• Wednesday, July 24, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Does Big Data hold key to keeping mobile customers connected?

businessday-icon

We are now consuming more data rich content than ever before, and this is set only to increase. With increased choice regarding what is possible online and via our handsets come more demanding customer expectations, and a desire among consumers to enjoy tailored and fully customisable packages and tariffs.

Meeting this demand creates a huge amount of complexity for communications service providers in terms of customer service, billing, complaints handling and marketing as well as in the technical challenge of being able to switch on services or roll out new offers and tariffs quickly and effectively. Big data could well hold the answer to these challenges.

Location data and network planning

The sophistication of mobile and broadband internet networks means they are perfect for embracing big data for their own advancement. They are able to carry intelligence data on performance and demand through networks which were designed and exist only to convey data.

This is not like retro-fitting technology onto an oil pipeline, for example, our mobile networks and internet networks are designed to share information. Increasingly that means information about us, which enables service providers to refine and hone their offerings.It also means providing information such as location-based data which is a rich component of big data analysis for mobile operators in particular.One example of how location-based data is making a major difference is where mobile operators are looking to invest in their networks.

Operators typically want to make that investment either where it is needed, such as increasing or introducing mobile network coverage in an area which is poorly served, or where that investment will be most appreciated and most popular with profitable customers.

Typically this will be in a city location with a rapidly expanding population of increasingly mobile data-hungry workers. It will not necessarily be where those individuals live, so simply checking a relational database of the most profitable customers against the addresses their bills are sent to, won’t be enough. Mobile data usage needs to be measured in the locations where the data is consumed, in real time at velocity, not retrospectively at the end of the billing period.

For operators, this may mean determining where their most profitable customers are when they are most active and where clusters of good customers may be putting a strain on the current network infrastructure due to increased data consumption.Similarly, operators can identify connectivity bottlenecks on their network which may arise as the result of a major building project or event which brings additional people onto the cells in that area.

The same is true of outages or poor network performance. If issues are identified quickly moreover they can be mitigated before customer complaints start flooding in on social media and via the call centres, which increasingly need to be analysing unstructured data in all channels of communication to build a complete picture of customer experience.

Improving the customer experience in the age of social media

Disgruntled mobile customers are quick to turn to social media to let off steam and this data needs to be captured because it will show how issues are affecting customers – especially when social media posts are geo-tagged – meaning operators can analyse posts from specific parts of the country and build a clear picture of how an issue looks to customers. Very few people in life, if any, enjoy speaking to a call centre.

This can be especially true in the event of having to speak to our mobile operator or internet service provider because there’s a good chance if we’re calling it’s because there is a fault and we have become pretty intolerant of delays and service interruptions to our mobile or internet usage. We expect to be ‘always on’. Those tweets won’t send themselves. It is also true that no two outages are the same in terms of customer impact. Rapid big data analysis allows service providers to see which outages are affecting the most customers, creating the most direct complaints or indirect complaints on social media.

They can run a real-time analysis of which outage is likely to affect the most customers and most profitable customers dependent on the time of day and can schedule prioritised engineering work accordingly.

However, as with our water and electricity companies the first step to delivering excellent customer experience, even in the event of downtime, is knowing that downtime has occurred or is occurring before the customer does – or at least sounding like the situation is in hand when a customer calls. In these days of near-constant social media use and a desire to be connected at all times, when many people are checking their phones constantly, that can mean a window of less than a minute to respond and be up to speed.

Sanni, Country 

Director at Oracle