Email a colleague    

May 2014

Driving Customer Care Results & Cost Savings from Big Data Facts

Driving Customer Care Results & Cost Savings from Big Data Facts

If we were still in the era of simple landline phones and voice mail, maybe telecom customer care jobs would be in decline.

But in the age of smartphones and a dizzying array of app and network technology, customers expect call center pros to step up and help them solve tough problems.

In fact, the technical expertise of many customer care pros today puts them in the league of “Computer Support Specialists”, a $48,500 a year job the U.S.  Department of Labor says will grow an above-average 17% in the next decade.

But technocrats undervalue the role of humans in the customer experience mix.  The truth is that full, end-to-end care automation is neither affordable nor wise.  The best strategy is a semi-automated one that puts great intelligence at the fingertips of highly trained reps.

And stepping up to deliver that greater — and big-data-based — care intelligence is comScore, a Washington DC based firm that has led the website audience measurement business for two decades.

In this interview, Brian Jurutka, comScore’s Senior VP of Global Telecom Solutions, explains why his firm made a deep investment in telecom-specific analytics and the payoff the firm’s now delivering in customer care.

Dan Baker: Brian, it would be great if you could first give us some background on comScore, whose background is rather uncommon among telecom software firms.

Brian Jurutka: Dan, comScore is best known for our audience measurement and analytics of websites on the internet.  So when a Microsoft or Yahoo says: “Hey, you should advertise on our site because we have 21 million visitors a month,” comScore is often cited as the independent third party authority who verifies those numbers.

Now helping us do that is a panel of 2 million people worldwide (including 1 million in the U.S.) who let us monitor their on-line usage.Then the content providers also tag their websites so we can verify and weigh our panel’s behavior to the full internet population.

We have also developed our own dictionaries and business rules to categorize content across the web, as well as for mobile applications and devices.  For instance, when you visit a website, we capture the start and end time of a visit and the number of page views.

One of the biggest challenges is converting the raw web events into intelligence.  If you have 350 server calls going back and forth between machines, how do you translate that to actual page views?  It’s not easy, but we’ve built our expertise and methodologies in that for over 15 years.

Now in recent years you’ve invested deeper into the telecom industry specifically.  What attracted you to do that?

Yes, about 4 years ago we bought Nexius, a firm who specializes in measuring service quality in a carrier network.  We recognized we could add value by combining the Quality of Service (QoS) metrics that Nexius provides with comScore’s own categorization data.

What distinguishes our approach is we’re agnostic as to the source of the network data.  Other companies can profile subscribers by linking to proprietary probes.  But we’ve said: why not work with any probe out there?  By being DPI agnostic, we can capture voice, data and SMS quality.

So after calculating QoS, we combine that with comScore’s audience measurement and content categorization methodologies to capture the metadata.  And this is very specific: it’s not just saying the user visited the Los Angeles Times, it’s knowing that she visited the technology, sports, or travel section of the site.

And our people are good at normalizing this data so when you look at the duration, page views, and megabytes consumed, it’s apples to apples across a multi-vendor network that includes equipment from Ericsson, Nokia-Siemens, and all the rest.

Believe it or not, this is not easy to do: connecting the CDR data with DPI data and CRM, but it allows you to make sense of all this data from a business perspective.  And that’s huge.

Where are you apply your technology to use cases?

One of the most valuable uses of our data is in customer care, such as telling whether or not a wireless phone is defective.  We can look at the voice performance of a handset relative to other handsets of the same model in the same network region.  And that enables us to pinpoint a device-specific issue from a network-specific one.

Now there are companies out there who capture device data by having an app resident on the device itself.  That’s fine, except that the app is likely to be embedded in, say, only 7% of the phones, which means the care reps have trouble using a solution like that because of the swivel chair issue: having to know and train on too many screens.

With a multi-probe vendor approach like ours, however, you can compare the performance of over 90% of the phone models in a region.  And covering the lion’s share of devices like that makes it cost effective to build standard processes and train agents on.

Can you give us an example or two of customer care cases where this is useful?

Well, one carrier has over 38,000 customer care reps that access the tool on a daily basis.

Now imagine if a customer calls in and the care rep has no way of knowing whether or not there’s a problem with a particular handset.  The rep might recommend a diagnostic routine with the customer on the line: “Click this, click that, and tell me what the screen says.” Or maybe you need to download some software to their device and then do 2 minutes worth of diagnostics.

