Last time, I wrote about the challenges mobile telcos are facing - how they are in danger of becoming utility bitpipes to the Internet and how some are responding by ensuring subscribers receive high quality, proactive customer service.
Having high customer service ambitions is one thing, but how do companies take it further? How do they go beyond their conventional role and become more center-stage and increase their value in people's day-to-day lives? Sensitive, real-time analysis giving insight into customers behaviour is one answer.
Consider social media, which continues to be one the of the most influential tech trends. By understanding your social connections, your "likes" etc., social media companies attempt to monetize their services by providing channels for other companies to reach you, through targeted advertising and product placement. Now consider the information that a mobile telco has about you. It knows the numbers (and often identities) of the people you call (perhaps evidence of a vastly more meaningful social interaction than simply commenting on a social media status update, it knows whom you text and where you travel to). By doing analysis the telco knows when you're at home, when you're abroad, when you're together with your friends or colleagues. Mobile telcos have, in short, information that social networking companies would die for.
Some organizations are already taking advantage of this information: Turkcell, the leading mobile telco in Turkey with 34M subscribers, is using Apama to analyze customers' usage patterns on the network. It sends highly targeted offers when certain usage patterns occur. These offers could include a top-up to a pay-as-you-go subscriber running low on credit or information about a restaurant promotion if the subscriber is located nearby and it's approaching lunchtime. By sending these promotions in real-time Turkcell reports a ten-fold increase in positive responses compared to previous methods of sending customers offers where they were delivered end of week, end of month etc. The key aspects are relevancy, and timeliness. Deliver something of interest to the subscriber at a time that ensures the context of the offer is retained. Sending a restaurant promotion hours after the subscriber has left the shopping mall will be perceived negatively.
Technically, this is truly a "big data" problem. A typical mid-sized mobile telco with a few tens of millions of subscribers will need to analyze tens of thousands of call data records per second. At very busy times this can peak to hundreds of thousands per second.
Turkcell has become far more relevant to its customers because it is able to respond to customers' usage patterns effectively. With interest, location and time-sensitive promotions subscribers are receiving something that can't be provided by other telcos. Money can be saved, promotions taken advantage of. Customer service is enhanced, churn is reduced and the company has an important market differentiator with which to attract new customers.
As Turkcell has learned, organizations no longer have to be faceless entities. Real-time analysis of social media, and other preferences and patterns, make location-based promotions core to customer engagement.
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