Customer Loyalty and Retention in Telecom

“To me it looks like there are only three companies within the B2C Telecoms and IT market who provide a truly satisfactory customer experience: Amazon, Netflix and Uber”, was one of the attention catching statements during a presentation from DU, an operator from the Middle East.
The key question that different CSPs and Telecoms suppliers from all over EMEA discussed during the “4th Annual Enhancing Customer Loyalty and Retention in Telecom” in Barcelona, 18-20 Nov 2014, was: Being a CSP, what makes my residential and my enterprise customers stay with me? Increasing market share and obtaining new customers is one thing but the focus during this conference was on the next step: What do these customers need to feel positive about their service provider and become loyal clients, and ideally spread the word within their peers or through social media?
All participants agreed upon the fact that we are not there yet! Things have improved a lot, for instance several CSPs such as Vimpelcom, Telenor or Etisalat, just to list a few, have introduced the so-called Net Promoters Score (NPS). It’s a tool to measure for each employee, from the front line customer support at Call Centers up to the CxO, the ability to “promote” the operators’ products and services from the customers’ viewpoint who gives the “score”.
“What do our customers mainly complain about, and what expectations do they have that are not fulfilled?” brought another list of issues to light. Three priorities came out of this discussion: simplicity, communication at the right moment through the right channel (this is still a big issue!), positive surprises. Ooredoo, an operator headquartered in Qatar, and STC from Saudi Arabia, confirmed in their presentations that big cultural changes are necessary inside an operator’s organization to face these challenges, such as becoming a lot more agile, being more open to take risks, and to empower employees much more at all levels.
Churn Prediction, where Optare Solutions comes into the game, was another vivid discussion because predicting the future is a topic that always provokes a wide range of opinions.
Bringing the methods for predictive statistics together with the business models of CSPs’ is the big challenge when we try to predict Customer Behaviours. From Optare Solutions, we participate in an innovative R&D project together with two Spanish operators, the University of Vigo and other research teams and presented our latest results at the conference.
Three main factors helped us to reduce the error of false predictions significantly. Firstly, Data Cleansing; We found out that a key for reliable predictions is ‘clean’ input data. A deep knowledge of the data structure of CSPs allows us to separate meaningful parameters from data pollution. Only by developing efficient filters, the probability of a predicted churner to be a real churner increased by more than 50%. Secondly, Mathematical Modeling; here statistic mechanisms constantly reiterate and improve the mathematical modeling based on the cleaned input data. And thirdly, Comprehensive Output Data; Sometimes it makes sense to slightly trade in statistical accuracy in order to improve the visibility the profiles of churners. Again, an efficient consultancy consists of helping our customers to find the right way in between.

Optare Presentation
Alberto Moraña during QoE Solution presentation

Very positive feedback earned our new solution for “Quality of Experience” metering. Thanks to this tool CSPs’ are able to measure their subscribers’ perceptions truly end2end and it can either be installed as a standalone application on any device (for the final clients of even for field agents), or could be integrated directly into their Customer Care Applications to capture parameters representing the end-users satisfaction and ways to improve it with only one click. The measured parameters are also very useful new input data to our predictive analytics.

“So what is it that Amazon, Netflix and Uber are providing that telco operators don’t?” I asked the participants from DU after their presentation and they gave an interesting answer: “In a nutshell, these companies provide their customers with a ‘buying experience’ whereas our customers always feel like we want to ‘sell’ them something!” What a great summary of what telecoms’ operators shall aim on to increase customer loyalty and retention.