Network Performance Monitoring Critical for Smartphone User Loyalty


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With the adoption of Unified Communications solutions growing at a substantial rate worldwide, the importance of network quality across devices—desktops, smartphones, tablets—is consequently increasing.

People rely on mobile devices for a wide range of personal and professional activities on a daily basis. The result is an explosion of network traffic that, in turn, creates potential customer experience problems.

Network Service Issues Impact Smartphone User Experience

A recent Empirix survey (completed by Harris Interactive in February 2011) examined the services utilized by smartphone users and how their experiences relate to perceptions of their Mobile Network Operator (MNO). A total of 2,651 smartphone users were interviewed in three major markets (750 in the U.S., 1,178 in the UK and 723 in Germany) and the results were eye-opening.

The frequency with which survey respondents reported using specific capabilities on their smartphones is incredible: 95 percent text, 83 percent search the Internet, 73 percent download data, 73 percent play games, and more than 50 percent visit social network sites, search for and watch videos, instant message, shop and bank. Clearly, use of these advanced capabilities is on the rise.

The problem is that more than two-thirds of U.S. smartphone users surveyed experience network service issues when engaging in some of the most common activities, including Internet searches, data downloads, searching for or watching videos and social networking. Further, the survey found that when it comes to placing blame for service issues and interruptions, consumers put the onus squarely on their MNO. In fact, nearly half of all surveyed smartphone users blame their MNO for the issues they experience.


Source: Empirix

So to be clear, the rise in usage and network traffic has led to an increase in service and experience issues that are very real. These findings demonstrate the direct and negative impact that network service issues have on the satisfaction and loyalty of valued smartphone subscribers.

Network Performance Monitoring and Correct Action

We now know that the increase in broadband traffic generated by bandwidth-intensive activities has led to routine service issues, but what about basic voice quality? Does the increase in network congestion impact this simple, yet critical, function of smartphones?

The reality is that voice is still king, so while all the advanced activities (social networking, games, etc.) are great, if you can’t make or receive a clear phone call on your smartphone, what’s the point in calling it a “phone”? This question is one that MNOs should not take lightly.

The call to action is clear: MNOs must enhance their understanding of network performance to ensure that potential issues are identified and corrected before they impact the user experience. Moreover, they must do so simultaneously with keeping voice quality and overall service levels high. How can they do this? Simple: get constant, comprehensive and proactive visibility into their network.

if you can’t make or receive a clear phone call on your smartphone, what’s the point in calling it a “phone”?

In many cases, MNOs do not have the insight into network performance to adequately understand and address customers’ true experience across all mobile applications and services. In fact, measuring the complete customer experience involves techniques and metrics that go far beyond what current, silo-based monitoring approaches offer. The current methods of analyzing network performance typically involve the collection and measurement of data from network devices. This passive approach provides a limited view of the network and does not always account for each of the network resources needed to support new devices (e.g., iPads and tablets) and services (e.g., more video). This limited set of data may (inaccurately) indicate that the network is performing adequately, when in reality users are experiencing significant issues.

Only by implementing a more comprehensive, end-to-end monitoring strategy can MNO’s hope to truly understand the customer experience. In order to do so, these organizations need a mix of both passive and active monitoring. With this approach, MNO’s can truly understand how the subscriber accesses the network, what activities they partake in and how services are delivered as well as how successful the experience was from the subscriber’s point of view. The end result is the highly prized ability to get it right and keep it right – which means consistently delivering a positive customer experience.

Customer Retention Critical to Long-Term Success

Increased market competition has made customer retention more critical than ever. The long-term success of MNOs will depend on how well they understand the impact of growing broadband traffic on service quality and the customer experience as well as how quickly they can identify and correct problems.

Comprehensive, end-to-end visibility into the network and the user experience is essential not only for maintaining the highest levels of performance, but also to maintaining the loyalty of today’s high-value smartphone users.

Bob Hockman
With more than 25 years of experience in the network and communications industry where he has been responsible for the creation and delivery of a number of industry leading products, Bob Hockman serves as Director of Product Marketing at Empirix. In this role, he directs the marketing efforts for the company's service quality assurance solutions. Prior to being with Empirix, Bob held engineering, marketing and executive positions with leading communications test companies such as Acterna (now JDSU), TTC and Wandel & Goltermann.


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