By Neil Lilley, 16 July, 2014.

The Final Piece of the Puzzle: Customer Assurance

In our last post, we explored the value of an airtight service assurance system in providing a superior customer experience. With a well-managed network offering the foundation for superior services, service assurance gives operators the first insights into the experience of their customers, while simultaneously enabling a more agile and effective approach to quality of service through the intelligent use of fresh data and quality metrics.

However, service quality management solutions - while an integral part to a holistic, positive customer experience - only offer operators insights into their customers in aggregate. The final layer of the insurance stack requires operators to further refine their focus onto the individual customer, thus offering a custom-tailored service experience for each and every customer.

The Final Piece: Customer Assurance 
Customer assurance is the final element of the key to cracking the assurance code. Customer assurance means having a clear understanding of the service experience from the perspective of the individual customer, and in doing so providing customer-oriented solutions to maintain a superior relationship with that customer.

In order to accomplish this, operators make use of customer experience management (CEM) systems. These systems sift through massive amounts of data in order to predict and detect any service impairments and then correlate these events with individual customers, locations, content, or devices.

CEM systems aim to quickly and decisively identify the source of service impairment, for example the device, their current cell, or the content source site, which then enables customer service representatives to manage customer service events in the most efficient way possible.

In addition, CEM systems can take advantage of big data in order to steer customer service interactions in the most efficient direction. To accomplish this, they make use of “best next step analytics,” which are supported by the treasure trove of fresh customer data, thus offering the customer service agent acute knowledge into the nature of the customer interaction. This, in turn, leads to shorter call duration, faster trouble diagnosis, and ultimately a happier customer.

However, some service providers rely only on probe systems to address this function.  This approach lacks the network event and OSS information to diagnose the root cause of the customer’s experience issues.  In these cases, a more holistic approach, incorporating information from probes, SQM, network events and other sources is necessary. In addition, the complexity and intense competition of today’s ecosystem means that resolving issues is only part of a superior customer service experience.

Bringing It All Together
A superior customer experience is one that requires agility, nuance, and intelligent use of available resources. Moreover, superior customer service is one that does not react to customer complaints, but instead preempts customer complaints by efficiently managing customer data.

Integral to effective use of data is the “3-D” approach to data synthesis: CEM systems need to be agile enough to effectively take advantage of the vast data available across the diverse fields of business, from customer information derived from sales and marketing all the way down to network and service data that could affect the individual customer.

This 3-D approach helps customer service agents to not only answer customer complaints with minimal effort and fewer unanswered questions, but also enables them to preemptively turn reactive, negative customer experiences into proactive, exemplary customer experience.

For example, an agile CEM system could determine which customers consistently max out their data limit on a particular plan, and preempt the inevitable call from customer who laments the limitations of his service with a call to the customer offering him a solution to his service needs.

This agile approach to customer experience management thus turns a potentially negative customer service experience into an extraordinary one, simply by appropriately using the data already available to the operator. By using their information and various assurance systems, from the foundational network all the way to laser-focused customer relations, operators are able to implement OSS solutions that maximize efficiency, flexibility, and above all produce superior customer experiences.

Written by Neil Lilley

Neil Lilley is a Product Marketing Director for Operations Support Systems at Ericsson, focused on software solutions for service and network assurance as well as customer experience management. His expertise in technology, operations, and marketing comes from many years leading professional services engagements as well as launching, managing and marketing software products covering customer care, order management and assurance.

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