This blog post is by Iris Heinonen, head of innovation marketing at Nokia Siemens Networks.
Every day brings a new social media record. Whether it’s 80,000 tweets and facebook posts in 5 minutes after a Yankee’s home run or 116,000 tweets per minute during the Spice Girls performance in London this summer, social media are turning major events into global conversations on a massive scale.
When events like the U.S. presidential debate generate 10.3 million tweets, there is no doubt about the reach and influence of social media. And with mobile broadband subscriptions outnumbering fixed broadband subscriptions 2:1, a fast growing percentage of social media traffic is mobile. The implications for operators, measured in risks and opportunities, are clear.
First the risks. If something goes wrong, social media can magnify and amplify the problem, turning a small local problem into a global incident. In some countries consumer watchdogs are even asking people to use social media to communicate their bad experience and share it with others. One-third of 18-24-year-old consumers already prefer public methods of complaint, and high influencers in social media can generate a flood of bad publicity.
Here’s a recent example of what happens when social media overpowers the network. A twitter surge during a cycling road race prevented the mobile network from handling the transmission of live race times. Twitter took up so much bandwidth that the GPS electronics on the athlete’s bikes, which were using the mobile broadband network, were unable to update times during the race, and reporters were reduced to using their own watches to estimate the race standings. Onlookers were then told to stop using Twitter on their mobiles, which generated yet another surge of tweets, many of them blasting the operator, whose reputation took a hard hit. Unfortunately the organizer had neglected to inform the operator that they would be using the operator’s network for race timing, so there was no way they could prepare for the surge that resulted.
But the opportunities of social media outweigh the risks. By using all the advantages of social media operators can make their customer relationships deeper, more enduring and more profitable.
This is more important than ever today as the number of smartphones continues to grow. The potential of these feature-rich phones to drive up mobile broadband revenue has been undercut by a sharp increase in acquisition and retention costs. In some cases, these costs account for almost half of operator revenues. This trend is not sustainable and even a small decrease in churn would have a direct impact on operator EBITDA.
There are already successful examples of operators interacting with their customers through social media, and some operators are starting to integrate their customer care with social media feeds. Telus in Canada has even said that they plan to be the first operator in Canada to use social media to get off the list of Canadian companies offering the “worst customer service.”
One of our customers was able to reduce churn in a targeted segment from 10% to 1% in 3 just months, by using existing insight and contacting customers at risk for churn through social channels. This was the first time their marketing department had real-time access to network insight, which they used to identify unhappy customers and take action to reduce churn.
Identifying social media influencers and treating their as high value customers is another opportunity. We have a customer who has implemented a solution that lets them resolve the service issues of high value customers even before they contact customer care. As a result, they have raised their revenue by 17m €, and are set to achieve a revenue increase of 50m€ in just one year.
So, opportunities abound. What if social media could help operators optimize their networks based on real customer experience instead of network KPIs? What if social media could help marketing, customer care and operations share the same 360° view of their customers, including the social media reach and influence of their subscribers.
One important advantage would be to bridge the commonly occurring disconnect between network KPIs and the customer perception of their experience, which is sometimes as high as 46%. Social media could bridge this disconnect and help operators focus investments based on their subscribers’ input on social media, as well as their traditional sources of information about customer satisfaction and customer value. This would be innovating for a world in motionTM, which is what we are doing at Nokia Siemens Networks.
Where do you see the opportunities of social media to enhance the customer experience?
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