So when you don‘t understand the health of a handset, it leads to some costly call handling time.

However, using our system, the operator runs a “defective handset analysis” on a regular basis so when the customer calls in, the care rep knows immediately whether the handset is the likely issue.  And this can save a few minutes in average handling time which translates to hundreds of thousands of dollars in decreased care costs.  Now, for certain specific problems, our customers claim they’ve sometimes reduced care handling by up to 35%.

Another care case is around customer disputes over mobile data overages.  Say the customer is on a 5 Gigabyte plan and he used 6 Gigabytes of data that month.  Well, many customers like that call to complain that their usage wasn‘t calculated correctly.

Now if the rep has no idea what’s driving the user’s consumption, they have no way of driving the conversation towards root cause analysis.  However, with our solution in place, you have the amount of data consumed by application and protocol.  So the care rep can then say, “May I have permission to look at the usage details on your account so I can assist you with this problem?”

And with the customer’s permission, the rep can reply: “Well, it looks like 80% of your data consumption came from the iHeart radio application.  Do you use iHeart radio?” And the customer says, “Of course, I do.  I love it and use it all the time.”

And it’s at that point where the conversation shifts because the customer has acknowledged using iHeart radio.  And this means that instead of having a frustrated customer or offering the customer a credit on his next bill, the customer figures: “If I want to continue to use iHeart radio, I should probably sign up for a bigger plan -- or make sure I’m on WiFi when I use it.”

The payback from average handling time is clear, and I also think the operator gains points by having the intelligence at its disposal to resolve the issue right away.  If you need to go back and forth — or contact the customer later on — the customer loses confidence in the carrier’s ability to execute.

Absolutely.  In fact, the challenge of delivering both these capabilities is having data available at a point where it can make a difference.

The data exists in the network.  It’s all there, but how do you resurface that information to a care rep in a timely way and ensure the rep understands it and can act on it?  That’s what we do -- take all the data and condense it down into metrics that help reduce average handle time and increase first call resolution.

Brian, thanks for the interesting use cases.  Can you sum up by telling us what makes your approach most attractive?

Well, certainly our ability to categorize the applications and websites the customer visits is one key advantage.  Second, I think, is the ability to work with any probe in the network.  And the third is that our system was designed from a business side looking back to get the data as opposed to having the data and trying to find a problem to solve.

Our carriers appreciate the fact that we didn‘t start off as a probe company.  We started out with a business focus: what data do I need to answer certain strategic questions?

Maybe that sounds like a nuance, but it actually makes a big difference because when you approach the problem from a data-source-neutral and business-specific angle, you often end up with a more robust solution that’s more actionable in terms of moving the business forward.

Copyright 2014 Black Swan Telecom Journal

 

About the Expert

Brian Jurutka

Brian Jurutka

As Senior Vice President of Mobile and Telecom at comScore, Brian consults with companies in the wireless and wireline ecosystems to provide consumer, competitor and marketplace insights, allowing clients to make critical data-driven marketing and product decisions.  As part of his role, Brian manages the comScore Mobile Sales force and key strategic relationships with major wireless carriers and Internet service providers globally.

Brian came to comScore from Capital One, where he helped expand Capital One Bank’s online Marketing and oversee various strategic partnerships.  Prior to Capital One Bank, he served in Capital One’s credit card group, managing multi-channel credit card acquisition and account management campaigns.  Brian also served in the U.S.  Navy submarine force.   Contact Brian via

Related Stories

  • Are Cloud-Based Call Centers the Next Hot Product for the SMB Market? interview with Doron Dovrat — Quality customer service can improve a company’s corporate identity and drive business growth.  But many SMBs are priced out of acquiring modern call center technology.  This article explains the benefits of affordable and flexible cloud-based call centers.
  • Driving Customer Care Results & Cost Savings from Big Data Facts interview with Brian Jurutka — Mobile broadband and today’s dizzying array of app and network technology present a big challenge to customer care.  In fact, care agents have a hard time staying one step ahead of customers who call to report problems.  But network analytics comes to the rescue with advanced mobile handset troubleshooting and an ability to put greater intelligence at the fingertips of highly trained reps.
  • Achieving Revenue Maximization in the Telecom Contact Center interview with Robert Lamb — Optimizing the contact center offers one of the greatest returns on investment for a CSP.  The director of AT&T’s contact center services business explains how telecoms can strike an “artful balance” between contact center investment and cost savings.  The discussion draws from AT&T’s consulting with world class customers like Ford, Dell, Discover Financial, DISH Network, and General Motors.
  • Bricks, Mortar & Well-Trained Reps Make a Comeback in Customer Management interview with Scott Kohlman — Greater industry competition, service complexity, and employee turnover have raised the bar in the customer support.  Indeed, complex services are putting an emphasis on quality care interactions in the store, on the web, and through the call center.  In this article you’ll learn about innovations in CRM, multi-tabbed agent portals,  call center agent training, customer treatment philosophies, and the impact of  self-service.

