Time for a Broadbandectomy?

Broadband Speed Test
Time for a Broadbandectomy?

One day.  That’s all I want from my broadband provider.  One day of continuous, uninterrupted broadband service with a consistent speed.  Is that too much to ask?  I know VoIP is not the most stable service in the world but lately I’m finding my mobile is my most reliable device for voice calls.  Streaming catch-up TV services is always a challenge and I dare not even try online gaming.  Broadband is the foundation for so much in our lives at home and at work but appears to be the poor relation of communication services.  Fixed line telephony just works and people make allowances for mobile technology but if the internet goes down in my house it’s more catastrophic than the dishwasher breaking down.  Teenagers cannot live without the internet.  The most effective form of punishment is now to confiscate your child’s phone.  An inconsistent service is not a pleasant experience and leaves you with a house of unhappy people.  Maybe I should upgrade?  This is a little difficult when you already have fast fibre and unlimited service.  It’s not about money, it’s about service.  So this leaves me thinking it’s time to change my broadband provider or as the guys at Telecoms.com said in a recent podcast it’s time for a ‘broadbandectomy’.  The Telecoms.com ‘A Week in Wireless’ podcast is particularly humorous and does a good job of fighting through the hype and telling it like it is.

If you have a problem with your service provider then you switch to another one.  It sounds so easy.  The first question everyone asks is am I still in contract?  In this day and age you’d be forgiven for thinking you could log into the web portal of your provider and find out.  For mobile it seems the Communications Service Providers (CSPs) are happy to show you when your contract runs out, even when you hit the upgrade window prior to the contract end.  For my broadband provider this is just another opportunity to put in another obstacle in the form of a long call to customer support to listen to their awesome on-hold music.  Then, with a little patience, it’s possible to get a date to begin to plan for the inevitable exit.  Is it bad enough to exit before contract end and suffer financial penalties?  Maybe I should call them and see what they are prepared to offer to keep me as a customer?  This usually results is a slightly better price being proposed but when you tell them you are actually leaving then suddenly the big guns come out and they offer you much more to keep you.  A common scenario but surely your provider knows which customers are the most valuable?

I read so many articles about customer experience and how it builds loyalty and drives revenues.  I’ve read annual reports stating how improving the customer experience is a ‘key strategic priority’.  I’ve attended conferences and listened to CSPs explain how they are working on the customer experience but I see no evidence that anything has changed.  Everyone still has a new customer experience nightmare to talk about.  My Service Provider should be looking at my profile, at my household and seeing missed revenue opportunities.  At a time when competition is fierce a CSP must use all the weapons available.  I’ve talked about two touch points in my customer experience but there are many more.  At each touch point there is an opportunity to meet your customer’s expectations.  There is also the opportunity to exceed or woefully under deliver and there is data that tells the CSP how well they are doing.  It could be network data stating that my broadband service is inconsistent.  That network data may also be highlighting that the problem is not the network but something specific to me.  If I had a piece of data that said this household has a poor experience and they have called customer support to ask when their contract comes to an end then I would be using it as a preventative churn measure.  This is your data sounding the alarm that your customer is about to leave for your competition.  The data exists but not all CSPs collect it and even fewer join it to other pieces of data so why not?

Historically, technology was a barrier.  The data available to a CSP is enormous and much of it is constantly changing but now we have Hadoop it is possible to do so much more than before.  Then there is the challenge of real-time ingestion at volume.  Informatica has streaming solutions for delivering millions of messages per second with sub-second latency.  This technology is used in environments that require high performance real-time data management such as stock exchanges.  Once you have your data how do you connect it in your environment?  Well, there are master data solutions for creating customer profiles, household views and relationship views.  There is Big Data Relationship Management software that shows how data is related.  Informatica now has another piece of software called the Intelligent Data Lake (IDL) that even helps you prepare data set by viewing the data and creating joins, splits and calculations.  Once you’re happy with the data you’re seeing you can save the ‘recipe’ and the software prepares the data for you, job done.  No more continuous iterations (and several arguments) with IT about what you can and can’t do.  One of the problems with loading data into a data lake is it can quickly become a swamp and users struggle to find the right data for the job.  With IDL you can search for data sets, see if the data already exists and where similar data exists you can see what the quality level is and how others rate the data.

Perhaps technology is no longer the problem.  Maybe it’s the way CSPs are organized?  A friend of mine recently changed CSP and took all of his services away from his current provider.  3 phone calls later, well technically 3 calls and a load of transfers he finally had given notice to his current provider.  It only took him one online transaction to set this bundle up in the first place.  Support was one of his biggest complaints.  Every product line dealt with things differently and independently.  He said it was like dealing with multiple companies and when he said he was changing TV service they didn’t seem that bothered.  They didn’t even attempt to persuade him to stay.  However, once the broadband and line rental were also leaving then came the offer but it was too little too late.  Once a customer starts down the switch route it is difficult to stop them but the warning signs are there.  Little data points along the customer journey that tell you things are not quite going according to plan.  Act at these points and you can save these customers, wait until the end of these journeys and the chance of successful customer retention is severely impacted.  Not exactly rocket science and many companies have already started to harness the power of data to drive their customer experience. 

Businesses are using their data to improve the customer experience, pre-empting and predicting problems.  Engine manufacturers use it for predictive maintenance, Hyatt Hotels are using knowledge about their customers to provide a more personalized experience for their guests, retailers like Nordstrom use it to drive purchases and recommendations for their customers and Netflix use it to determine what type of movies and TV programs to invest in.  Many companies in many industries are using their data to drive their business, differentiate themselves from their competitors and drive revenues.  So why not broadband providers?  For some CSPs becoming a data-driven business probably seems a long way off but those that follow this path will differentiate themselves, have more loyal customers and higher revenues.  Imagine hearing someone telling a story about how great their service provider is?

To learn about the data-driven business join us at the Informatica World Tour / MDM Event in London on the 20th October – click here for more details.

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