How telcos can gain an edge by empowering customers

Consistency is imperative.
Business, Customer, Empowerment, Service, Tech, Telco, Middle East

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Experience an outage? Service can’t scale to meet demand? Suffer a cyber-attack? These events can severely harm the reputation and business of a telecom service provider, says Mohammed Al-Moneer.

As an industry, we have the tendency to get caught up in the speeds and feeds. How fast is a service delivered? How much data can we cram in a pipe at a single time? What are the packets per second?

And while fast is good, consistent is better. Think of it this way: it’s better to have a slower connection that is available 99.999 percent of the time than it is to have an ultra-fast connection available just 50 percent of the time.

Consistency wins. And in the always-on, digital, connected world, consistency is the norm and therefore goes unnoticed. It’s inconsistency that gets the headlines.

But how do you employ a set of consistent services? Here are four steps to service consistency:

- Start internally: Ensure your network and security policies are enforced consistently across data centres and clouds and that they can be centrally managed from a single location. This ensures that your services are being delivered consistently regardless of where they live.

- Ensure your infrastructure can scale: Consistent service delivery requires around-the-clock availability. That means your services can’t slow down during peak demand. Having a hybrid infrastructure where cloud bursting is an option — sending traffic to the cloud when the data centre gets overloaded — can ensure a seamless service experience for your customers without breaking the bank.

- Focus on security: A DDoS attack or any kind of breach can cause massive disruption. Ensure your network is protected from multi-vector DDoS attacks and other threats, such as malware that hides out in SSL encrypted traffic. Being proactive about security and mitigating threats as they arise will ensure your services are delivered consistently and unfettered.

- Converge services: Service providers can harness the power of services consolidation and automation to drive operational efficiency. Network architectures that build on optimization and consolidation are key to achieving service continuity and a seamless user experience.
You want your applications to be delivered smoothly and uninterrupted. You want consistency. Following these steps will help you get there.

Customer empowerment is another major component of modern service provider success. It’s a part of customer satisfaction that is rarely talked about. Why? Because there’s a desire to be needed by a customer; and when they’re empowered to do things themselves, there’s a perception that service providers are no longer indispensable.

But it’s actually quite the opposite. When you implement or enhance the self-service capabilities you offer, you give your customers the freedom to tune services to meet their specific needs.

Putting that control into the customers’ hands has powerful benefits.

Reduce support volume

First, giving your customers the ability to use services how they want means you don’t have to do it for them. That equals fewer calls, fewer emails and fewer chats. That means less hours spent tuning customer services, and more time spent on other imperative customer service activities.

Save money

Fewer support calls cuts costs. Instead of paying techs and support staff to manually tune each customer’s specific service demands, you can put resources toward improving your offerings, speeding your time to market and beating your competition. You not only save money on support staff, but the money you do spend is no longer being dumped into a cost center and instead is being put toward innovation and differentiation.

Enable personalisation

Modern architectures like software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualisation (NFV) empower you to offer more personalised services to customers, which leads to deeper subscriber and application awareness. Automating the ability to create customised and personalised services on a per-subscriber and per-application basis ensures customers have a consistent experience while you can have a service offering that’s a key differentiator.

Increase customer satisfaction

A happy customer stays a customer. No one has ever left a service provider because they’re happy with the service and they are satisfied. Empowering the customer through self-service puts them in the driver’s seat and gives them control. That plus not having to wait on endless support calls to accomplish a seemingly simple task will keep your customers happy, and keep you happy as well.

Those are just some of the ways empowering your customers can improve your business as a service provider.

Mohammed Al-Moneer is director of the MENA region at A10 Networks.

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