By Ari Vänttinen, CMO, Comptel

When it comes to reaching today’s mobile customer, telcos have to narrow their field of vision.

In the past, they might have prioritised print ads and television commercials that would target the widest possible audience.

Mobile service offerings, meanwhile, remain mostly cookie cutter.

Customers pick a small, medium or large package, with a few add-on options available.

Today’s consumers want to be treated by brands as individuals, and approached in a personalised and meaningful way.

They also want the freedom to customise service terms based on individual needs.

The mobile experience is part of the reason why.

When you buy a phone or tablet and start to download apps or subscribe to services, you’re effectively creating a personal digital ecosystem.

We become attached to our devices. Each device serves its own purpose, each app supports a specific part of life, and each service is there for a reason.

We don’t want companies signing us up for services or apps we don’t need, and we demand full control over everything that happens on our devices.

In this new reality, the role of the mobile operator is to provide tools, then get out of the way.

Feed customers with the information they need to make a decision, present attractive options, and engage with them in a personalised way. Then, let them make the decision.

But that’s not the way it works today.

A recent survey of 2,000 mobile data users in the US and the UK found that while 55 percent of mobile data customers are eager to receive more proactive, personalised alerts and offers – such as receiving a text when they aren't taking advantage of certain parts of their plan, or being notified when they are using a lot of data in areas where public Wi-Fi is available – only 13 percent report ever having experienced that kind of communication from their carrier.

Worse still, 52 percent of respondents said they actually feel they are treated as a nameless customer by their provider.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

It’s easier than ever for an operator to reach out to customers and make them feel valued.

Mobile operators simply have to make smarter use of their most important asset – customer usage data.

The role of data and AI

Customer usage data is the lifeblood of personalisation, as it provides insight into each customer’s experience with their operator.

Artificial intelligence now enables telcos to automate how quickly they can learn from and take action on this information.

Consider the example of a customer who, according to data usage trends, uses Netflix more than any other app.

At the same time, the trends show this customer has reached about 97 percent of his data threshold with just three days remaining this cycle.

Clearly, this customer likes watching streaming videos – so why not send an offer for a data package that includes unlimited Netflix access the next time he opens that app?

Better yet, send that offer the moment the customer reaches 97 percent, warning that data is likely to run out in the middle of a binge watching session, and that it’d be smart to upgrade now to avoid throttling.

AI enables this type of engagement.

It allows operators to analyse real-time usage and customer behaviours, then automates actions (ie, an offer) based on triggers.

AI’s immediacy enables instant gratification that operators can’t offer through manual campaigns.

It also allows operators to draw more value from existing customer data, driving contextually relevant engagements.

Intelligence fuels service, revenue opportunities

The aforementioned Netflix offer is far more personalised than a generic sponsored data package that is marketed to every subscriber.

The urgency and relevance of the offer make it far more likely to be successful – this avid Netflix users is notified about an offer they’re likely to care about, at the exact moment when their interest is likely to be at its peak.

How do we know it will be more successful? Because customers are asking for it.

In that same survey, 75 percent of consumers said they want to be notified if and when a new plan that might interest them becomes available.

At the same time, two out of three respondents said they want more proactive communications from their carriers.

Still, only 48 percent of respondents believe their current carrier provides services that are customised to their needs.

That’s clearly a missed opportunity for operators, who have a chance to reach customers with specific offers and unique service packages that can not only drive short-term revenue higher, but also nurture happier long-term customers.

Personalisation is still very much in its infancy, yet it is what consumers crave most.

These numbers are just a few that paint a picture of the current landscape and show that opportunity is staring mobile telecom operators right in the face.

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