From Experience to Engagement "making sense out of mobile"

Date:   Tuesday , May 01, 2012

mCarbon is a mobile media and Value Added Service (VAS) provider working for various media companies, telecom operators, enterprises and content providers alike to render a unique and innovative service led product environment and delivering its most cost effective solutions. mCarbon’s network appstore, Greenroom enables faster and cost effective delivery of services to end-consumers via MNOs.

Various products that ride on this platform ensure faster time to market, lesser integration nuances and differentiated customer experience. The core platform brings virality in services by using recommendation, consumer profiling & social networks. For telcos, mCarbon’s services enable higher customer retention along with an increase in average revenue per user. mCarbon’s Greenroom is a network app framework deployed across leading operators in India. mCarbon is already servicing total base of over 400 million subs across all major telcos in India.

This has been talked time and again but essentially the innocuous looking mobile devices are quickly becoming ubiquitous and will soon outnumber the world's total population. The advent of better speeds and near universal availability of wireless broadband are turning smart phones and tablets into personal commerce and content consumption engines. There are various players in this successful ecosystem that needs hardware, software, network and most importantly user "pull".

Mobile provides companies with unprecedented information about individual consumers, including their interests, behaviors, preferences and desires and they are just begining to scratch the surface regarding ways to utilize mobile to connect with, influence and transact with consumers.

The story drivers

Some of the drivers of this story are:
a) The smarter computing phones with continued proliferation of such nifty devices including tablets and the growth of the humongous App economy is fuelling growth in Mobile. The prime driver for selecting a device is not just the hardware and the form factor but how an app behaves and interacts over it. Mobile apps are increasingly embedded with enterprise data, cloud platforms, commerce and social networks to bring about virality.

b) Mobile advertising has inherent "in your face" benefits over traditional (including online advertising) with newer brands embracing mobile as a first medium, contextual since this can put location advantages to use, to charge premium ad space, greater personalization capabilities (mobile is generally not a shared resource) and in general the capability to reach the audience anywhere and anytime.

c) Emerging models like spot sales and group buying are paving way for increased activity in mCommerce as they are completely influencing the way people discover research and purchase various goods and services. Various payment enablers on mobile are already redefining the way consumer stores and transacts with cash. New technology advancements based on proximity like NFC, voice biometrics and more are making contactless transactions a reality and allaying fears of security and privacy.

The inputs to the mobile consumer today comes from various sources like location, direction, preferences, tweets and updates, activities, social graph, purchase history, blogs and some of them also from the traditional sources like favorite callers, frequent callers, frequent sms buddies, personalization, and more, and hence allows access to consumers in their moment of need – when they are the most available, most influenced and most willing to transact.

The amount of consumer data that is available across mobile network operators (MNOS) in such multifaceted transactions within the network is like a goldmine and sifting through this would mean a whole lot of systems in real-time and then to be able to give it to various auxiliary systems for further processing and making meaningful inferences out of it.

Customer experience management (CEM) solutions address the cross-channel (contact center, Internet, self service, mobile devices, brick and mortar stores), cross-touchpoint (phone, chat, email, Web, in-person), and cross-lifecycle (ordering, fulfillment, billing, support, and more) nature of the customer experience process.

Existing customers are your sustainable growth harbingers

Good CEM engagement models allow businesses to identify their biggest customer fans and single them out for loyalty rewards and promotional offers. The segmentation is a prime driver for this and then the end result of these actions generally translates into repeat visits and more revenues. CEM system’s sniffing tools or data probes are at various levels within a MNO network and also within the social graphs. It generally applies various filters to siphon more relevant information to the user bringing together both the relevancy and context.

So what does this all mean in practice?

Let us start with the basics; the customer touch points are many in the network and the key is to track them and monitor them proactively and in real time, not reactive and late.

By monitoring the performance of the network and services in real time, MNOs gain valuable insight for a proactive response. By monitoring how services are being used right now, and by following network alarms and network performance in real time, they can immediately pick up any service quality issues that arise.

After starting with the basic consumption device, e.g. there is a problem in the end-user’s device settings either due to some settings mismatch, they are roaming or not been able to access their service.The system automatically recognizes the inconsistency and raises an alarm. This then triggers the relevant downstream system to access settings data to register incorrect setting and then send the right data to the device in real time.
During the complete lifecycle of the consumer usage of a service or a product, the problems can come in the way she/he has opted in for a service, has already paid for it and yet has not consumed the services because of a certain application/product not responding in real time. We do realize that today’s MNO is like spaghetti of sorts with diverse systems from different vendors all intertwined with each other trying to deliver their own part of the solution. The CEM layer works in tandem with all of these and promises to create a level field where disparate systems work towards a common agenda, which is higher customer engagement and stickiness.

Apart from these global problems in this area, there is further insight into customer behavior which tries to address totally other concerns. As an example, a pre-paid customer (90 percent of India’s 650 plus million mobile population) has everything but enough balance at a given time to buy a particular service and hence in this very common situation the systems need to trigger few other sub systems like transferring of talk time, borrowing/loaning some cash via the system for them to consummate the transaction. The impact of such an enhanced customer experience is almost immediate on the bottom line, translating into lower churn and higher revenue per user, as well as lower operational costs in terms of reduced OPEX and faster time to market for MNOs.

In conclusion, the paradigm is shifting from quantity to quality in the next generation of digital economy as more and more users are becoming aware of the ecosystem around and are getting "aware" and more demanding. As barriers of entry and walled gardens will break completely from an ecosystem so shall be a plethora of information and engagement that needs to make sense when moving from point A to B.