Related Articles

  • Pure Play NFV: Lessons Learned from Masergy’s Virtual Deployment for a Global Enterprise interview with Prayson Pate — NFV is just getting off the ground, but one cloud provider to enterprises making a stir in virtual technology waters is Masergy.  Here are lessons learned from Masergy’s recent global deployment using a NFV pure play software approach.
  • The Digital Enabler: A Charging, Self-Care & Marketing Platform at the Core of the Mobile Business interview with Jennifer Kyriakakis — The digital enabler is a central platform that ties together charging, self-care, and marketing.  The article explains why leading operators consider digital enablers pivotal to their digital strategies.
  • Delivering Service Assurance Excellence at a Reduced Operating Cost interview with Gregg Hara — The great diversity and complexity of today’s networks make service assurance a big challenge.  But advances in off-the-shelf software now permit the configuring and visualizing of services across multiple technologies on a modest operating budget.
  • Are Cloud-Based Call Centers the Next Hot Product for the SMB Market? interview with Doron Dovrat — Quality customer service can improve a company’s corporate identity and drive business growth.  But many SMBs are priced out of acquiring modern call center technology.  This article explains the benefits of affordable and flexible cloud-based call centers.
  • Flexing the OSS & Network to Support the Digital Ecosystem interview with Ken Dilbeck — The need for telecoms to support a broader digital ecosystem requires an enormous change to OSS infrastructures and the way networks are being managed.  This interview sheds light on these challenges.
  • Crossing the Rubicon: Is it Time for Tier Ones to Move to a Real-Time Analytics BSS? interview with Andy Tiller — Will tier one operators continue to maintain their quilt works of legacy and adjunct platforms — or will they radically transform their BSS architecture into a new  system designed to address the new telecom era?  An advocate for radical transformation discusses: real-time analytics, billing for enterprises, partnering mashups, and on-going transformation work at Telenor.
  • Paradigm Shift in OSS Software: Network Topology Views via Enterprise-Search interview with Benedict Enweani — Enterprise-search is a wildly successful technology on the web, yet its influence has not yet rippled to the IT main stream.  But now a large Middle Eastern operator has deployed a major service assurance application using enterprise-search.  The interview discusses this multi-dimensional topology solution and compares it to traditional network inventory.
  • The Multi-Vendor MPLS: Enabling Tier 2 and 3 Telecoms to Offer World-Class Networks to SMBs interview with Prabhu Ramachandran — MPLS is a networking technology that has caught fire in the last decade.  Yet the complexity of MPLS has relegated to being mostly a large carrier solution.  Now a developer of a multi-vendor MPLS solutions explains why the next wave of MPLS adoption will come from tier 2/3 carriers supporting SMB customers.
  • Enabling Telecoms & Utilities to Adapt to the Winds of Business Change interview with Kirill Rechter — Billing is in the midst of momentous change.  Its value is no longer just around delivering multi-play services or sophisticated rating.  In this article you’ll learn how a billing/CRM supplier has adapted to the times by offering deeper value around the larger business issues of its telecom and utility clients.
  • Driving Customer Care Results & Cost Savings from Big Data Facts interview with Brian Jurutka — Mobile broadband and today’s dizzying array of app and network technology present a big challenge to customer care.  In fact, care agents have a hard time staying one step ahead of customers who call to report problems.  But network analytics comes to the rescue with advanced mobile handset troubleshooting and an ability to put greater intelligence at the fingertips of highly trained reps.
  • Hadoop and M2M Meet Device and Network Management Systems interview with Eric Wegner — Telecom big-data in networks is more than customer experience managment: it’s also about M2M plus network and element management systems.  This interview discusses the explosion in machine-to-machine devices, the virtues and drawbacks of Hadoop, and the network impact of shrink-wrapped search.
  • The Data Center & Cloud Infrastructure Boom: Is Your Sales/Engineering Team Equipped to Win? by Dan Baker — The build-out of enterprise clouds and data centers is a golden opportunity for systems integrators, carriers, and cloud providers.  But the firms who win this business will have sales and engineering teams who can drive an effective and streamlined requirements-to-design-to-order process.  This white paper points to a solution — a collaborative solution designs system — and explains 8 key capabilities of an ideal platform.
