African telecommunications has reached a turning point and the question that service providers across the spectrum of ICT now face is this: how can the organisation be adapted to the changing needs of the market and deliver a service that is outstanding, reliable and relevant?
Management at Comverse Inc. believes that the answer lies in CEM or Customer Experience Management and how this is adopted by businesses.
“Customer Experience Management refers to the attempt to focus on customer needs that are targeted and to provide an experience that retains customers. Why is this important? Well, essentially we are in a highly competitive industry and people are extremely price sensitive. At the end of the day, you get into a situation where everyone is lowering prices to win customers and it is getting into a price war mode. What happens is that ‘I am a very satisfied customer today with my service provider, but very likely tomorrow, if a competitor offers me a lower price, I will be very satisfied with them instead’,” explains Yariv Geller, VP Marketing, Strategy and Planning at Comverse.
Comverse is a leading provider of software and systems enabling value-added services for converged billing and active customer management, as well as mobile Internet.
The company provides what it describes as ‘productised solutions and services’ designed to enhance communication service provider networks and enable operators to add further value to their subscriber bases.
Its network coverage extends to 125 countries globally and 450 communication service providers.
This service and technology is targeted at a broad market of tier-1 carriers and global operators to emerging operators and ISPs.
Recently Comverse participated in AfricaCom 2012 and used the opportunity to remind the market of the value of the strategy of acquiring a solid view of the customer by using a one centralised repository of information about the customer.
“You may be receiving various services from a service provider, possibly, in some cases, for a mobile phone and also a fixed line, or TV or Internet. Each of these services requires different systems to manage the customer and our objective was to show the value in the concept of converged billing. This means that there is one source of data about the customer, irrespective of the type of service they are receiving,” adds Geller.
Converged billing is a core component of the company’s service offering to the market, particularly within emerging markets like Africa.
Aside from the way information is gathered and used to strengthen customer service, Comverse also used the event to highlight the increasing relevance of social networking to business growth.
Geller explains that the convergence of telecommunication systems and services into the social network realm is a growing trend. It is a trend fuelled by the fact that more people are spending more time on social networks and, from a sales and services point of view, it means that more customers are engaged with social networks.
According to Geller this resource can be used by customers to avoid having to use traditional systems, such as call centres, to manage accounts and update services.
Comverse showed delegates how to utilise Facebook to manage and update accounts, send and receive voice mail, respond through SMS and leverage off telecommunication services.
“So it is taking all the systems and bringing them onto social media. It is about saying ‘I am going to follow my customers and not going to lose them to other channels, I am going to take my offering and bring it to them as well’,” Geller explains.
Gelller believes the ICT industry, throughout many regions across the world, is experiencing lower margins and there is an impact on services.
However, he says that service providers are looking to new avenues and service channels to embrace innovation and grow businesses.
Machine-to-machine is one example. “The way we view the industry is changing and we are trying to help our customers reinvent themselves in the new world,” Geller says.
Chris Tredger, Online Editor