How a new approach to SIM provisioning helps

How a new approach to SIM provisioning helps

Stuart Cochran
Stuart Cochran

Stuart Cochran, chief technology officer at Evolving Systems, discusses how operators can improve their dialogue with customers through better SIM provisioning.

Today, many operators in leading Western European countries have blended churn rates of over 30% a year. In an increasingly competitive telecoms environment, they need to prioritise reducing these rates and one of the most effective ways to do this is by engaging more closely with customers.  

Recent research into the views of prepaid mobile phone subscribers across the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain highlights the risk for operators that fail to offer personalised services. An Evolving Systems survey found that at least half of respondents in all of these countries, rising to 62% in Italy and Spain and 55% in France, would consider switching to another provider if it was able to offer a range of personalised services and their current provider was not.

 

Jumping ship

Even when asked solely about number choice, the propensity to change remained high, with at least 35% of respondents in every country stating they would think about switching to another provider if it could offer them the ability to select a number and their incumbent operator could not.

These figures underline the fragility of the relationship between operator and prepaid customer. The need to reduce churn, particularly across their prepaid subscriber base, is a key challenge. And to drive up loyalty levels, operators need to engage more effectively with subscribers.

This is a particular challenge when dealing with prepaid customers, a group with whom operators have historically had no formal contract and from whom there has typically been little or no opportunity to glean information.

Fortunately, a new approach to provisioning SIM cards and mobile services, where SIM cards are activated when the customer’s mobile phone is first switched on and used, rather than being pre-provisioned before even being sent to retailers, is helping operators overcome this challenge. By allowing customers to personalise their services when they use a mobile device for the first time, to pick their number or choose the right tariff, operators can create a new dialogue with prepaid subscribers.

 

Mobilise the workforce

Companies are eyeing other ways to mobilise their workforce beyond email, perhaps through corporate instant messaging or applications related to Microsoft’s Web collaboration service SharePoint, for example, as well as specific company apps.

Phone manufacturers and mobile operators want to build and deploy applications across multiple platforms. The same applications that a consumer uses at home or a businessman has on his laptop, are ultimately what they want to have on their mobile device. The desktop experience needs to be reciprocated on a mobile device.

Mirroring this experience on a mobile device allows carriers to add value to their service. Organisations now have to respond to employees demands regarding their business phone, they no longer want to carry around two phones, or be forced into using a blackberry. While organisations seek a solution to this new multi platform work force, manufacturers and operators must provide.

 

New approach

This new approach also helps operators to develop engagement and loyalty through ‘broader brush’ marketing campaigns. As operators roll out new solutions and services, the ability to launch compelling and timely marketing initiatives is likely to prove a key differentiator not only in attracting new customers but also in retaining existing ones.

Popular marketing techniques currently employed by operators include incentivising customers by offering them free credit every time someone they have introduced to the service tops up their account. Operators are also increasingly making SIM-only offers either online or in magazines and offering free cards to subscribers that sign up to specific product packages. Such practices provide another route by which operators can look to ‘connect’ with hard to reach prepaid subscribers.

Unfortunately, their ability to deliver these programmes in a timely and cost effective manner is often limited. The key issue is that all of these schemes necessitate increased distribution of SIM cards.

Current processes for distributing prepaid SIMs involve pre-provisioning of critical resources. Not only do phone numbers (MSISDNs) have to be allocated to each SIM, but multiple entries also have to be made in network databases. This results in a significant cost, in terms of capacity used and the numbers themselves, which are often in short supply and/or closely regulated.

Here, the new approach to provisioning also provides a solution by enabling the allocation of both network database entries and MSISDNs to be deferred to the point at which a new SIM card is first used.

 

Positive engagement

In today’s highly competitive telecoms arena, the need to build loyalty and reduce subscriber churn is increasingly an imperative. In such an environment, operators can no longer afford to continue the traditionally distant relationship they have enjoyed with their prepaid subscribers.

Instead, they need to get closer to these customers, to provide them with marketing incentives and to engage them with personalised services. Operators are increasingly realising that to do this they need a new method of provisioning SIMs that supports flexibility and drives cost savings and operational efficiencies.

Evolving Systems provides activation, dynamic SIM allocation and number management software and services to communication providers globally, helping them to improve process efficiency, reduce costs and enhance their customer’s experience. http://www.evolving.com/