  • Big Data: Is it Ready for Prime Time in Customer Experience Management? interview with Thomas Sutter — Customer experience management is one of the most challenging of OSS domains and some suppliers are touting “big data” solutions as the silver bullet for CEM upgrades and consolidation.  This interview challenges the readiness of big data soluions to tackle OSS issues and deliver the cost savings.  The article also provides advice on managing technology risks, software vendor partnering, and the strategies of different OSS suppliers.
  • Calculated Risk: The Race to Deliver the Next Generation of LTE Service Management interview with Edoardo Rizzi — LTE and the emerging heterogeneous networks are likely to shake up the service management and customer experience management worlds.  Learn about the many new network management challenges LTE presents, and how a small OSS software firm aims to beat the big established players to market with a bold new technology and strategy.
  • Decom Dilemma: Why Tearing Down Networks is Often Harder than Deploying Them interview with Dan Hays — For every new 4G LTE and IP-based infrastructure deployed, there typically a legacy network that’s been rendered obsolete and needs to be decommissioned.  This article takes you through the many complexities of network decom, such as facilities planning, site lease terminations, green-safe equipment disposal, and tax relief programs.
  • Migration Success or Migraine Headache: Why Upfront Planning is Key to Network Decom interview with Ron Angner — Shutting down old networks and migrating customers to new ones is among the most challenging activities a network operators does today.  This article provides advice on the many network issues surrounding migration and decommissioning.  Topics discussed include inventory reconciliation, LEC/CLEC coordination, and protection of customers in the midst of projects that require great program management skills.
  • Navigating the Telecom Solutions Wilderness: Advice from Some Veteran Mountaineers interview with Al Brisard — Telecom solutions vendors struggle mightily to position their solutions and figure out what to offer next in a market where there’s considerable product and service crossover.  In this article, a veteran order management specialist firm lays out its strategy for mixing deep-bench functional expertise with process consulting, analytics, and custom API development.
  • Will Telecoms Sink Under the Weight of their Bloated and Out-of-Control Product Stacks? interview with Simon Muderack — Telecoms pay daily for their lack of product integration as they constantly reinvent product wheels, lose customer intelligence, and waste time/money.  This article makes the case of an enterprise product catalog.  Drawing on central catalog cases at a few Tier 1 operators, the article explains the benefits: reducing billing and provisioning costs, promoting product reuse, and smoothing operations.
  • Virtual Operator Life: Enabling Multi-Level Resellers Through an Active Product Catalog interview with Rob Hill — The value of product distribution via virtual operators is immense.  They enable a carrier to sell to markets it cannot profitably serve directly.  Yet the need for greater reseller flexibility in the bundling and pricing of increasingly complex IP and cloud services is now a major channel barrier.  This article explains what’s behind an innovative product catalog solution that doubles as a service creation environment for resellers in multiple tiers.
  • Telecom Blocking & Tackling: Executing the Fundamentals of the Order-to-Bill Process interview with Ron Angner — Just as football teams need to be good at the basics of blocking and tackling, telecoms need to excel at their own fundamental skillset: the order-to-cash process.  In this article, a leading consulting firm explains its methodology for taking operators on the path towards order-to-cash excellence.  Issues discussed include: provisioning intervals; standardization and simplicity; the transition from legacy to improved process; and the major role that industry metrics play.
  • Wireline Act IV, Scene II: Packaging Network & SaaS Services Together to Serve SMBs interview with John Frame — As revenue from telephony services has steadily declined, fixed network operators have scrambled to support VoIP, enhanced IP services, and now cloud applications.  This shift has also brought challenges to the provisioning software vendors who support the operators.  In this interview, a leading supplier explains how it’s transforming from plain ol‘ OSS software provider to packager of on-net and SaaS solutions from an array of third party cloud providers.
  • Telecom Merger Juggling Act: How to Convert the Back Office and Keep Customers and Investors Happy at the Same Time interview with Alan Burgess & Curtis Mills — Billing and OSS conversions as the result of a merger are a risky activity as evidenced by famous cases at Fairpoint and Hawaiian Telcom.  This article offers advice on how to head off problems by monitoring key operations checkpoints, asking the right questions, and leading with a proven conversion methodology.
