Retaining subscribers in this competitive environment is challenging. Marketing faster network speeds and offering new devices is no longer enough to keep customers on board. Mobile operators adopted Customer Experience Management (CEM) to optimize interactions from the customer’s perspective to reduce churn.

Customer experience was initially a matter of network performance measured by coverage, dropped calls, download speeds and smooth video streaming. In time customer experience expanded to ensuring a positive experience across the entire customer life cycle. Now as technology has advanced customer experience has become customer engagement.

Mobile operators have a few channels to engage with subscribers, but they have limitations. Subscribers don’t typically choose to visit their operator’s portal. SMS’s can notify subscribers of new offers, but often these messages can get lost, or can be perceived as spam.

There are also mobile operator’s apps available on the Appstore, or Google Play that can be downloaded. However it is difficult to convince subscribers to download these operator-branded apps, and often there are several applications that each do something different so it is difficult to choose which one they need.

Interactive Mobile Apps

While operators’ apps are challenging to get people to adopt, operators still invest heavily in having the option to provide access to clientless interactive mobile apps. Many of these apps are used for customer engagement. According to a recent report by Ovum, CEM has emerged as the top driver of telco IT investments in 2014 that includes service personalization with relevant services offered at each point of interaction.

Another option of enabling a subscriber engagement tool is by using advanced operators’ network components to inject an extra engaging layer into subcribers native browsers. This engagement enables operators to reach a large number of eyeballs just by enabling the configuration on to the relevant subscriber base. This type of solution enables operators to reach devices bought on the grey market and does not require applications to be pre-loaded or downloaded.

In addition to real-time subscriber account status and notifications, coupons for products and services and content can be made available based on the subscribers’ interests. These offers can be revealed at the most relevant time based on the subscriber’s browsing context. For example, when a traveller is browsing to purchase a place ticket to Berlin, offers can appear for the relevant roaming package, or even providing a lower flight ticket fare.

Show Me the Money

This type of interactive web-based app has been very positively received by subscribers with an opt-out rate as low as 2%. One Asian operator achieved a click-through rate of 65% and a conversion rate of 27.3% by providing relevant merchandise to sports fans. In Europe a campaign offering cinema tickets resulted in a 41% click through rate and a conversion rate of 5.3%, while an offer for pizza resulted in a 22% click through rate and a 5.3% conversion rate.
Generally speaking, by providing highly relevant offers the conversion rate is unusually high, ranging from 5% – 37%, which is much higher than standard display advertising at .010% and SMS at 2%.

One Eastern European operator estimates they will receive $100 million dollars in top-up revenues and services in 5 years by using this service, where 25% of the subscribers interact with the service on a daily basis, and 1% make purchases on a daily basis.

Stumbling Blocks

Of course there are challenges to implementing this type of service. Other than the technological complexity of enabling this service to a large group of devices and websites, one of the largest obstacle can be building an inventory of compelling mobile content and finding the right match between offers and the target audience. Some vendors include these types of services with the technology which can speed up time to market and avoid the added risk of adding additional human resources and expertise to the operator’s labor force.

In addition, operators who are already squeezed by investments in LTE and capacity while experiencing declining ARPU are less willing to invest in a new service without seeing a quick ROI. A simple revenue sharing model can solve this problem where operators can experience profits from day one. Services can include revenue sharing based on payments from publishers where tracking, invoicing, and payments are all managed by the monetization vendor eliminating the expense and headaches of administering the program for the operator.

Customer engagement can result in new revenue streams for operators if all the required pieces are in place. If an operator can implement a clientless platform that reaches a wider range of devices and has the necessary mobile content expertise with a business model that provides revenues from day one, then the benefits far outweigh the risks. Customer engagement is not just about reducing churn, it can actually become a strategy for differentiation and long term sustainable profitability.

Noam GreenNoam Green, Vice President of Marketing

Flash NetworkNoam Green joined Flash Networks in January 2014 following the acquisition of Mobixell. At Mobixell since 2005, Noam held multiple marketing and pre-sales positions, most recently as Vice President of Marketing and Monetization. Previously, he was responsible for establishing and managing the company’s presale activities in EMEA and leading the company’s Solutions & Innovations group, which focused on business development activities. Noam has more than 14 years of experience in the communication business working in companies ranging from satellite communication, through mobile operators to telco software providers. Prior to joining Mobixell, Noam worked at Pelephone’s engineering division – Israel’s first mobile network operator, where he led multiple VAS projects, such as mobile TV, messaging and Internet browsing to implementation. Noam holds a B.Sc. in Computer Science and Economics from Ben Gurion University.

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