For anyone who tracks the mobile services market, what stands out at the moment is that the ability to create differentiated value is becoming harder and harder. Around the world, services are looking almost identical (with the exception of places where LTE deployment has become a battleground), pricing has become similar, and operators are struggling to generate profits and increase customer loyalty as expenses increase and ARPU decreases.
In light of all of this, what has become readily apparent is that establishing sustainable competitive advantage will be based on the creation of unique identities in the market. It is also clear that the foundation for doing so will be on the implementation of a comprehensive customer experience management (CEM) strategy.
The problem is that recognition of a problem does not necessarily translate into action. As a means of getting a handle on where the operators are versus where they should/need to be, Krakow, Poland-based Comarch, a provider of flexible IT solutions for telecoms, has released the results of a survey, published by research firm Informa’s Telecom.com Intelligence team, entitled Mobile Operators’ CEM Strategies: The Market Reality.
The objective of the survey, as revealed in the title, was to chart the gap between mobile operators’ aspirations when it comes to CEM versus realities. The survey of 50 executives from European mobile operators is definitely worth a thorough read. One reason is the top level finding that, as the authors note, “It became clear that, if CEM really is to become a central point of differentiation for mobile operators, there is a great deal of work to be done.”
Mind the gap and close it
Specific key findings from the survey commissioned by Comarch include:
“In order to provide seamless customer experience, operators need to gather and analyze as much information on their customers as possible, and then translate it into visible actions that can directly influence the satisfaction of their clients,” says Piotr Machnik, VP of product management and marketing at Comarch.
“Data such as billing, service/call usage, customer behaviour and profile are no longer enough to understand what level of customer experience is being delivered to each subscriber, and how to improve it. Today it is clear that without the help of information from network management systems the picture is far from being full,” Machnik added.
One of the more interesting things to fall out of the survey results was how often the ‘I don’t know’ response was selected. As the authors point out, the survey uncovered some fundamental gaps in awareness: 7.1 percent of respondents did not know how to categorize their company’s involvement in CEM, 10.3 percent of respondents did not know which C-level executive has ultimate responsibility for CEM in their organization, and 11.1 percent of respondents did not know whether their company had an end-to-end CEM strategy in place. It also highlighted the challenges operators face internally for getting from where they are to where they need to be, which ranged from project ownership to information sharing and back end issues.
An illustration of this can be seen in the following charts from the report.
Source: Comarch/Telecoms.com Intelligence Report, Mobile Operators’ CEM Strategies: The Market Reality.
In short, the path to having a coordinated focus at the moment seems to be hindered by issues regarding responsibility and accountability.
It is also useful to look at what the researchers found were the areas companies are currently measuring as part of their CEM activities.
As the chart illustrates, for any company looking to improve the customer experience, there is a lot more to measure than just mean-time to resolution. It is going to require new tools, increased automation to generate actionable insights and cultural changes.
One way to look at the findings is that awareness of the importance of CEM as a competitive differentiator is high, and investments are being made. That said, as the authors noted, there is a long way to go, and mobile operators need to address the gaps and close them with a sense of urgency.
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