they're part of a bigger community? Is it the Facebook experience? Or the ability to connect the retail store experience to the provider’s website where the purchase was ultimately made? Some CSPs used the surveys to analyze customer motivation, but they also used predictive analytics to validate their hypothesis and mine the big volumes of textual data.
One thing that's clear, both from research results and from my conversations with CSPs, is that digital has changed the game. CSPs are tired of the eroding revenue from SMS and cable services and are looking to reinvent themselves once again. Digital provides the means for CSPs to develop new revenue streams, particularly from over-the-top media (OTT) and Internet of Things services. This year, senior executives of leading CSPs have announced strategies to exploit these new opportunities, either through new partnerships or an outright buy of a company that will fast track their goals, e.g. Verizon buying AOL to foster an ad revenue stream from OTT media and AT&T’s focus on connected car and home services businesses. But even CSPs with less revenue on the line are getting into the game.
So, what's the common theme? Modernization of both IT and marketing is key. If you're going to play in the digital arena and want to leverage all the new digital data from content consumption, social activity, website data, etc., you must have a scalable, agile and reliable big data infrastructure that includes:
- Tools for loading, accessing and exploiting data in Hadoop.
- In-memory analytics and statistics for rapid data exploration.
With these three components you can democratize analytics in your organization. Digitally-focused CSPs must develop and empower the citizen data scientist (a term coined by Gartner earlier this year) to quickly turn around analytic insights.
While true data scientists are available for deep analytic processing, the citizen data scientist comes at a cheaper price and can be more broadly deployed throughout an organization so that finance, marketing and network operations can all join in the analytics journey.
Citizen data scientists will be able to bring quicker insights to action since they'll sit amongst the business decision makers, and will be able to explore and better orchestrate the customer journey, help network operations perform preventative service assurance and capacity planning -- and grow new digital revenue streams.
To learn more about in-memory analytics check out this SAS webinar: Demystifying In-Memory Analytics.