The Olympic stadia are ready, and the scene is set for the mother of all mega events, the July 2012 Olympic Games. With 8.8m tickets sold within the UK, and a further 1m to spectators from abroad, the event is expected to attract enormous crowds of visitors to the UK, including those with tickets, and those wanting to view the free events and experience the atmosphere. Items that will be travelling across continents to get to the games will no doubt include travel documents, tickets, and of course, every traveller’s lifeline to home, family and friends - their mobile devices.
Any smartphone user will confirm that their device has become an integral part of their daily life. Changing behaviour abroad is not an option, especially when most people want to keep everyone back home posted with their new pictures and status updates, direct from the source. Sending pictures, updates and tweets in real time to friends back home is all part of the fun and excitement.
A mega event, such as this, affords operators an opportunity to set themselves apart from the competition. Forward planning can create a competitive advantage and additional revenue for both the home and visited networks. To exploit the opportunities created by the Olympic Games, however, operators will need to pull out all the stops to woo and keep their subscribers.
Because the fact us that most subscribers will remain excessively cautious of voice and data usage while roaming. With tariffs often less than user friendly and no clear transparency of spending, roamers will need reassurance from their network operator that using their devices abroad will not incur phenomenal costs. And, for those unaware of the high cost of roaming, a trip to the customer care centre is most probably high on the list of things to do once they return home to bill shock.
To start, mobile operators need the ability to build the right, tailored roaming package for each of their roamers and to support these packages in their real-time billing system. Micro-segmentation is very effective in building effective campaigns based on subscriber profiles, which contain information about the roamer’s behaviour and previous roaming usage. Personal profiles and history stored in the operator’s database are matched for relevance for any future campaigns.
Roamer profiles are instrumental to operators as they enable them to leverage existing customer knowledge to send focused campaigns. These packages must then be promoted effectively if they are to succeed in encouraging roaming usage. Relying on the operator’s website may not be effective, and will not reach everyone. Communicating with subscribers when they land at their destination will certainly attract their attention.
The next step is to analyze the results of campaigns sent, recommend changes, and simulate new campaigns to optimize effectiveness and generate more usage. But let’s not stop here. To remind subscribers of available services and discounts, operators can send “awake the sleeper” campaigns to encourage mobile phone usage. These cannot be construed as spam, since the content of these wake up messages are relevant to the roamer.Operator revenue can further be increased by deploying cross-sell and up-sell campaigns and third-party offerings at the roamer’s destination.
Beyond tailored packages that enable the ultimate roaming experience, however, lies the importance of effective steering of roamers to preferred networks. Steering subscribers to preferred partners in the destination country ensures that individual roamers are provided with the best possible services suited to their roaming needs and packages. It also plays a vital role in supporting the operator’s wholesale negotiations and commitments with the VMPN (Visited Mobile Public Network). In this manner, operators can better negotiate and support special prices for their event visitors.
For a mega event to be mega successful operators must make every possible effort to provide various types of services and assistance to their subscribers – it’s a sure way to create customer stickiness. After all, travelling abroad is when roamers most need to use their devices to access local information and services. Early initiatives when planning can include the establishment of a local customer call centre, offering special content, with round-the-clock support in several languages for emergency situations, and also for general enquiries.
The Olympic Games offer excellent potential for operators to generate additional revenues. Deploying reliable and effective solutions to tackle today’s roaming challenges can be a game-changer, and separates the winners from the losers. For subscribers, transparency, real-time notifications and control over spending will instil a sense of confidence in roaming and allow them to enjoy their time abroad - and, of course, there will be no nasty surprises waiting at home when their bill arrived. Operators can enjoy an increase from direct and indirect revenues, as handsets remain on and are used more frequently due to roamers’ ability to control their roaming expenses. The opportunity is a huge one for any carrier brave enough to seize it.
Shlomo Wolfman is COO and co-founder of Starhome