PARIS – To distinguish themselves from competitors, communications service providers are increasing their budgets for improving customer experience, according to a survey conducted by telecom research house Heavy Reading and sponsored by Alcatel-Lucent. The survey indicates that providers are interested in understanding the experiences their customers have with various products and services so they can correct problems and improve customer loyalty.

The survey, conducted in collaboration with Alcatel-Lucent’s Market and Consumer Insight, quantifies and ranks the elements service providers deem most important in the area of customer experience management (CEM) and incorporates feedback from key CEM decision makers at 75 service providers around the world.

Says Caroline Chappell, senior analyst at Heavy Reading, “Service providers are looking at customer experience management to differentiate in an increasingly crowded and competitive market. They are all approaching CEM from different starting points, however, and typically find it difficult to implement it in a holistic, differentiated way. Our survey results have yielded a rich stream of insights into service provider CEM, particularly around their specific reasons to invest in CEM.”

Key Findings of the Study

CEM investment increasing: Customer experience management will be an area of focus and investment for service providers in 2013, with two-thirds of respondents expecting to increase next year’s expenditures in this area.

Opportunity for differentiation: Service providers view CEM as strategic, with more than three-quarters of respondents indicating that improved CEM provides an opportunity to attract new business, two-thirds agreeing it could improve their brand image and nearly six in ten confident that it will provide competitive differentiation.

Customer satisfaction metrics: Though CEM-related metrics such as customer satisfaction, network and service availability are clearly valuable to service providers, the study shows a strong desire to take measurements more frequently. Three-quarters of respondents agreed that measuring their top five metrics more often would have a significant impact on their ability to deliver a superior customer experience.

Activities influencing CEM: Respondents agreed on several basic activities that impact customer experience – for example, nearly nine in ten cited the importance of answering customer queries and resolving problems in a timely fashion. Other activities, such as prioritizing network quality of service based on the value of an individual customer, are seen as relatively less important.

Barriers to CEM implementation: More than half of respondents listed difficulty in securing cross-organizational cooperation as a potential barrier to implementing CEM. Almost half of respondents saw poor data quality as the second-to-top barrier.