Don’t ignore the inbound roamer

As the summer vacation season begins in earnest, many of us will be packing our suitcases and taking our smartphones with us for a couple of weeks of sun and sand, or to sample the cultural heritage and cuisine of another country. These days the smartphone—with a reliable mobile connection—is a must-have accessory for our vacation, as the Instagram image and the Facebook post have replaced the traditional postcard as a way of letting people back home see what a great time we are having.

To the mobile networks in the countries we visit, we become an ‘inbound roamer’, or temporary customer, and—depending on our destination—a potentially lucrative source of revenue to whichever operator owns the network our phones connect to. But just how important is an inbound roamer to a network operator? At first glance it may appear that a transient visitor to the network does not merit the same priority as a long-term customer whose loyalty is important to them, nor do they carry much weight as an influencer to others, as they do not reside in the target market. Nevertheless, operators should perhaps pay even more attention to keeping them happy. As well as representing a substantial source of revenue, they can uniquely ‘churn’ just by choosing a different network in their call settings menu.

Juniper Research estimated that mobile operators earned $21bn globally from roaming in 2016, averaging more than 10% of their total revenue. Although this figure is expected to drop significantly in 2017 since roaming charges within the European Union were abolished in June, many operators are planning to raise call tariffs for non-EU markets to compensate, meaning that keeping those international travelers satisfied while on their networks will become even more important. Despite the new legislation in Europe, the Brexit is expected to balance mobile operators’ revenues from inbound roamers. According to “The Guardian” magazine, UK tourists face hefty mobile phone roaming charges when traveling to the EU starting 2019, and may end up with a bill of  £100 or more with the 17% added to it.

Roamer strategy

The number of connections and device types are constantly growing, while travel patterns and data consumption habits are also evolving. Large international events such as sports tournaments and festivals add even more uncertainty to the mix, as well as being a focus for high data usage and a drain on capacity.

Mobile operators are understandably keen to find out more about the behavior of their inbound roamers, and to make sure that those roamers benefit from a good user experience. They may even want to make the most of offering them targeted marketing, which again relies on maintaining their loyalty over the time they remain in the country. While they naturally know less about the demographics of the roamers, the Call Detail Records (CDR) reveal much about their behavior and activities, such as whether they are heavy data users needing a fast connection or whether they prefer voice or SMS for staying in touch. By applying big data analytics and machine learning, CellMining’s Network CEM solution empowers MNOs to optimize network performance so that the needs of everyone from high-budget business travelers to gap-year students traveling on a shoestring are each met with the appropriate level of service quality.

Market-wide satisfaction

Balancing the optimization of user experience for inbound roamers with the everyday business of giving loyal domestic subscribers the quality of experience they deserve demands a holistic approach to Network CEM, which should be based on correlating market-wide user experience data with network KPIs that are proven to enhance customer satisfaction. This is why CellMining’s Inbound Roaming product integrates with the Network CEM solution to help mobile operators to prioritize the quality of experience for international roamers and thus to preserve and grow the levels of roamer traffic on their network.

The Inbound Roaming product analyzes KQIs for inbound roamers and provides rich insights that allow the operator to pinpoint where their voice and data experiences are being adversely affected. By correlating this with cell performance, both radio issues and device incompatibilities can be addressed and resolved. Actionable reports include tracking entry and exit points to identify roamers who have switched to other networks. representing a loss in roaming revenue. Discrimination between incoming and outgoing calls is particularly important for roamers, allowing misconfigured settings between the operator and international carriers to be rectified.

Inbound Roaming CEM benefits MNOs by preserving network quality and availability for foreign subscribers and allowing otherwise unused capacity to be utilized. Network maintenance tasks can be prioritized to meet business objectives, including safeguarding wholesale roaming revenues. Quality reports can also be shared with the roamers’ home networks.

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