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Alcatel-Lucent turns spotlight on customer satisfaction

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Alcatel-Lucent is convinced that customer experience (CX) and customer experience management are about to become top priorities for Pay TV and broadband service providers in an increasingly competitive landscape. Noting a shift in boardroom thinking that means that some executive salaries are now tied to customer experience measures, and predicting an increase in titles like Customer Experience Officer (CXO) or Senior VP of Customer Experience, the company says there is now recognition that this function is becoming a critical element in business strategy.

Customer experience is, as you might expect, the process of managing the experience that a consumer has at all the different touch points between them and the service provider, encompassing networks, devices and applications. As a result it encompasses nearly every part of the business from network quality and reliability to installation of customer premise equipment to ongoing customer care. And it is something service providers are increasingly willing to talk about publicly, and even use for consumer marketing.

According to Ben Geller, Senior Director, Solutions Marketing at Alcatel-Lucent, the service provider market has reached an inflection point that is increasing the importance of customer experience. “There is more competition,” he explains. “For the best part of the last decade the business models have been centred on acquiring market share. It was a land-grab. Now markets are starting to flatten out so there is a strategic shift from subscriber acquisition to keeping what you have and getting more value from them.

“If you dig below the surface there is recognition that the traditional levers of competition are no longer adequate,” Geller continues. “Until now, one of the levers was the strength of your network, like its security and reliability, and another was how deep and robust your product portfolio was, in terms of services offered, but these are beginning to look the same over time. Cable companies offer telephony and telcos sell video services. AT&T were the only mobile provider offering the iPhone but now everyone has the iPhone. So you cannot depend on product differentiation now. The third lever was price but that is not enough to guarantee loyalty.”

So with less opportunities to differentiate and growth becoming harder in maturing markets, Alcatel-Lucent believes that customer experience is the next battleground. That explains the announcement this week that the company is expanding its CX solutions portfolio, under the Motive brand name, to provide more provisioning, optimisation, analytics and consulting capabilities to help operators meet their increasingly well-defined CX goals.

The company says Motive CX Management is focused on getting new devices, applications and services up and running quickly, by simplifying their introduction on the network, managing upgrades and service modifications, and providing a consistent, low-hassle experience for customers. Motive CX Analytics provides monitoring tools that track the performance of the devices, applications and services running on the network. These tools, which leverage unique algorithms
developed by Bell Labs, provide key insights and dashboards that infer overall customer experience and allow for detailed customer experience insights.

Alcatel-Lucent says its Motive CX Optimization solution “empowers communications service providers to provide their customers with the best service experience possible while making better use of network capacity.” Using historical data about customers, devices, applications and the network, service providers can examine trends, experiences and usage patterns, segmented by types of users, and take accurate and proactive actions with yield management and loyalty.

CX Consulting consists of a dedicated team that uses a patent-pending methodology to identify opportunities to improve customer experience touch points within an organisation. The consulting service falls outside the Motive brand and is technology-agnostic. As part of this expertise, Alcatel-Lucent can benchmark how well service providers are performing against their CX vision, measuring key indicators.

As we report elsewhere, the research and consulting company Ovum has been highlighting the growing importance of customer experience. Jonathan Doran, Principal Analyst, Consumer, at Ovum says: “This is an area where many triple-play operators have struggled to deliver, as they become stretched beyond their core competencies. We have argued for some time that as fixed broadband and telephony become increasingly commoditized, and video content offerings become more numerous and therefore less differentiated, the competitive battleground is shifting further away from the services per se, and more towards enhancing and optimizing the user experience.”

Ben Geller says CX impacts every part of the business and the Motive CX solutions can be justified individually to the ‘owner’ of the IPTV service (by increasing right-first-time STB installations for example), to the ‘owner’ of the call centre (by reducing the number of calls to the help desk, for example), and to the ‘owner’ of the network (by improving performance in the last mile, for example). The combined benefits make the case for improved CX management at the CEO level, he adds.

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