Real-time analytics helps telecom provider adapt to changing customer needs during global pandemic and beyond
Anticipate user needs and connect with the right offer at the right time.
5% increase in mobile subscribers
Telefónica Ecuador accelerates digital transformation, improves campaigns and achieves growth via intelligent decisioning powered by SAS
In recent years, the mobile phone market has gone through difficult times and changes, most notably from the COVID-19 pandemic. As economic challenges and rising unemployment spread through Ecuador, many users cancelled their postpaid mobile plans or greatly reduced their prepaid top-up expenses. As a result, the market contracted from 15.85 million registered subscribers in 2019 to 15.48 million in 2020.
Telefónica Ecuador, one of the country’s leading telecommunications companies, wanted to optimize the costs and results of its campaigns in an effort to multiply its income sources and increase the effectiveness of its commercial actions in the midst of the recession. That’s when the company turned to SAS.
The real-time campaigns deployed in 2020 brought incremental revenues to the company, and helped us differentiate ourselves during the COVID-19 pandemic. Campaigns run in real time today are four times more effective than the batch campaigns we ran in the past. César Bedoya Chief Data Officer Telefónica Ecuador
Real-time customer solutions attract more prepaid mobile users
Think about how many changes a person’s behavior can undergo in a second:
- When you are in the middle of doing something, and you receive a phone call.
- When you are in a videoconference, and the power goes out.
- When you are chatting on your mobile phone, and you unexpectedly run out of data.
How can a company create products and services – or design campaigns that consider these types of situations – and deliver immediate solutions to any change that could occur at a moment’s notice? That is precisely the power of advanced real-time analytics.
When it comes to change, the COVID-19 pandemic created a continuous and dramatic period of uncertainty where people, companies, industries and economic sectors were affected. This was particularly true for the telecommunications industry.
Suddenly, telecom operators needed to manage greater connectivity and communication capacities in residential areas instead of business centers, adapting their commercial and service packages to the new reality experienced by users. This led to an accelerated transformation, as operators worked to modernize their infrastructures, update strategies and adapt offerings to the new circumstances.
In some markets, the changes people made ended up affecting the general behavior of the entire telecommunications sector. As the pandemic spread, so did the economic crisis and job losses, which caused a reduction in the number of mobile subscribers.
Yet, during the turmoil, Telefónica Ecuador managed to increase its mobile subscribers by more than 5%, reaching one of the highest historical levels in the market where it operates through the Movistar (Otecel) and Tuenti brands. The company also was able to diversify some of its revenues and reduce several of its costs.
How did Telefónica Ecuador manage to grow during such turbulent circumstances? By identifying customers’ new needs and adapting its strategies and campaigns to meet them. The company implemented sophisticated segmentation, data visualization and advanced analytics solutions from SAS with embedded artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities.
SAS allows us to have an agile business infrastructure. Our solution is scalable, enables code reuse and supports the development of new use cases. Rafael Carrera Bustamante Business Intelligence Architecture and Development Manager Telefónica Ecuador
The product must find the customer
“The mission of each person who works in this company is to make customers’ lives easier,” says César Bedoya, Chief Data Officer of Telefónica Ecuador. “And this can only be done by being closer to them, knowing exactly what they need and when.”
Historically, prepaid segments represented a large percentage of the company’s total revenue in Ecuador, where well-designed campaigns were being carried out – but sometimes they were repeated and not personalized to a customer’s specific needs. General or traditional campaigns often are not the best strategy.
As customer behavior changes, companies must adapt accordingly.
“That’s where real-time analytical intelligence becomes valuable, because it allows us to identify and manage customer needs at the exact moment,” Bedoya says. “This can show the ideal time to run a campaign and trigger a promotion, send a ‘happy birthday’ message or even just say ‘hello.’ It may happen that the customer is already very well covered, and the only thing the operator needs to do is greet them or show them that we are there. This is very important because it is not always about selling or generating more income – many times what is required is simply to be there, to ensure availability and closeness to the customer.”
But what happens when a prepaid subscriber is talking on the phone and suddenly runs out of minutes? Or when someone is surfing the web and runs out of available data? These are instances where operators must be able to identify the specific need and be able to resolve the situation quickly for the customer.
“The prepaid mobile segment is quite unique – it requires being there at the exact moment when the user needs something,” Bedoya explains. “It is often the case that a sense of opportunity – and even empathy – is lost when a customer no longer has a balance in their account. In this type of service, the challenge is to ensure that they do not run out of service at any time. We should be motivating them to recharge before they run out of service, but also, if they run out of minutes or data, they should have immediate access to recharge.”
Real-time interaction management is a rapidly growing area of marketing technology in recent years. Its application helps companies create a personalized experience, necessary to retain or improve customer experiences.
Telefónica Ecuador relies on SAS solutions to manage real-time campaigns associated with its prepaid business line customers to provide the right offer at the right time. This includes notification management from platforms that identify the consumption status of services purchased by customers.
Similarly, for another group of campaigns, Telefónica Ecuador can see the voice, SMS or data behavior performed by the customer to propose a commercial action.
“There are millions of users and millions of things happening all the time, so if you don’t move forward with a complete and robust solution that has a high processing capacity, you’re not going to achieve your objectives,” Bedoya says.
With SAS, it is possible to deploy use cases in an average of six weeks between the construction and implementation of campaigns. The integration with different channels is simple, as SAS processes large amounts of data in very short time, and allows interaction with transactional systems in milliseconds.
“Adapting to new needs and adjusting campaigns to market requirements is very easy and very effective in terms of benefits,” Bedoya says. “Connection costs are now almost zero, and we can configure connections, strengthening omnichannel connectivity, which is essential for Telefónica, if not for all companies these days.”
Telefónica Ecuador – Facts & Figures
more effective campaigns
new customers during 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic
Campaign effectiveness quadruples, and the future looks bright
Since it began using real-time analytics from SAS, Telefónica Ecuador has seen remarkable results.
“The real-time campaigns deployed in 2020 brought incremental revenues to the company, and helped us differentiate ourselves during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Bedoya says. “Campaigns run in real time today are four times more effective than the batch campaigns we ran in the past.”
Ultimately, Telefónica Ecuador added more than 300,000 users in 2020, as it optimized its marketing and improved the effectiveness rates of its prepaid mobile batch campaigns by up to 10%.
Not only is Telefónica Ecuador handling the crisis generated by the pandemic, but it is making progress in its business transformation and reinforcing its presence in the Ecuadorian market.
“SAS allows us to have an agile business infrastructure,” says Rafael Carrera Bustamante, Business Intelligence Architecture and Development Manager of Telefónica Ecuador. “Our solution is scalable, enables code reuse and supports the development of new use cases. The fast implementation times of today’s campaigns give us the flexibility to quickly ramp up new commercial initiatives, fine-tune productive campaigns so they don’t lose their effectiveness, and optimize resources to meet the growth and needs of today.”
“Our ability to integrate with different platforms in the mobile world – and the different communication channels we have for our customers – simplifies the deployment of campaigns in a short period of time,” Bustamante continues. “Ultimately, we can better identify customers’ needs and promptly fulfill them.”
The benefits Telefónica Ecuador obtained through SAS have been so significant that the company is already planning to implement real-time analytics in other lines of business.
“Looking ahead, we want to start identifying how to act in real time in other segments,” Bedoya says. “Proximity and real time are very powerful tools. So far, we have been working on revenue issues and trying to reduce customer churn, but we also see broad benefits in terms of generating new business, and that is where we will go.”