Using OSS to combat churn with experience-based charging. A new case

By:
GTB Editor
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The issue of churn is one of telecom’s constants, it’s a serious problem for some carriers and even when it isn’t a ‘problem’ as such (when churn levels are low) it’s still an issue that can’t be ignored says Keith Brody, head of communications at DigitalRoute

The nature of churn is changing. The churn workflow used to be something like problem-complaint-response-churn. Now, it’s more like problem-churn. Fewer and fewer customers bother to complain when they experience a problem on their service provider’s network. They just move on to a competitor, now that it’s become sufficiently easy to do so.

For the telco, this is a difficult state of affairs and there’s only one way to address it. If you’re losing customers before you’ve even had a chance to address their complaints, then you have to find a way to react to issues proactively, without being told they exist. Doing this isn’t wishful thinking; it simply requires deploying a use case known as ‘experienced-based charging’.

While experience-based charging is fundamentally an aspect of OSS mediation (because information from the network lies at its heart), it’s actually rooted in both billing mediation and policy Control too, given that it also has one foot in the camp of charging streams. It ties together BSS and OSS information with an emphasis on having customer-problem solving decisions made close to the network source where an issue may have occurred. This enables near real-time solutions to problems to be imposed. 

This is obviously a desirable outcome, even though given limited OTT interaction we are not yet seeing experience-based charging use cases widely deployed. Yet. This will change, with the industry rapidly moving towards MEC-like scenarios with data offload close to the access. Telcos should start asking themselves some key questions now if they want to reduce churn using this approach.  For instance: What’s the best way to determine the ‘magic experience’ threshold, or what is the KPI that delineates great customer experience? 

What is ‘under the hood of experience-based charging’? Fundamentally, its purpose is to enable charging plans to be adapted to reflect estimated customer experience more or less on-the-fly. The more data sourced from the network, the more accurate the estimation is likely to be.

DR 680

When the experience is identified as unacceptable or below identified thresholds but before the customer has complained, mitigating action can be immediately taken. This might include:

Adapting a rate plan

Offering a top-up bucket

Proactively notifying subscribers of an issue or remedial action

The question of how thresholds are determined will be a matter for each individual carrier but examples might include:

Real-time threshold event notifications

Information sourced via DPI

Information sourced from analytics (such as trends and machine learning outputs)

Feedback from OTT partners

The potential benefits of experience-based charging are considerable. Happier customers equal reduced churn. Proactive problem solving equals a better customer experience. Radio and network planning may be simultaneously improved.

The experience based charging use case is a question of ‘when’, not ‘if’. It may soon become a standard weapon in the key fight against churn.