In this, my final post for the four-part “Automate, Collaborate, Empower — Maximizing the RAN's Value Through Coverage Maps” series, I'd like to focus on how coverage maps that include RAN intelligence enhance customer care. To date, I've covered the challenges of generating coverage maps, from the heavy resource requirements to the potential lag and short life span of the information. I reviewed how automation can improve not only the efficiency of coverage map generation, but also its effectiveness in conveying information to key business stakeholders, such as executive management, through web-based interfaces. All of this is, of course, the focus of our product, Mentum Fusion.
Customer care is often the first line of defense when it comes to issues within the radio access network (RAN). Subscribers may experience service-impacting issues, such as call drops on the road while en route to the office or be limited in accessing data while at home. Similar to executive management, customer care also requires accurate and up-to-date information about the RAN and the various changes in configuration that impact subscriber experience. Easy and direct access to this level of information makes the job of customer care more efficient and improves subscriber satisfaction, which means less churn for the wireless operator.
Let us explore a typical example of a subscriber who calls into customer care to report a service issue. The customer care representative attempts to resolve the problem as follows:
- Based on RAN coverage map information, the representative determines if there is service coverage availability where the issue occurred.
- Next, the representative looks into service-impacting events for the area, including network outages and performance problems that are represented on the most current Web-based coverage map.
- The representative may note that there are no service-impacting events but the load on the cell covering the area in question is saturated. There is little to no air interface capacity.
- The representative pulls up a view showing network expansion plans for the affected area and then tells the subscriber when those plans are likely to be executed.
- The subscriber now understands the issue, has seen that the operator has a proactive response plan and has an expectation for when full service will be available.
It may turn out that there is no service availability in the area where the issue occurred for this subscriber, in which case the customer care representative could inform the subscriber of future plans for extending coverage. This approach provides the subscriber with confidence that the wireless operator is competent and proactive, and may prevent the subscriber from switching to another provider. It also sets expectations to improve the subscriber's satisfaction.
These benefits are why it's wise to provide customer care representatives with this level of information. It's equally important to ensure that information is accurate and up-to-date, or the subscriber's expectations may not be met or they may not be told correct information (e.g. they have coverage when in fact they don't). In our example above, if the plans for expansion were not available or the expansion implementation date had been moved to an earlier date, yet those details were not available to the representative, the subscriber may decide to switch providers.
Typically, with manual coverage map production, the coverage is out of date in terms of the actual network, resulting in decreased subscriber satisfaction. There is very limited information on future plans available to customer care representatives, which means they are unable to help subscribers recognize that services will improve. Lastly, manual production is naturally error prone. Often these manually-generated maps are very high-level, without the necessary granularity to be useful in a customer care situation, as described.
For these reasons, a solution like Mentum Fusion best addresses the needs of customer care by automating coverage map generation and enabling the wireless operator to:
- Provide more information to stakeholders with greater granularity
- Ensure the information is kept up-to-date with the current network configuration
- Synchronize RAN information, such as network configuration data, with planning data
- Reduce time and effort to compile network information and generate the maps
- Rapidly distribute the information by automating the publication to the web
- Make the information widely available and easily available through Web-based access
- Ensure multiple stakeholders within the wireless operator can use the information to improve their decision making and communications
The coverage map is a critical asset used by wireless operators, and is integral to effective decision making. Through the implementation of these best practices, the operator is best positioned to maximize the value of their RAN, and, in turn, ensure the highest level of customer satisfaction and quality of experience.