Managing carriers’ net promotor scores (NPS), where identifying potential ‘detractors’ and converting them into ‘promoters’ is the name of the game, has never been an exact science.

Ken Wieland, contributing editor

March 19, 2024

4 Min Read

Managing carriers’ net promotor scores (NPS), where identifying potential ‘detractors’ and converting them into ‘promoters’ is the name of the game, has never been an exact science. Yet, if carriers are to better compete with competitors, reduce churn and raise ARPU (average revenue per user), NPS management desperately needs to become smarter and better – both in accurately assessing how satisfied customers really are and then, proactively, quickly putting in place remedies when and where they are needed on the network.

It’s why Huawei threw the spotlight on NPS management at the latest gathering of its ‘SmartCare Elite® Club’ – a community of operators and industry experts that are laser-focused on customer experience management – during the 2024 edition of Mobile World Congress.

In his opening remarks to SmartCare® Elite Club attendees at MWC, Austin You, President of Huawei Carrier Delivery & Service Dept, flagged Huawei successes in helping operator partners in Europe and elsewhere meet their network experience and service experience requirements. “And now we are planning to conquer another mountain, which is NPS,” he said.

Underlying the urgency of improved NPS management, You cited data from GSMA Intelligence showing that the global Unique Mobile Broadband (MBB) user penetration rate reached 68% in 2022. It is projected to only reach 73% by 2030. A slothful CAGR of less than 0.9% is also expected over the next five years. In developed regions or densely populated urban areas, this percentage will be even smaller.

“The management of existing users becomes critical for further growth,” added You. “Therefore, we need to shift the focus from leading network performance and experience to leading NPS.”

Shortcomings of traditional NPS management

In discussion with senior executives from market research firm IDC and Huawei’s Global Technical Service (GTS) division at the sidelines of the SmartCare® Elite Club event, Light Reading explored further the challenges carriers are typically facing when it comes to traditional NPS management, and what solutions Huawei is developing to overcome them.

“Challenges can be loosely defined into three categories,” explained IDC’s John Byrne, Research Vice President, Communications Service Provider Operations and Monetization “The first is what operators do initially to collect the data to try to figure out how their customers are perceiving the network. There are shortcomings in that. They rely heavily on third party sources [random surveys, software tools and reports] that are typically not well suited for that kind of activity.”

While doing comparatively well in network performance surveys from third parties can be valuable from an operator’s marketing perspective, added Byrne, “they’re not fit for purpose when it comes to being able to get the granularity that you need [at a customer level] to be able to really see what's going on and [how to] remedy some of the situations when you see them.” Survey results, too, he noted are usually way out of date (up to a month).

Second, there are often organizational failings, which means data doesn’t properly get sent where it needs to go within the operator. “Human systems fall short in terms of making sure that the customer experience group understands the network experience group,” said Byrne.

The need for a technology catch-up falls into Byrne’s third category. “There’s not nearly enough technology being deployed,” he said, “to help address the new emerging set of use cases which are going to be relying on real time experience insights to drive NPS.”

From survey-driven to data-driven

Ding Chengyi, President of Network Performance & Converged Data Operations at Huawei GTS, acknowledged that improving NPS management was difficult but far from impossible.

“Fortunately, based on new technologies, it is possible for us to develop new solutions,” he said. Ding referenced, by way of example, Huawei’s spatio-temporal digital twins, which can model geographical, network, experience, and satisfaction data in different scenarios, helped by AI and big data analytics. “We can provide the link between network and the impact it has on users.”

From this modelling, asserted Ding, Huawei can identify potential detractors and find the root cause of network issues. “If we know the potential detractors, it means we also know how to manage them,” he said. “We can apply resources to resolve network issues.”

Huawei is already putting AI-driven technologies and big data analytics to work with operators in Saudi Arabia and Turkey “We’re building a bridge between customer satisfaction and network issues,” Ding continued. “We’re shifting NPS management from survey-driven to data-driven. New technologies make this possible.”

A proactive and AI approach is the best way to go in advancing NPS management, agreed Byrne. “A lot more technology and a lot less human element is needed because, increasingly, a manual process is not going to scale to address the emerging opportunities that are going to be coming down the pipe,” he said.

Operator best practice, Byrne advised, will involve “looking for opportunities to embed AI both in terms of how you ingest the data that you're collecting, improve how you're collecting that data, and then how that gets cascaded into the various departments that can benefit from that”.

The NPS end game is making sure that an individual user on a particular application is getting the appropriate experience. “If that's not happening,” said Byrne, “operators need to proactively address that. It’s a major imperative.”

About the Author(s)

Ken Wieland

contributing editor

Ken Wieland has been a telecoms journalist and editor for more than 15 years. That includes an eight-year stint as editor of Telecommunications magazine (international edition), three years as editor of Asian Communications, and nearly two years at Informa Telecoms & Media, specialising in mobile broadband. As a freelance telecoms writer Ken has written various industry reports for The Economist Group.

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