Customer experience management solutions – The pros and cons of network tools vs. IT tools

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With mobile network operators investing heavily in customer experience management solutions, we ask; is it better to use the foundations of a network management tool or an IT tool to manage CEM?


The telecommunications industry is no stranger to Customer Experience Management (CEM). Mobile network operators are looking at multiple churn reduction strategies, and CEM is at the top of the list. Successful CEM promises excellent returns for operators, with the likes of Turkcell reporting a 17% increase in NPS and a 20% decrease in customer complaints after re-hauling their CEM strategy.

The benefits are clear to see, but how can operators actually manage the customer experience on a day-to-day basis? And what tools can they use to do so?


Customer Experience Management Pain Points

For operators, CEM offers a vast range of challenges which must be overcome before it can be truly successful. There are a number of key pain points that are appearing time and time again:

  • The whole business culture needs to change to put the customer first, requiring a shift in focus from management, a new department and roles, new tools, and new targets.
  • The required process crosses departments and skills, requiring new communication channels within the organisation.
  • Operators have reams of network and assurance data, but it isn’t organised around the customer, and doesn’t say where customer satisfaction is suffering.
  • When customers do complain, engineers have to go in and out of different systems to find the root cause of a problem – it’s too slow and expensive.


The changing requirements of Customer Experience Management Solutions

Traditionally, mobile network operators have used a whole host of tools to support provisioning, billing, customer care, marketing and network optimisation. Different departments have used specialist solutions to meet their individual needs, however very few of these actually span more than one or two functions. With the up-rise in importance of CEM, these point solutions are no longer fit for purpose.

In the telecoms industry, there are a range of customer experience management solutions available on the market. However, very few of these solutions actually started life solely as CEM tools. Instead the traditional tools have been developed and refined to meet CEM needs, following two core approaches;

  1. Taking an IT management tool and developing it into a CEM tool.
  2. Taking a network management tool and developing it into a CEM tool.


The pros and cons of network tools vs. IT tools

There are two key segments in which most big data tools can be found in a mobile network operator;

  • IT: Tool sets include team management solutions, trouble ticketing solutions and customer relationship management solutions.
  • Networks: Network tools cover OSS and BSS, including performance management and service assurance solutions.

On initial thought, IT tools may seem like the best approach, since they already have customer details and trouble ticketing information. However, what else is there to consider?

Multiple data feeds into one centralised system

Most CEM initiatives will require multiple data feeds to be centralised into one system, to allow for data correlation and trend analysis. Traditional IT tools will already be set up with customer data, however are not designed to take in more than a handful of data streams. Network tools however, are usually designed to take data from multiple sources, therefore are better adept for this.

Real-time data availability

To make effective use of the multiple data feeds going into the software, a number of these will be needed in as near real-time as possible. Both IT tools and network tools offer varying levels of ‘real-time’ ranging from 15 minutes to 5 seconds. An effective CEM system will need to be as close to real-time as possible, for 10’s if not 100’s of data feeds, therefore must have the power and capacity to handle this.

Big data visualisation functionality

Of course, to really gain valuable and actionable insights from all this data, operators require customer experience management solutions with advanced visualisation functionality. Network tools really stand out here, since visualisation is key when it comes to managing the masses of big data created from each network element. This functionality enables operators to visualise the customer experience geographically, see peaks and troughs in social media mentions and sentiment and easily see the network performance for VIP customers to name but of few use cases.


Monitoring such volumes of data regarding customer session KPIs, linking customer issues with network issues, capacity issues, etc. cannot be achieved solely with smart visualisation. The automation of monitoring of each session, SLA breaches, degradations, and negative trends is required. CEM tools must offer a complex range of automated intelligence, such as root cause analysis, service impact analysis, SLA breach detection, KPI trend monitoring. This analysis should be available at all levels of granularity, such as national, regional, per technology or vendor, by radio cell or CPE, handset type, and customer. This intelligence must be actioned upon automatically, whether it is with an alert, or a trouble ticket, or a policy change.

The right customer experience management solutions

It is clear to see there are a number of considerations when selecting the most appropriate customer experience management solution. The solution must be able to handle multiple data feeds, have real-time functionality for these, offer advanced visualisation, and ideally be equipment vendor agnostic. SysMech’s Zen has been adapted to meet both the network and CEM requirements of tier 1 operators, leading the way in improved quality of experience for customers.


Want to learn more about CEM? Request a copy of our upcoming expert opinion article;

“The network is the true path to differentiation through CEM”