A little innovation goes a long way
Telecom giant Bharti Cellular had to contend with churn in
the pre-paid customer segment. The company developed a unique customer care
solution that helped it retain customers and improve profitability. by Kusum
Bharti Cellular, a leading telecom service provider, was facing a lot of customer
churn. The company had a large prepaid cellular subscriber base under its umbrella
brand Airtel. Even the slightest slackness in customer services could result
in a high degree of customer churn. If it took a long time to handle customer
complaints and calls, it would create a lot of dissatisfaction among users.
In order to avoid this, the company implemented Adagium PACS (Personal Access
Communication System), a software application-based customer care solution which
has helped the company improve its customer care services.
The streamlined workflow processes and reduced costs have helped the company
retain more customersand won it the Intelligent Enterprise Award in the
Treating Pre-paid Customers Right
Bharti implemented Adagium, a pre-paid provisioning, management
and customer care solution to enable end-to-end management for customer accounts
in the pre-paid segment. It has offered a bundle of value-added services which
can be implemented in conjunction with an IVRS to provide information, and to
accept response and feedback with downstream processing for achieving business
Bharti used the PACS technology in its Adagium software. PACS is a digital cordless
technology initially developed by Bell Labs in the US and was intended to compete
Adagium PACS is being constantly enhanced, and
is integrated with SMS/USSD-based applications providing CUG, F&F,
roaming rental, and differential SMS charging, says Amrita Gangotra,
CIO of Bharti Cellular
Adagium PACS manages the complete prepaid business support
functions, and has the capability to handle one lakh to one crore subscribers.
It is being constantly enhanced, and is integrated with SMS/USSD-based
applications providing CUG, F&F, roaming rental, and differential SMS charging,
says Amrita Gangotra, CIO of Bharti Cellular.
Adagium supports customer-care processes of QRC lodging, configurable provisioning
rights, tracking resolutions, personalised in-box and information about repeat
cases. The system uses enhanced CDM tools such as call centre and agent productivity
tools with reminders, alerts, FAQs, scripts, templates, checklists, SMS and
e-mail interfaces, Info Xchanger, broadcast messages and ticker tapes. It has
an independent system to monitor an entire bank of servers and databases for
server availability, database uptime, and disk space availability. The system
supports MSISDN/SIM pairing, bulk/single upload to HLR/AUC/IN, recycling, dealer
allocation and pre-paid/post-paid conversion.
The company was facing problems in bringing down the handling time of a pre-paid
call. It also had to ensure the provisioning of the pre-paid cards in the desired
HLR profiles and IN-Service class. In a nutshell, the companys Average
Revenue Per User (ARPU) had to be high.
ARPU measures the average monthly revenue generated for each customer.
- Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited's SMS-based
Linesman Alert Handling System (LAHS) to address customer complaints
for a faulty telephone system.
It is an indicator of a wireless business operating
performance. Severely declining ARPU is typically a negative sign that may indicate
a carrier is adding too many low-revenue generating customers to its rolls.
Airtel has a lot of Value Added Services (VAS) such as Masala, Airtel Live and
Edge for its pre-paid customers. It was crucial for the company to ensure
real-time provisioning of VAS, and Adagium helped us achieve that to a great
extent, says Gangotra.
Another major challenge that the company faced was to facilitate quicker and
more focussed resolution of complaints and requests through escalations and
workflows. The company was looking to empower the front-end lobby with the essential
provisioning tools to address urgent requirements like SIM-change, and conversions
from post- to pre-paid so that they could control the customer churn.
Optimising Customer Retention
A major thrust area for Bharti was to increase productivity levels in the organisation
by streamlining processes. The single view of IN pre-paid operations has streamlined
workflow processes. It lends visibility to critical business processes
like provisioning, billing and performance management, and helps us meet cost-performance
metrics, states Gangotra.
However, the biggest benefit which Bharti has gained is that the solution has
helped optimise customer retention. Powerful subscriber modelling techniques
have helped the company achieve service segmentation. Coupled with Adagiums
convergent customer care that present unified and seamless customer-focussed
processes, the solution optimises retention.
Return On Investment
Amrita Gangotra, CIO, Bharti Cellular, says, "The
award highlights the importance of innovation, especially in the telecom
scenario wherein ARPU issues persist. We are very glad to be recognised
and appreciated for our efforts.
We spent a total of Rs 82 crore for pre-paid call centre
handling, and have estimated savings of 15 percent on this figure, which comes
to Rs 12.3 crore on pre-paid call handling at call centres, reveals Gangotra.
The company is now earning additional revenue from higher acquisitions due to
customer satisfaction and references. Money is also flowing in in the form of
additional revenue from up-selling to existing customers and due to reduced
There are several intangible benefits that the company is experiencing alongside.
For instance, the average call handling time has reduced, and so has the service
request processing time. We have managed to increase backend resolution
and productivity with faster service request processing, resulting in additional
revenues, notes Gangotra.
We have migrated from Sun to IBM AIX as the hardware
platform, and are moving from Oracle to DB2.
The next logical step was to build new network interfaces and implement
Bharti has used distributed architecture with horizontal and
vertical scalability. In order to achieve higher scalability, it used specialist
nodes so as to ensure robust workflow, and an escalation engine with configurable
workflow. On the application front, the system uses Oracle, C++, VB, ASP and
Crystal Reports. We have migrated from Sun to IBM AIX as the hardware
platform, and are moving from Oracle to DB2. The next logical step was to build
new network interfaces and implement thin clients, says Gangotra.
Bharti is looking at providing USSD/SMS-based services such as validity extension
and choosing number by oneself, alongside applications to manage the deduction
of daily/weekly/monthly rentals for various services. It will be providing Web-enabled
self-care for pre-paid subscribers and implement thin clients for PACS agents.
The company is also looking at releasing the APIs for provisioning activities,
porting PACS to the AIX platform, and integrating PACS with CTI.
Project: The key strategic
objective behind implementing Adagium PACS was to provide an integrated
support system for the high growth but low ARPU pre-paid subscriber segment,
and to lower cost of ownership for pre-paid customers' vis-à-vis
agent-based costs for CRM/customer care systems
Date started: June
Date completed: July
Project cost: Rs 2.5
To implement Adagium PACS in the high growth/low ARPU pre-paid subscriber
segment in order to lower the cost of ownership for pre-paid customer
care and provide in-house support for the application
Adagium PACS is the only system managing the complete pre-paid business
support functions, and has the capability to handle one lakh to one crore
subscribers. It is the only product which is integrated with SMS/USSD-based
applications providing CUG, F&F, roaming rental, and differential