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Customer Experience Management (CEM)

CEM Becoming Big Data Analytics Star

ATLANTA -- Telecom Analytics World -- While making money has traditionally been the primary goal of network operators with big data, customer experience management (CEM) is now becoming job number one for advanced analytics.

This was the sentiment expressed by a number of attendees at this week's show in Atlanta. (See Analyze This! Telecom Analytics World in Pics, Analytics in a World of SDN, NFV & IoT and Defining Big Data & Telco Analytics.)

Mark Geere, head of product, CEM & network applications for Amdocs Ltd. (NYSE: DOX), a relatively new player in analytics, said that in the last six months, he's seen many more requests for information (RFIs) about CEM, which was surprising given Amdocs' expertise in billing. Operators are now asking how to pull together network data, care, marketing and customer information to improve the customer experience, he said. (See Amdocs Wants to Be Big in Carrier Big Data.)

"In the last six months, we've seen more and more RFIs asking us about CEM and what can we do in CEM," Geere said. "That has changed as well in the past few years. Big data is going there to help enable CEM, and it's really starting to look holistically across all the different departments. [Building a] customer-focused enterprise is changing it."


Need to know more about big data analytics and its impact on communications service providers? Then check out the Telecom Analytics World show site here on Light Reading.


This is a sentiment that Mario Vela, senior data performance and capacity engineer for U.S. Cellular Corp. (NYSE: USM), echoed later in the day. In his role in the engineering department, he's responsible for capacity planning and adhering to network key performance indicators (KPIs). Even with his technical, numbers-driven focus, however, CEM is the name of the game.

"US Cellular's focus on customer service is driving a lot of our engineering efforts," he said. "There's a lot of interest in our side on understanding jitter and latency impacts on apps, how Netflix is impacted by lost frames and those kind of things… Network quality drives customer experience perception."

Of course, it's good business to say CEM is the most important thing to your company, even while many are pursuing analytics to help them better target customers with ads and promotions. But it's also more than just lip service for wireless operators. Every call into customer care costs them money -- $25 for a smartphone-related call-in, according to Heavy Reading -- and retaining a customer is much cheaper than acquiring a new one. (See Verizon Rewards Customers for Their Data.)

"Loyalty matters even more because of the cost of acquisition," said Will Hakes, managing director at KPMG International . "People are very customer-focused, so they are focusing on math, systems to keep those customers, and the network -- how do companies relate network problems to customer issues?"

How to measure the customer experience is still "embryonic and not a done deal," according to Amdocs' Geere. Amdocs does it through a set of thresholds for things such as how many calls a customer has made into the care center in the last month. Tying this to his or her net promoter score can set a trigger for when a care agent should reach out proactively and what can be offered to assuage the customer.

C Spire has built what Justin Croft, its manager of brand platforms and analytics, calls an "embedded predictive next-best action environment," which embeds analytics into its operations for the purpose of both measuring and improving the customer experience. It keeps track of the customer at every single touchpoint, whether it be in stores, through a mobile app, SMS, email, website or otherwise.

"We're scoring customers through this model and predicting the optimal outcome for the customer and company, which are almost always the same," he said, later noting that, "If we can surface who will be dissatisfied before a complaint is made, we see as much churn savings from those kind of campaigns as from all our retention campaigns combined." (See C Spire Lets SPIT Percolate and C Spire's COO Sees the Percs in SPIT.)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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