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Delivering superior customer experiences in the 5G era: three key assurance cornerstones

Anil Rao Principal Analyst, Research

"To achieve a superior level of customer experience, network and service assurance must take a dominant role in CSPs' customer experience strategies."

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Delivering superior customer experiences in the 5G era: three key assurance cornerstones

The extremely high competition in the mature telecommunications market, coupled with an intensifying race to launch 5G, means that communications service providers (CSPs) must increase their focus on delivering superior customer experiences in order to gain competitive differentiation, retain existing business and win new customers. A study by Analysys Mason showed that CSPs had very similar Net Promoter Scores (NPSs) to players in the highly commoditised utilities and transport industries. This is not a good sign for CSPs that want to be perceived as digital service providers and compete against digital-native web-scale companies. CSPs must at least match the level of customer experience provided by these web-scale players in order to increase their chances of improving their NPS.

CSPs must recalibrate their customer experience strategies to tackle the increasing network complexity as they embark on various network transformation initiatives such as network function virtualisation (NFV), software-defined networking (SDN) and 5G. This complexity will be further compounded by consumers’ growing expectations for real-time on-demand experiences. The digital services that CSPs hope to offer to consumers and businesses will also introduce another level of complexity. It is vital that CSPs implement the following three assurance strategies in order to continue to deliver a superior customer experience and to improve their NPS (even as they execute new strategic initiatives).

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It is vital that CSPs implement the following three assurance strategies in order to continue to deliver a superior customer experience and to improve their NPS (even as they execute new strategic initiatives).

  • Evolve the network operations centre (NOC) into a service operations centre (SOC) or develop a standalone SOC to gain end-to-end visibility of the customer experience and the underlying network performance, and abstract network and service complexity.
  • Implement machine learning and artificial intelligence (ML/AI) where applicable to develop algorithms for pattern recognition, anomaly detection and the prediction of degradations in network performance, service quality and customer experience, and to suggest resolutions days or weeks before the customer experience is affected.
  • Link automated assurance systems and processes with network orchestration systems to drive closed-loop automation.

These cornerstones will become even more important in the 5G era, in which CSPs will increasingly make use of virtualisation, cloud, edge computing and network slicing. To achieve a superior level of customer experience, network and service assurance must take a dominant role in CSPs’ strategies. CSPs must use a multitude of data sources across the network, enhance their end-to-end view in the SOC and empower automated assurance with real-time capabilities by incorporating ML/AI solutions.