SPIT Week Focus: Customer Experience Management

Ensuring the best customer experience is becoming critical to service providers in mature markets, but how can they achieve it?

March 5, 2010

4 Min Read
SPIT Week Focus: Customer Experience Management

Customer experience management (CEM) is fast becoming one of the most talked about topics in service provider management and operations circles, as operators look for ways to differentiate themselves in mature markets where defending, rather than building, subscriber bases is a key objective.

But what is CEM? Can you buy it on the high street in a neat, off-the-shelf package?

Unfortunately it's not that simple, as Heavy Reading analyst Caroline Chappell explains in her latest Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT)-related Heavy Reading Services Software Insider report, "Beyond CRM: Customer Experience Management." (See The SPIT Manifesto.)

The key, she notes, is to "join up existing sources of customer experience data with analytical tools" to support the customer experience of the service provider, and not just the service. If you think that sounds tricky, then you're right. "No one is set to accomplish this today, which will create some intriguing and even perplexing scenarios in the months ahead," notes Chappell. (See The Buzz About CEM.)

What's clear, then, is that CEM is not just another term for customer relationship management (CRM). The CEM approach involves collecting data from a number of different systems and then interpreting that data and feeding it back into customer, services, and network management processes quickly. That process requires the use of operational intelligence analytics tools that Chappell calls customer intelligence (CI) systems.

And for those service providers that can find the right combination of technology and processes, the benefits should be significant. "The operator that intelligently manages its customers' experiences can better anticipate their requirements, improve its responsiveness, provide a more personalized level of service, and reap the benefits in terms of lower operational costs, increased customer loyalty, and higher profitability," writes Chappell.

And it seems clear that customers would relish a better overall experience from their service providers. A recent study of 4,000 European telecoms subscribers commissioned by customer service software vendor eGain Communications Corp. found that "commitments to improving customer service levels are more important than offering extra product incentives." (See Survey: Euro Users Rate Customer Experience.)

While CEM is not a new concept -- it was a key topic at the Management World event in Nice last year, for example -- Chappell believes it's set to create a lot of buzz in 2010. (See OSS Firms: Are You Experienced?)

And the vendor community is responding to that. Nokia Networks , for example, recently unveiled its Insight & Experience Framework, IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) is giving CEM some serious airtime, and the likes of Convergys Corp. (NYSE: CVG) and Redknee Inc. (Toronto TSX: RKN) have teamed up with Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) to develop enhanced CEM solutions. (See SPIT Week Spotlight: Nokia Siemens Networks, MWC 2010 Photos: Nokia Siemens Booth Tour, SPIT Sector Outlook: IBM's Cloudy View, Convergys, Microsoft Team Up, and Redknee Teams With Microsoft.)

Tektronix Inc. , though, was the company that made the first big splash in the CEM space with its acquisition in April 2009 of CEM specialist Arantech , which had built some customer-centric business metric capabilities from scratch. (See OSS News: Tektronix Strikes Again!.)

Now, though, Arantech, which Chappell notes is "notable for pioneering the CI system that can carry out cross-domain (OSS/BSS) collection and analysis of customer experience-related data, producing customer experience metrics that can feed into multiple OSS or BSS systems," is facing competitive pressures from the likes of Amdocs Ltd. (NYSE: DOX), Compuware Corp. (Nasdaq: CPWR), IBM, Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL), Progress Software Corp. (PSC) (Nasdaq: PRGS), SAP AG (NYSE/Frankfurt: SAP), Telcordia Technologies Inc. , and Tibco Software Inc. (Nasdaq: TIBX). Meanwhile, other SPIT players, such as Kabira Technologies Inc. , Openet Telecom Ltd. , Ontology Systems , and Redknee, have a position in the CEM market. (See Vendors Tackle Mobile Data Management, Kabira Heads to OSS 2.0, and Ontology, CACI Team Up.)

The challenge for all these companies, though, is to clearly communicate what they're offering to the operator community, notes Chappell. "Service providers need to understand the contribution a CI system can make to CEM... Vendors urgently need to clarify their market position with regard to CEM and review their ability to provide and/or use [customer intelligence systems]," states the analyst.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to Three OSS Imperatives: Customer, Cost & Cloud, a Light Reading Virtual Event for service providers that need to understand how to adapt and transform their operational support systems to put customers first, drive out cost, and support new cloud-based services. To take place on Tuesday, April 20, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time, access is free. For more information, or to register, click here.

Read more about:

Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry.
Join 62,000+ members. Yes it's completely free.

You May Also Like