Survey of telecom marketers highlights ineffective use of customer data

customer data
Mobile operators lack tools and skills to effectively use customer data, according to a new survey of global telecom marketers by the CMO Council. (FierceCMO)

Most mobile carriers lack the organizational structure, tools and skills to effectively extract and use customer data for marketing and selling additional services, according to a new report from the CMO Council. Just 9% of the 150 senior telecom marketers surveyed say their organization is “highly effective at using historical data to better understand customer needs and revenue growth opportunities,” and 48% report they are still working to improve their use of customer data.

The primary obstacles include a lack of resources and talent, dated infrastructures, digital transformation delays, change-resistant mindsets and the lack of data integration across telecom companies, according to the CMO Council. “Surprisingly, tracking customer value creation as a critical contributor to business fundamentals and performance indicator has yet to be widely adopted in the telco sector,” Donovan Neale-May, executive director at the CMO Council, said in a prepared statement.

The new report, which was commissioned by Huawei and conducted during the second half of 2018, arrives on the heels of a fresh scandal surrounding major U.S. carriers’ ongoing practice of selling customers’ personal location data to third parties. All of the nation’s leading carriers have made repeated promises to stop the practice, but consumer privacy advocates and elected officials are calling for stricter laws and stiffer penalties.

The CMO Council’s research is focused on increasing value from existing customers, but it also highlights the wide gap that remains between the gathering, security and use of personal data. More than half of the telecom marketers surveyed represent operators with more than $1 billion in revenue.

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According to the survey, the top five contributors to customer value creation include efficient customer care, a consistent experience across all channels of engagement, reliable operations, simplified access to subscribe and use new services, and personalized content, plans and support programs. Conversely, only 11% of the telecom marketers surveyed reported the transition from 4G to 5G as an important area for creating more value for customers. Moreover, only 7% identified flexibility and convenience as an important factor, and only 4% reported loyalty rewards as a leading path to generate more revenue.

Additionally, privacy regulations, data overload and the complexity of integrating third-party data sources were not listed among the top obstacles to make better use of customer data. Among the telecom marketers surveyed, the top 10 products or programs identified as the most critical include security and threat protection, cloud services, 5G services, subscription-based content, digital payments, remote monitoring and management, music on-demand, ecommerce, bundled services and predictive maintenance.

“Looking to counter competitive threats and inroads, telco marketers are now embracing a wide range of new strategies to deliver both customer value and incremental margin or revenue,” Neale-May said in the statement.