  • Is Order Management a Provisioning System or Your Best Salesperson? by John Konczal — Order management as a differentiator is a very new concept to many CSP people, but it’s become a very real sales booster in many industries.  Using electronics retailer BestBuy as an example, the article points to several innovations that can — and are — being applied by CSPs today.  The article concludes with 8 key questions an operator should ask to measure advanced order management progress.
  • NEC Takes the Telecom Cloud from PowerPoint to Live Customers interview with Shinya Kukita — In the cloud computing world, it’s a long road from technology success to telecom busness opportunity.  But this story about how NEC and Telefonica are partnering to offer cloud services to small and medium enterprises shows the experience of early cloud adoption.  Issues discussed in the article include: customer types, cloud application varieties, geographic region acceptance, and selling challenges.
  • Billing As Enabler for the Next Killer Business Model interview with Scott Swartz — Facebook, cloud services, and Google Ads are examples of innovative business models that demand unique or non-standard billing techniques.  The article shows how flexible, change-on-the-fly, and metadata-driven billing architectures are enabling CSPs to offer truly ground breaking services.
  • Real-Time Provisioning of SIM Cards: A Boon to GSM Operators interview with Simo Isomaki — Software-controlled SIM card configuration is revolutionizing the activation of GSM phones.  The article explains how dynamic SIM management decouples the selection of numbers/services and delivers new opportunities to market during the customer acquisition and intial provisoining phase.
  • A Cynic Converted: IN/Prepaid Platforms Are Now Pretty Cool interview with Grant Lenahan — Service delivery platforms born in the IN era are often painted as inflexible and expensive to maintain.  Learn how modern SDPs with protocol mediation, high availability, and flexible Service Creation Environments are delivering value for operators such as Brazil’s Oi.
  • Achieving Revenue Maximization in the Telecom Contact Center interview with Robert Lamb — Optimizing the contact center offers one of the greatest returns on investment for a CSP.  The director of AT&T’s contact center services business explains how telecoms can strike an “artful balance” between contact center investment and cost savings.  The discussion draws from AT&T’s consulting with world class customers like Ford, Dell, Discover Financial, DISH Network, and General Motors.
  • Mobile Broadband: The Customer Service Assurance Challenge interview with Michele Campriani — iPhone and Android traffic is surging but operators struggle with network congestion and dropping ARPUs.  The answer?  Direct  resources and service quality measures to ensure VIPs are indeed getting the quality they expect.  Using real-life examples that cut to the chase of technical complexities, this article explains the chief causes of service quality degradation and describes efficient ways to deal with the problem.
  • Telco-in-a-Box: Are Telecoms Back in the B/OSS Business? interview with Jim Dunlap — Most telecoms have long since folded their merchant B/OSS software/services businesses.  But now Cycle30, a subsidiary of Alaskan operator GCI, is offering a order-to-cash managed service for other operators and utilities.  The article discusses the company’s unique business model and contrasts it with billing service bureau and licensed software approaches.
  • Bricks, Mortar & Well-Trained Reps Make a Comeback in Customer Management interview with Scott Kohlman — Greater industry competition, service complexity, and employee turnover have raised the bar in the customer support.  Indeed, complex services are putting an emphasis on quality care interactions in the store, on the web, and through the call center.  In this article you’ll learn about innovations in CRM, multi-tabbed agent portals,  call center agent training, customer treatment philosophies, and the impact of  self-service.
  • 21st Century Order Management: The Cross-Channel Sales Conversation by John Konczal — Selling a mobile service is generally not a one-and-done transaction.  It often involves several interactions — across the web, call center, store, and even kiosks.  This article explains the power of a “cross-channel hub” which sits above all sales channels, interacts with them all, and allows a CSP to keep the sales conversation moving forward seamlessly.
  • Building a B/OSS Business Through Common Sense Customer Service by David West — Delivering customer service excellence doesn‘t require mastering some secret technique.  The premise of this article is that plain dealing with customers and employees is all that’s needed for a winning formula.  The argument is spelling out in a simple 4 step methodology along with some practical examples.