opinion


Embracing SMAC to satisfy subscribers

customer experience CEM BSS - 1

Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third-party contributors to submit analysis on a key topic affecting the telco industry. In this article Ari Banerjee, Senior Director, Strategy, NetCracker Technology argues operators need to embrace the principles of SMAC if they want to offer a superior customer experience.

Today’s consumers are all about instant gratification and getting their demands met immediately. They want to be seamlessly connected to the people, devices, content and experiences they care about most, and they want more intelligent devices, contextually aware applications, mobile apps and portals to deliver more personalized content.

But when every operator out there has similar networks and services, the only way they can stand out from the pack is by offering a superior customer experience. The provider that manages to do this will be more efficient, more proactive and ultimately more innovative than the competition.

But to get to this point, operators will need to embrace the principles of SMAC (Social, Mobility, Analytics, Cloud) to help address the dilemma of keeping customers satisfied, engaged and loyal. Information gleaned through this approach can help operators proactively pinpoint and diagnose problems in advance leading to an improved customer experience, reduced churn and the ability to launch new optimized services.

Here’s a breakdown of each component of SMAC:

Social: Customer-related data is spread across different BSS/OSS systems, networks, channels, social networks and more, while customer information, customer behavior and marketing initiatives exist across a totally different set of channels. To understand customer behavior across social media platforms, it’s critical to monitor all of these channels. To do that, operators need to create up-to-date, accurate customer profiles using a unified data management strategy that rationalizes data by removing duplication of subscriber data across multiple systems and also keeps data current by synchronizing and updating it on a real-time basis. Customer data can be enriched with information from external sources for deeper understanding of customers, with that data then being utilized across all channels and systems. This will help operators make the jump from first-generation solutions, which were reactive in nature, to proactive strategies that automatically connect to CRM, customer care, BSS and service assurance systems in order to create actionable insight in real time.

Mobility: Customer behavior is changing; they want a digital, mobile lifestyle, which means providing bundled services across many devices, along with a digital content landscape that should ideally offer virtually unlimited choice. And as smart devices have become more ubiquitous, consumer behavior has translated this desire for a mobile digital ecosystem to the corporate environment, and enterprise customers are now asking that their employees have access to company information anytime, anywhere.

As the expectations of the two environments are now rapidly converging, enterprise customers are increasingly acting like consumers and demanding mobility offerings that will increase productivity, enhance efficiency and provide substantial cost savings.  Key examples of these demands include employees asking to bring their own device (BYOD) or choose their own device (CYOD) in the workplace. Due to this shift on the part of consumers, which is spilling into the office environment, enterprises have no choice but to meet these demands. However, supporting various platforms (i.e., Apple and Android) is not easy, and their service providers currently lack the expertise to assist, making the task even more daunting.

Advanced Analytics Driven: Any next-generation customer engagement solution must be based on advanced analytics to help operators meet customers’ needs in real time. Advanced analytics help deliver contextual insight for operators by navigating through copious amounts of data and looking at disparate incoming data sources such as customer care, product/service/device portfolios, cost and billing and network service quality to segment customers. This allows for more targeted up- and cross-sell opportunities and also helps operators predict future behavior patterns.

In the context of customer care, operators have many options to consider. First, they will need to create a robust repository of error fixes, enable proactive resolution of issues by guiding contact center agents to reduce average handle time and receive continuous contextual intelligence updates that effectively maintain an up-to-date map of each customer. This should include a probabilistic engine, which predicts trends and the likelihood that customers will act – e.g., call, return device, churn, time of bill pay, etc. These must be done on a per-subscriber/per-service basis where correlations and patterns affecting individual customers can be brought to light.

Cloud: Although speed to market can help companies gain a competitive advantage, it often requires a major overhaul of existing deployment tools and network reengineering to shorten the deployment and delivery cycle. Cloud-based services can significantly reduce the time required for service deployment, allowing companies to scale their applications or deploy multiple servers within minutes by simply clicking a few buttons.

Service providers are also looking to a more aggressive cloud strategy to meet the market demands of business customers who are looking for solutions that provide efficient business operations (disaster recovery, web sites, workforce automation, business process automation), deliver greater employee mobility and productivity (videoconferencing, UC, document and knowledge sharing etc.) and fill skills gaps (such as IT support).

The Many Advantages of SMAC

Leveraging and adopting the principles of SMAC and aligning that to operators internal processes will be absolutely critical going forward. These concepts will helps operators inject real-time actionable intelligence in their day-to-day operations by improving and streamlining their process capabilities in order to be lean and achieve sustainable competitive advantages.

Ari Banerjee - NetCrackerAri Banerjee works for NEC/NetCracker as Senior Director of Strategy, responsible for strategic direction of the company enabling the company to exploit the changing market and technology opportunities. Ari interfaces with the CTO and CIOs at customers and prospects to ensure alignment of technology, products and services and provide strategic input to CTO office, product management, R&D. In his role Ari has to interface with industry organizations, standards bodies, media and analysts and run marketing and strategic partner programs for NetCracker.


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