Seven best practices for enhancing data roaming usage

02 September 2014 | Mary Clark

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Mary Clark

Blog Author | Syniverse; Chief Marketing Officer


Today’s mobile network operators (MNOs) are contending with a host of new market challenges. A new wave of regulatory requirements, the commoditisation of many services, the increasing competition from OTT players and the infrastructure investment requirement for LTE represent just a few of the new forces reshaping the industry.

Today’s mobile network operators (MNOs) are contending with a host of new market challenges. A new wave of regulatory requirements, the commoditisation of many services, the increasing competition from OTT players and the infrastructure investment requirement for LTE represent just a few of the new forces reshaping the industry.

Yet one area that continues to offer promising growth opportunities is data roaming. Confoundingly, despite soaring growth in domestic data usage, international data roaming usage continues to be relatively limited, as a large percentage of mobile users routinely switch off data service when they travel – a group often known as “silent roamers”.

The surge in data demand driven by smart devices has transformed the mobile world, making connectivity crucial for users who leave home. Yet MNOs face several challenges in tapping this opportunity. Chief among these is the capability to gain an instantaneous view of a user’s connectivity needs and to serve those needs in a relevant and timely way: the concept of real-time intelligence.

This involves using real-time data, to first deliver a superior quality of experience for each user, and second to provide personalised offerings for new services. Fortunately, new technology and service advancements are now enabling MNOs to overcome this challenge, and they are unlocking a valuable market segment.

Through our experience as a specialist in both real-time intelligence and roaming services, we have developed seven best practices to help MNOs excel in improving customer satisfaction and delivering personalised offerings. I invite you to review the steps below and consider how they can add value in increasing data roaming usage.

1. Act in real time
It is critical to have a real-time snapshot of when, where and how users need connectivity options – and to act on this. If a traveller, for example, lands in a foreign country and plans to purchase a local SIM card instead of investigating other options, that user’s MNO must be prepared to detect the user’s arrival and proactively text her with a personalised offer that enables roaming at a competitive price, all before she even considers purchasing a SIM card.

2. Know your customers
MNOs must also understand subscribers’ usage patterns and utilise this information to respond to their needs. For instance, if a subscriber has opted to allow his MNO to have access to the location information for his mobile device, and his device is detected to be in a particular international city more than five times a year, his MNO must be able to sense this pattern and provide a roaming plan for that city, relevant to that subscriber’s exact needs.

3. Customise offerings
MNOs must also present highly personalised offerings. New technologies now make it possible to offer a number of tailored data usage and pricing plans that can be targeted to specific subscriber segments. These plans represent a major improvement over the more traditional one-size-fits-all plans, offering subscribers packages based on exactly how they expect to use roaming services.

4. Make purchases easier
Another important step in driving data roaming usage is implementing purchasing options to make it as easy as possible for users to buy data packages at any time. This includes data package purchases, recharge options and even direct operator billing options for app purchases, which enables users to purchase content through a seamless process that adds the charge directly to their mobile phone bills while roaming.

5. Empower subscribers
Real-time alerting technologies now put the power of real-time monitoring of roaming usage control directly in users’ hands, with interfaces that allow them to access usage information anytime and anywhere. This empowerment provides a powerful tool to avoid bill shock, and MNOs should make this feature available as widely as possible.

6. Prevent complaints
Subscribers should be provided with options to set spending or apply usage thresholds for data services, and to receive automatically generated mobile messages as they approach these thresholds. New technologies enable this through simple but dynamic tools that MNOs can use to not only mitigate bill shock, but also to reduce customer complaints, negative media coverage and the risk of non-payment of a roaming bill.

7. Maintain focus on quality
Of course, maintaining the highest quality of service is paramount in driving increased data roaming usage, and it is especially important in today’s hyper-competitive mobile market. The latest roaming-monitoring applications ensure that MNOs can consistently deliver top service by identifying network abnormalities – such as data registration failures and traffic patterns – and efficiently solve issues before they affect subscribers.

As these seven practices illustrate, ensuring a superior quality of experience and providing customised service offerings for subscribers can deliver a powerful solution for enhancing data roaming usage. Competition is fierce in today’s roaming market, and MNOs must be able to take advantage of these capabilities to make clear the direct connection between their subscribers and the unique value that MNOs deliver to them when they roam.