The first step for improving Service Quality Management is boosting your OSS
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The first step for improving Service Quality Management is boosting your OSS

All telecoms are running huge digitalization agendas, but if you ask end customers about their service satisfaction level – the picture turns a bit grim.

The most common complaints about telecoms are inadequate call center responsiveness, unsatisfactory incident response time, customers unable to get a service fee discount even after the SLA level was not met, end customers are forced to talk to regulators in order to solve completely benign problems, and many others.

Telecom wants to provide excellent service, but Operational Support Systems fall short

The situation with business customers, especially fixed ones, is often even worse. Telecom engineers that handle delivery or problem troubleshooting often have inaccurate service data and inventory information. They spend time on getting an overview of service-performing connected devices and their performance. It takes too long to resolve problems and patches are often applied instead of solutions.

After so much time and money invested into upgrading different OSS components, many telecoms still face a situation of having an inadequate OSS system, and improvement efforts are limited to a handful of technical romanticists that struggle to enhance NOC and SOC operations.

Nevertheless, managers in the telecommunication industry often fly high wanting to implement state of the art concepts such as artificial intelligence systems for customer experience management, hoping that implementing such systems will perform miracles and solve all their problems. While doing so, they often neglect that one must have a proper way to manage the network and services – something that was supposed to be resolved years ago. Unfortunately, many telecoms are still in the “first grade of elementary school” in this respect.

Five steps to providing great customer experience

Fortunately, there are great examples of telecoms that have started from the basics and rapidly evolved toward service quality management – a necessary ingredient in providing a great customer experience. What they figured out is that in order to receive their ”PhD”, they must first finish “elementary school”, and took the most logical steps possible:

  1. They implemented network resource management, and product and service catalogs: now everyone knows what service is provided to what customer and with what network resources (active, passive and logical) – although an energy and time-consuming task
  2. Consolidated fault management, event management and performance management: they know how their infrastructure really works and what is broken
  3. Implemented a decent service provisioning platform to manage end devices easily
  4. Provided their NOC and SOC with an adequate portal to minimize service and network data and performance data access times
  5. Redefined NOC/SOC standard operating procedures to become customer-centric and start tracking the most important KPI parameters

Still a long way from being “fully digitalized providers”, they gradually increased satisfaction of their customers with all the usual positive side-effects: churn caused by poor technical support got reduced and the promoter score increased, bringing the telecoms new customers by “word-of-mouth” progression.
And yes – a CTO can finally be aware of an outage in the network before the CMO. That’s one small step for an OSS and one giant leap for your telecom.

Increasing the level of technical support for better sales results

We have to be honest here: the new OSS components did not perform miracles on their own. It is still the corporate culture, organization, customer-first mindset in the CTO’s department that did the job. The OSS only enabled engineers to do the job properly, with much less stress than before. Self-motivation of technical staff automatically increased, as did the willingness to further fix and improve the OSS system.

What happened with sales? Well, good salesmen became better and happier. Their customers are more satisfied with the technical support level and perceived service quality. This allows them to do more up-sales and x-sales and spend more time selling rather than apologizing and convincing customers that the service will work fine in the future.
Sales managers are even happier. Now they can detect a false salesman’s argument of poor technical performance being the cause of not achieving his sales targets. One can easily get reports on network performance and see how well the network did.

Orchestrated operations: Integrating people and technical systems

So how do we evolve from here to a fully digitalized customer journey? In terms of OSS we have to:

  • Make customers happy with service delivery: Digitalize Service Fulfillment using a catalog-driven approach and full automation and orchestration of people and technical systems;
  • Make services run smoothly: Digitalize Service Assurance by providing the SOC with Service Quality Management including automated preemptive service degradation prevention mechanisms.

Service fulfillment orchestration and automation is all about finally modeling your delivery processes across all organization units (network construction, warehouse, field teams, service managers, etc.) and systems (service catalogue, automatic configuration server, network resource management, etc.). After implementation in a workflow system and specialized service fulfillment apps, your telecom begins a continuous process improvement by adapting to constant changes in technology, organization and new services.

Service Quality Management is a bit trickier. It requires far more domain know-how to model the services: service decomposition to essential network functions and definition of KPIs and SQIs to provide the SOC with proper alarming about service performance. Automated corrective actions such as WiFi optimization significantly improve perceived service quality and reduce the number of complaints to the call center.