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TalkTalk harnesses big data for better customer management with SAS® Analytics

TalkTalk is using SAS to analyse, model and predict the propensity of customer churn, as well as optimise marketing programmes to improve cross and up-sell opportunities

TalkTalk is one of the leading broadband, home phone and mobile companies for consumers and businesses in the UK, and in July 2012 was one of the founding partners in the launch of YouView TV. Through organic growth and acquisitions the company has grown significantly since it was founded, listing itself on the London Stock Exchange in 2010, and generating annual revenues in 2011 of £1.7bn.

TalkTalk has expanded rapidly since it was founded in 2003 as a fixed line telecommunications company to now incorporate additional services including broadband and mobile. The company has 4.8 million customers generating large amounts of varying types of data. To cope, the business has developed over the last few years a robust single customer view by integrating over 12 data sources including CRM, transactional, network and dynamic usage data. Making sense of all of this data has been important to manage customers both in terms of acquisition but more importantly in a saturated market, customer retention and cross- and up-sell opportunities. To do this effectively, TalkTalk has turned to SAS to help make the most of its data.

TalkTalk is a data heavy company with many sources and formats to deal with. Having a single customer view has always been the foundation of its data strategy, ensuring it has the right data, in the right place at the right time. Using SAS, the company is taking its data management framework to the next level in terms of identifying shifts and patterns in customer behaviour for more effective marketing and retention programmes.

Harnessing big data
Having established a strong data management framework, TalkTalk recognised that to enhance its customer experience, retain customers in a competitive marketplace and personalise offers for new services, it had to harness its data even more effectively. The business was aggregating 10 terabytes of data from multiple sources into a single dataset, but believed it had yet to unlock the full wealth of patterns, insights and trends that existed in the data. The customer lifetime value team at TalkTalk presented a proposal to senior management to embark on a major big data analytics initiative with SAS to enhance customer management and retention.

The depth and breadth of TalkTalk's data is enormous, and the company felt that it could play a greater role in helping the business deliver a better customer experience by tapping into its big data using SAS Analytics. The management team understood the value of big data and the benefits that better analysis and modelling could do for the business.

Transforming data with analytics
The big data analytics initiative commenced in the first half of 2012 with an initial focus on reducing customer churn and increasing customer life time value. While TalkTalk had been modelling its customer data for many years, it has started increasing the sophistication of the analytics and modelling using SAS Analytics. Working with SAS, the business is acquiring the necessary skills to better model and analyse the data.

TalkTalk is at the beginning of the journey in terms of transforming its data with SAS Analytics, but even in these relatively early stages it has seen the merit of the programme. According to TalkTalk, the company has already begun to see new trends and patterns that are informing customer retention efforts.

Over the years, TalkTalk had identified a number of trigger points and levers that pointed to the reasons behind customer churn and had successfully acted on those indicators. However, the power of SAS has enabled the company to apply even more sophisticated models and segmentation techniques to the data to reveal new triggers, as well the impact of multiple levers of behaviour on customer churn.

Previously, TalkTalk was looking at single levers of churn, but SAS has helped it identify multiple levers in combination, as well as uncovering new triggers and levers that they did not know existed. This is a significant step not only in terms of improving customer retention, but also in improving marketing and promotional efforts. This early success has given the team at TalkTalk real optimism that as they work with SAS to apply even more advanced analytics to the data it will unearth powerful customer insights.

Understanding the customer
TalkTalk has begun a process using SAS to model and segment their customers in a more granular way. This has resulted in being better able to segment high and low value, and high and low risk customers more specifically based on insights and triggers so that customer retention programmes, as well as opportunities to create more tailored promotional offers. The level of insight into customer trends and behaviour that SAS reveals will play a key role in helping to shape the marketing and customer experience efforts of the company.

As TalkTalk becomes more confident in its analytics and modelling it will look at how the product portfolios interact with each other to identify trends and patterns across broadband, telephone, mobile and in the future TV. Moreover, as the company continues on its big data journey, the analytics team expect the volume, velocity and variety of data to grow significantly as more data sources such as social media and unstructured data from TV are added including its sponsorship of The X Factor and partnership with YouView.

According to TalkTalk, they are very confident that they have framework in place now to truly extrapolate more customer insights and behaviours from their data. This will help the company make better and faster decisions in the future, but also give them the platform in which to use SAS for predictive analytics, taking the understanding of their customers up another level in terms of sophistication.

TalkTalk knows that in the highly competitive markets in which it operates it must continually find new ways to be more responsive, agile and customer centric than its competitors. The role of data now has senior management visibility – that is how important it is to the business – and working with SAS it will realise the potential of its big data.

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Talk Talk (Big Data)

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Harness the growing amount and variety of data to better understand their customers; improve customer retention in saturated and new markets; and increase cross- and up-sell opportunities.
SAS® Analytics including SAS® Forecasting, SAS® Predictive Analytics, SAS® Enterprise Miner™, SAS® Text Miner; and Base SAS®
TalkTalk has begun a journey to unlock the value of its big data by utilising SAS Analytics. The business has already seen improvements in its customer segmentation and modelling, including identifying new triggers and levers, as well as the impact on customer behaviour of multiple triggers and levers working in combination. The company will add more advanced analytics and predictive analytics capabilities to its growing amount of data as it seeks to gain even greater insights into its customers.

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