by Siddharth “Sid” Mehra, Director, Solutions Engineering, OnProcess Technology

As I look back at 2014 and analyze the key trends we saw in the cable and broadband industry one particular theme stands out clearly, like an emergency flare zipping across a clear sky. You’ve probably already figured out what I’m alluding to. A lot has been spoken, written, blogged, tweeted, Vined and Tumblred (ok, no laughing at the back there!) about the customer experience debacles associated with the industry over the past year and what must be done to fix them.

Unfortunately a lot of the suggested fixes (onshore customer service, simplified pricing, appointing a Chief Customer Officer, etc.) are traditional, reactive and at best temporary panacea. None address the root cause and not one provides a single solution that is transformative for the industry.

Think of some of the best customer service experiences you’ve had in the recent past, there’s a high likelihood it was either with a hotel, online retailer or a grocery chain. There are a bunch of customer experience rating indices out there and these industries almost always rate highly regardless of the index or scoring mechanism used. So what’s the common driver? What are these guys doing that’s resulting in customer delight and not just customer satisfaction?

The Answer – Big Data and Proactive Service

Most online retailers already use your cookies and browsing history to offer promotions and discounts on products you may be interested in.  Grocery chains carry out targeted campaigns based on your loyalty card and credit card usage and coupon redemption patterns. Hotel chains have been leading the proactive service approach for decades now with customer profile and preference data which is shared across their properties. The cable and broadband industry has leveraged this approach with Pay-per-view coupons and targeted premium channels and product offers. However this is the vanilla approach, there’s really nothing new to see here.

Imagine being able to head these issues off at the pass, the ability to know which customers need attending to not only from an equipment perspective but also from a pricing or package perspective and then personalizing the customer event to suit that customer

The real value lies in the next wave of service which is Predictive Analytics. You’ve already read about how Amazon is planning to ship certain products to warehouses closer to customers who they feel will order them based on their buying history and predictive modeling. Grocery chains are following their lead; the use of Bluetooth beacons (now a standard with every smartphone) is going to facilitate sending reminders and deals to customers for products on their shopping list and even based on their footfall pattern within the store. The future of customer service is hyper-personalized and predictive.

So how can the cable and broadband industry leverage these best practices? The general perception is that the industry is reactive and has a whack-a-mole approach to customer service issues. The reality is that the cavalry has already started to arrive (emergency flare/cavalry get it?). Most MSOs already have mountains of machine data and almost all of them have either invested or are investing in customer success or customer experience platforms. As an organization that focuses on customer experience initiatives we saw a 400% increase in proactive triage engagements in 2014— all driven off machine data. The goal is not just to identify and fix issues but also to determine thresholds where the customer may perceive an issue. It’s not just about making sure your equipment works, MSOs now want to ensure that it works at optimum levels. All the time. A lot of these fixes can also be achieved without ever having to involve the customer at all through remote fixes and plant maintenance.

Customer Example – One of the nation’s largest cable and broadband service providers

Chart 1: 150k Issues resolved by remote troubleshooting with a 25% resolution rate. That’s 150k fewer calls into customer care and unhappy customers.

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Proactive customer service is a great start for the industry and has remained a popular option through Q1 in 2015. I see this continuing through the year with refinements to existing processes and approaches. The next logical step, though, is the most exciting and a true game changer. We have all the machine data and the customer experience platform data, we have reports which demarcate thresholds at which customer perceive issues and several data and correlation points. Combining all this information with data science, predictive modeling and geocoding can give the MSO the ability to not only predict which customers are likely to have a service event in the near future but also predict which customers may generate an inbound communication into customer care with issues.

Imagine being able to head these issues off at the pass, the ability to know which customers need attending to not only from an equipment perspective but also from a pricing or package perspective and then personalizing the customer event to suit that customer. That is where the industry needs to go and is in the process of doing so.

After all, the more you know about your customer, the better you will be able to serve them.

OnProcess Technology has been at the forefront of leveraging predictive analytics to enhance customer experience programs for a few years now. Our analytics team of mathematicians, statisticians and data scientists has been able to create and demonstrate significant predictive lift in several customer experience metrics including churn, service calls, customer communications and returns.  This is supported by a bespoke customer handling strategy that may or may not involve communicating with a customer.  We’re committed to making disruptive and transformative changes in the cable and broadband industry and every other vertical we support. This is the future, whether you are ready for it or not.

How is your organization leveraging predictive analytics? Let us know by leaving a comment below or joining our discussion on LinkedIn.