April 29, 2014

Making Service Assurance Customer-Centric

Delivering better customer experience requires Communications Service Providers (CSPs) to take a customer-centric approach to service assurance.

Customer perception is the ultimate and most important judge of service. It is impacted by measurable factors such as availability, performance, usability, and security. Regardless, monitoring and managing quality of service (QoS) on a per-customer level can present a complex challenge for CSPs. To reduce churn and increase customer experience, CSPs must adopt a customer-centric service assurance approach, monitoring customer service quality rather than network performance.

Customer Experience Management is becoming increasingly complicated due to the growing complexity of IP-based services and the impact that those services, as well as the hundreds of applications available on intelligent devices, can have on the network and customer experience. In this environment, delivering better customer experience requires a new approach to service assurance that gives Communications Service Providers (CSPs) and their customers the same view of service performance.

Challenges with a Network-Centric Approach

CSPs have been using service assurance systems to monitor service quality for many years, though traditional service assurance systems usually support only a network-centric approach, monitoring network performance rather than service quality on a per-customer basis. This network-centric approach means that CSPs often have difficulty determining which customers have been affected by network events so that they may struggle to prioritize issues based on how they impact high-value customers. Relatedly, with a customer-centric view, CSPs will struggle to communicate problems and fixes to customers proactively. Service level agreements (SLAs) also can make matters more complicated because , business customers require CSPs to support the service quality, reliability and availability levels represented in their contracts.   

3 Characteristics that Make Service Assurance Customer-Centric

According to TM Forum, service quality is a key area where CSPs can differentiate themselves from competitors because of its overall impact on customer experience. Further research carried out by Analysys Mason revealed that service quality issues are responsible for 40 percent of customer churn among CSPs. Given the importance of customer perception and customers’ rising expectations regarding quality and visibility into service performance and SLA adherence, it has become necessary for CSPs to shift their service assurance practices to customer-centric models. Here are three capabilities that are necessary for making service assurance customer-centric.

Simplified SLA & QoS Definition for Each Customer: Customer-centric service assurance enables CSPs to define SLAs and QoS on an individual basis, depending on specific customer preferences and needs. Being able to offer customized SLAs not only increases customer loyalty, but also makes winning new business easier and motivates existing customers to renew their contracts.

Near Real-time Quality Management and Monitoring: Customer-centric service assurance also allows customers to monitor and manage service quality and SLA compliance in near real-time. Customers should have the ability to monitor service performance through a user-friendly self-service portal.

Rapid Root Cause Identification and Value-Based Actions: Finally, CSPs should possess the ability to uncover root causes and respond preemptively to service performance issues, prioritize remedial actions according to a customer’s value to the business, and interact with customers at the right time to improve problem resolution and overall satisfaction. This means that service assurance processes should be integrated with other CSP systems and processes, such as CRM, fulfillment, and billing.

A customer-centric approach allows service providers to identify a customer’s actual service experience, respond preemptively to service issues, and prioritize issues according to the customer value to the business. With this information, service providers can deliver a differentiated customer experience, reduce churn and improve profitability.

Photo by AFS-USA Intercultural Programs with Creative Commons license


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