Personalization starts with the SIM

Historically, operators using conventional pre-provisioned prepaid and contract SIM cards have been unable to offer subscribers the kind of personalization of service that really drives loyalty to the brand – from number selection to choosing a tariff that best suits their needs.
In most markets, prepaid subscribers are in the overwhelming majority and operators typically focus on indirect sales channels to serve them. These channels can only support relatively simple service configurations.
With the pre-provisioning model, the range of services available to new customers is constrained by SIM card availability. The model makes it impossible for operators to offer even simple personalization of services like choice of telephone number, as such details will have already been fixed well before the SIM card reaches the subscriber.
This lack of personalization means that operators struggle to engage with their prepaid customers or gain insight into their behavior, ultimately leading to low levels of loyalty and high rates of churn.
Today, by provisioning the SIM card at the moment of first use, operators can offer a choice of telephone numbers as well as attractive tariffs, options, products, promotions and upgrades. These can be targeted on the basis of their device, location and other criteria – in other words, effectively personalized to their wishes and needs.
Maintaining loyalty and driving up revenues means offering more after users sign-up, too. The “golden moment” at first use is a great opportunity to engage with customers, but it is only part of the story.
To effectively maintain the relationship, operators need to continue offering new services over a much longer timeframe. The new SIM card provisioning methodology can help them to continue offering more choice to customers in-life, too.
In driving up customer satisfaction levels, it is also important that operators are able to match the user experience to the device used. The sophistication of mobile devices is increasing all the time as smartphones and browser-enabled devices continue to upgrade to them.
It is critical that the chosen SIM provisioning solution allows operators to be both device and location-aware. There is a major difference between the kind of marketing message suitable for delivery to a feature phone connected to a GPRS network and that appropriate for a mobile broadband network connected iPad with a large color screen.
With the latest dynamic provisioning technology, the user experience when making choices and activating services is tailored according to the device being used. If it’s a simple phone, text-based menus can be used. If it has a browser, web-based interaction can be offered. If the browser is on a smartphone, the approach can be adjusted to suit a small screen browser.
The key here is in making the process as easy as possible for users and tailoring it to their needs. In this way, operators will be able to use personalization to effectively reduce churn, drive up ARPU and build competitive edge.
Thad Dupper is chairman and chief executive of Evolving Systems. For more information visit