In developed markets around the world, mobile operators are increasingly facing a saturated subscriber base that severely limits potential for growth. In stark contrast, emerging markets have large, untapped subscriber reservoirs, but they also see fierce competition between agile operators for extremely low average revenues per user (ARPUs).

Therefore, in every market, operators are faced with mounting pressure to retain profitable customers, and this is a challenge that must be addressed with a toolset that goes beyond traditional customer relationship management (CRM). Operators must be able to take action based on a user or segmented users’ experience and behaviour in near real-time. In short, a far more granular approach is needed when reacting to subscriber demands.

Being able to act quickly is critical; it gives operators a new means to differentiate themselves from competitors. In a fiercely competitive market, this differentiation is especially important as this hyper-competition drives down prices and makes customers more likely to base their decisions on which company offers best value.

In order to differentiate with service quality rather than price, operators must be able to make quick decisions about how to handle specific types of service-related issues. That means having access to the right data at the right time.

With the relevant data, they can enhance their understanding of the customer experience and the quality issues on an individual or customer-segmented basis, operators can compete more effectively in both developed and developing markets.

To gain access to this data in near real-time, operators need a Business Quality Management (BQM) system that will allow them to extract data from across the network and other operator’s IT systems to expose key performance and quality indicators at any given point in time. This will allow operators to tie the individual customer experience and the individual service level to the network itself, providing the ability to manage that at a customer-segmented level.

BQM is proving popular with operators because the functionality is delivered using data from the systems they already have in place, without any need to replace existing processes and systems.

Many operators are increasingly keen to feed comments made on social networking sites into their BQM systems so that they can see how online mentions correlate with their operations. With the right measurement system in place, operators can correlate Facebook comments or Tweets to unhappy customers and eventually to churn.

It’s no longer enough to measure your service quality retrospectively. Operators want to know what the perception of their business is in near real-time. By creating dashboards that quickly show trends in perception, action can be taken before the issue gets out of control.

BQM has the capability to tailor and customise the performance and quality indicators it collects for a specific audience. A customer service professional will require different data to a network engineer, or a manager of a network roll-out project, and BQM is able to easily extract and correlate the relevant data accordingly.

One of the most important attributes of BQM is the ability it gives operators to be more proactive. It can help them to retain customers by responding to potential issues much faster. The statistics BQM collects from the variety of systems and processes within the business are correlated and presented at many different levels to bring the different statistics needed together to deliver business quality KPIs.

BQM’s functionality doesn’t stop at service quality management and mitigating customer dissatisfaction in near real-time. It can also be applied across the entire operator business to manage internal operations as well as the performance of managed services providers.

Another benefit lies in the infrastructure management side of the operator business. Not only can BQM uncover the true customer experience of network capacity issues, but it can also identify the root cause and that’s its true value proposition. Once the metrics are being obtained across the business, operators can see how the business is performing and see where processes or thresholds can be modified to improve the overall customer experience.

That functionality is also applicable to operators that have engaged managed services providers to run parts of their operations, such as network roll-out and field services. Using a BQM system, operators can ensure that their own service level agreements (SLAs) are being met, even if the SLA is for a part of their business that is being run by a managed services provider. Acquiring a greater and timelier insight of their business performance in all areas will give operators the data that they need to make service quality a true differentiator.