Customer Experience Management (CEM)

Astellia Highlights Customer Care Disconnect

Along with their fixed line and cable operator brethren, mobile operators, with few exceptions, are known for their poor customer care. New industry research suggests they are a long way from truly addressing what should be a priority issue.

According to the results of a survey commissioned by French network monitoring and analytics vendor Astellia , there is a significant disconnect between the customer care expectations of mobile subscribers and the ability (and willingness) of mobile operators to respond to problems. Not surprisingly, almost 50% of the 2,000 consumers in six countries who took the survey are unhappy with the level of customer service they receive from their mobile service provider. (See EuroProfile: Astellia.)

Astellia's press release and infographic (below) highlight lots of areas where mobile operators, more than 40 of which were surveyed, are lacking. (See Astellia Unveils Customer Care Research Results.)

Most striking is the statistic related to the speed at which network-related problems should be resolved:

    66% of subscribers expect a network-related problem to be resolved within 1 hour. Only 28% of consumers are prepared to wait up to 24 hours. This contrasts starkly with the findings from the MNOs themselves, the majority of whom believe their customers will wait up to 1 day for network problems to be resolved, and a further 26% expecting their customers will wait up to 3 days.

That's a remarkable difference but maybe some operators need days to figure out what might be disrupting their network. But surely they have troubleshooting tools to identify network problems?

Astellia's chief marketing officer, Cedric Arnaud-Battandier, says they have plenty of tools but often too many that are uncoordinated and being used by different parts of the mobile operator's organization. "There is a lot of complexity -- they need simplification," he states.

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As you'd expect, Astellia, which boasts more than 200 mobile operator customers, is ready and willing to offer such simplification with its monitoring and analytics tools that gather data from the network, analyze it and present information in ways that can be customized to an operator's needs. "It's not about big data, it's about the right data," he notes.

Included in the Astellia toolbox is a program that enables operators to identify customer sets based on their services/applications/data usage -- "smart segmentation" the CMO calls it -- rather than by their billing data or subscriber information. That is opening doors within mobile operators beyond the network optimization team that has been the traditional touch point within the carriers for Astellia: Now it is talking also with customer experience and marketing teams.

Arnaud-Battandier notes that some operators, in an effort to improve customer satisfaction levels [Editor's note: Something they have been talking about since 1876], are forming specific teams that are responsible for the management and dissemination within the operator of "actionable" information gleaned from such tools, citing Belgium's BASE as an example where Astellia's technology is involved in that process.

So maybe mobile operators are finally starting to act on their promises of investing people, time and money into developing better customer experience management strategies. As they do, though, Astellia won't be alone in competing for those dollars and euros, as big name rivals such as JDSU (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU) (soon to become Viavi Solutions) and Tektronix Communications , which is in the process of being acquired by another rival, NetScout Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: NTCT), are chasing the same business. (See Let There Be Lumentum! JDSU Names Its New Empire, NetScout to Buy Danaher's Comms Unit and 10 SPIT Vendors to Watch in 2015.)

— Ray Le Maistre, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

Josh Adelson 4/30/2015 | 3:31:45 PM
Re: Improvement needed A lot of good points here that ought to be obvious but that we sometimes forget. Infrastructure vendors have a role to play here too. It's not enough just to have the latest fastest box... the management systems need to make it easy to troubleshoot, and they need to be able to feed data into the higher level tools like Astellia's and those of the other companies you mention.
mendyk 4/30/2015 | 10:23:21 AM
Re: Improvement needed That is quite a turnaround. Maybe this whole competitive pressure thing works, after all!
sowen557 4/30/2015 | 10:18:55 AM
Re: Improvement needed Recently in the UK I switched to BT from Sky for Cable services and their new voice bundle offer.  Very pleasant experience from fibre team, install team, Cust Care team of BT.  Once the joke in the UK of "Any colour phone sir as long as it is black" company to a very customer focused organisation that I can not praise more.

Keep up great work team BT.
mendyk 4/30/2015 | 8:38:53 AM
Re: Improvement needed It makes sense in the context of the way most businesses are run. Sweating out costs generally is given a higher if not top priority. Process improvements are much more likely to be embraced when the "improvement" results in tangible savings. So in the battle between improving customer experience and lowering the cost of delivering that experience, the latter usually wins.
[email protected] 4/30/2015 | 6:35:14 AM
Re: Improvement needed Yet there is evidence that money spent on customer care is an investment rather than just a cost... Virgin Mobile in the UK showed that a focus of resources on customer experience management can help build a business from nothing and attract customers through the perception of better service levels.

Service providers are worried about churn and customer retention, yet don't appear to do much about it. It doesn't make much sense. 
mendyk 4/29/2015 | 6:06:08 PM
Re: Improvement needed Can you think of any industry in which customer care has improved? There are a few companies that do customer care very well, but most view it as a cost center, which is why they invest in systems that lower their costs rather than actually improve the quality of their customer service.
sarahthomas1011 4/29/2015 | 4:02:20 PM
Re: Improvement needed I have to say, we've been hearing this for years, and things don't seem to improve...at least not from my personal experience and what I see of others online. I'm not sure what it will take for real improvements to take hold, because -- so far -- the OTT threat hasn't changed antyhing. 
Mitch Wagner 4/29/2015 | 2:28:24 PM
Improvement needed Carriers of all stripes will need to pay more attention to customer care as they see competition from new players -- people now considered OTT providers. 
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