CEM: Much More than just Passive Probes

CEM passive probes

As network operators continue to roll out new services, it is important to ensure that customers continue to get the same Quality of Service (QoS) and level of satisfaction that they have become accustomed to, whether it be TV, mobile or home internet.

Operators know they must focus on Customer Experience Management (CEM) in order to meet or exceed customer expectation and in doing so, increase overall customer satisfaction, and inspire loyalty and advocacy.

The role of passive probes in CEM

When measuring the detail of a customer’s end-to-end service performance, probes are the de facto choice. They are one of the most effective ways to gain some of the service performance insights, enabling real-time and historical end-to-end call tracing from the user device to the core network. In essence, they watch all the traffic that flows through the network, and filter out individual transactions to compute the service quality experienced by each call or data transfer.  They provide granular data that allows service operators to determine the service quality at a per-service (QoS) and per-user (QoE) granularity, across multiple transport technologies.


But probes can’t work in isolation

In fact, operators actually need a combination of both passive probes, active probes and classic network performance tools to get an accurate picture of the whole end-to-end service performance. Passive probes will give insights into network usage volumes, active probes will add network quality statistics, and network performance tools add the macro view which the network computes, together giving a more comprehensive picture to operators.

Operators must combine the rich data obtained from passive probes with other data feeds such as those from the network elements themselves and drive trials. This approach gives operators the information they need to not only understand the customer experience, but also drive real CEM improvements through the network. For example, operators can identify coverage blackspots which are impacting a high volume of customers, or get a better understanding of what network elements are running at maximum capacity, and how best to route traffic. By bringing multiple data feeds into a centralised network analytics platform, operators can correlate the data to obtain precise insights, of both individual experiences and the experience of the network as a whole – the Micro and Macro view of network experience.


And departments can’t work in isolation either

This is not only true of data feeds, but individual departments also; probe data and network data is still not enough to fully understand the customer experience, and must be enriched even further. CEM cannot focus solely on network performance data, nor can it focus solely on more traditional CEM metrics such as Net Promoter Score (NPS) or mean time to resolution (MTTR).  In fact CEM is such a broad term, that when considering it within the telecommunications sector, different people think of completely different goals and scope, depending where they sit in the company. Each CEM metric and measurement undoubtedly contributes to the overall customer’s experience, but their importance can vary greatly across different teams. For example:


  • Marketing: A Marketing role may consider intelligence about the customer’s retail outlook and call centre interactions as most relevant. Did the customer buy at the first visit? Which products are they interested in? Did they come to complain, or ask to change contract?
  • Customer Care: For someone working in Customer Care, customer problems and customer profiling are the most important areas of CEM. Staff are focused on first time resolution, the number of incoming call centre calls and terminal experience.
  • Head of Networks: For the head of networks, the aggregated metrics of Quality of Experience are most important, looking at dropped call rates, mobile internet speeds and geographical coverage to give a view of the quality and experience of the whole network; his/her responsibility.


Connecting all data from all touchpoints (passive probes, network equipment, in store, call centre statistics, NPS etc.) gives operators the ability to use broad intelligence to address network infrastructure issues and weaknesses, or specific customer behaviour and profile opportunities. Such actionable intelligence means CSPs can focus on what really makes a difference in customer retention and advocacy.

As the internal management data volumes and varieties in every CSP continue to grow and the requirements to act in real-time increase, the need to understand and correlate data from every source becomes a business fundamental.