Measuring Customer Experience from the Network Perspective

This year’s TM Forum event had a number of key themes including the old favorite, Customer Experience. I say old in that as a concept, Customer Experience, especially in the Telco world, has been around for a number of years. During this time it has of course evolved, but in doing so, it now means different things to different people – which is not necessarily a bad thing. Customer Experience now encompasses all aspects of customers’ interaction with a Service Provider, from the moment they switch on their handsets, to the bills or invoices they receive, and, of course, how they experience post sales or Customer Care.

Often lost amongst all of this is the customers’ experience of actually accessing and using the services they have subscribed to. Some vendors talk about tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for all customers, all the time. Others discuss selecting and tracking KPIs for their high value customers only. Whatever the strategy, the key source for such KPIs or metrics still remains the Service Providers’ biggest asset: their network. This raises another challenge: What do you measure and why?

For a typical Mobile Operator, there are really only five distinct areas or KPI classes:

  1. Service Availability: Can customers attach to the network?
  2. Service Accessibility: Once attached, can customers successfully access a requested service?
  3. Service Retainability: Can customers retain or maintain service continuity as they roam?
  4. Service Integrity: Can the Operator select which are measures specific to the actual service experience are important to monitor, such as latency, jitter, etc.

So what is number five? Well, it’s not really a KPI class as such, but more determining when, where, and why a service failure or issue occurs.

For a Mobile Operator, this analysis or demarcation is essential. This is especially true in the world of Mobile data, where nearly all content is hosted externally. If customers cannot access what they consider to be a high value service like Skype or Whatsapp, their immediate reaction is to blame the Mobile Operator. In fact, nearly half of all smartphone users blame mobile providers for service issues.

Being pre-armed with information confirming that the problem actually lies outside the Mobile Operator’s network and is the responsibility of the actual Content Provider is vital in not only correcting the issue, but subsequently communicating the same to the customer base. Even during significant periods of Service outage, such communication and so information, having this knowledge can only improve the Customer Experience.

What metrics do you use to assure customer experience? Let me know in the comments below.

Learn more about assuring the Customer Experience by reading Signalling Storm, Forecasting Changing Mobile Conditions.

Written by Graham Kunz – Graham on Twitter | Posts by Graham
Graham is Empirix’s European Service Assurance Expert and he’s worked in the tech industry for nearly twenty years. More than 14 years of that time has been in Service Assurance, working with wireless customers and internal teams to understand and capture product requirements, as well as develop and introduce products. His global outlook, wireless technology knowledge and technical know-how provide him with an excellent perspective on the current and future direction of mobility and the wireless industry.

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