Traditionally, operators have forced subscribers to assume a different avatar when roaming outside of their home country. This inhibits utilisation of a whole host of office tools, productivity tools, and applications that the subscriber would have used in their home country.
When roaming, subscribers now view mobile phones as an expensive luxury indulgence, instead of a powerful business tool that provides constant connectivity. The usage pattern often ends up pointing to a judicious utilisation of the mobile device and at times is cannibalised by the consumer buying local prepaid services. The level of customer experience and inconvenience is phenomenal, especially around managing multi-country SIMs, top-ups, and multiple numbers. This further provides an opportunity for mobile operators to create a new market segment the traveller and offer services that are tailored to their specific travel needs.
On the business side of the customer base, there is a certain market that is untapped with bundling roaming friendly plans (voice and data) along with a commitment of a specific volume of revenue spending, thereby removing any business inhibitors and making communication (video or data) a friendly experience.
Ultimately, operators need to start thinking about customer needs and how they can add value to the customer mobile experience when abroad. Operators can capitalise on these opportunities by making use of customer intelligence. The ability to create roaming data bundles, and offer them to customers via SMS when they arrive at their holiday destinations, is one way to boost uptake of data services. There are other actions operators and their partners can take to encourage their customers to buy-in to roaming data for example, offering cut-price smartphone applications for translations and currency conversions or providing online weather reports.
The data to inform what applications or bundles get offered to whom can be gleaned from the customer data telecom operators already possess all that is needed is a layer of intelligence to identify the key trends in customer behaviour, and the ability to develop and launch new services on the back of it without delay.This data, when used in a real-time environment to recognise immediate needs of customers, can add real value to the customer experience - providing that wow factor to build subscriber loyalty, enabling operators to unlock far greater returns. In a global world where geographical boundaries are blurred, communication infrastructure cannot continue to be a hindrance to the travelling business executive and consumer.
By embracing customer needs and using existing customer intelligence that is readily available, mobile operators can replace any perceived potential financial losses from cost caps and build a greater depth of loyalty from their user base, delivering benefits for all both at home and abroad.
Prakash Sadagopan is director, product marketing, Asia-Pacific, Convergys.
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