Quality of Experience is Key, says Acision

Mobile operators have an opportunity to improve customer satisfaction, reduce churn and drive new revenue streams by competing on service Quality of Experience (QoE). That’s one of the key findings of new consumer research launched today by YouGov and mobile messaging and data services enabler, Acision. 

YouGov conducted the research online between 8 and 10 August, 2011 among a sample of 1,146 UK adults, all of whom used a mobile broadband device (smartphone using mobile internet, dongles, modem sticks, datacards, 3G enabled tablets, netbooks or integrated mobile broadband in laptops). 

The research revealed that 77 per cent of users have encountered some form of quality of experience issue using services on mobile broadband. This is a mild improvement on a similar survey conducted by Acision and YouGov last year, which found that 84 per cent of consumers had encountered issues. While overall satisfaction may have risen slightly, operators still face challenges with regard to improving mobile broadband service delivery, with 54 per cent of consumers having experienced slow speeds, and 42 per cent having had connection problems.

The increasing popularity of time-sensitive, data-heavy applications and services, driven by the soaring adoption of smartphones and feature-rich devices, has not only put pressure on operators’ networks, says Acision, but also means that consumers have higher expectations of the quality of services they receive. But, while service usage is higher, 77 per cent of consumers who use VoIP on their mobile said that they have encountered problems with the service, while a further 70 per cent of video users have experienced problems when they access video.

For video specifically, stalling was found to be the most frequent and least acceptable issue (60 per cent), followed by having to wait a long time for the video to play (26 per cent). The research also revealed that only 11 per cent of consumers disagree or strongly disagree with operator intervention to optimise video during periods of congestion, and 21 per cent of respondents are willing to pay to prevent the video from stalling, and to improve the overall quality.

The findings also highlight a strong desire among consumers for more context-aware and personal preference-oriented services. 70 per cent of respondents said that they would like to be notified in real-time about network congestion, while another 71 per cent wanted to be notified about large download sizes, which could impact their data usage.

Greater tariff flexibility and differentiation also appears to be high on consumers’ wish-lists, with 26 per cent of video users stating that they would be happy to pay for a service that would enable them to save on their bundle. 72 per cent of respondents wanted the option to delay application updates to a time when downloads are free.

“In spite of well-publicised network investment and upgrades to LTE/4G, the level of customer satisfaction highlighted by this research illustrates how infrastructure upgrades alone cannot address the quality of experience issues with mobile broadband and its associated services,” notes Steven van Zanen, SVP marketing at Acision. “In order to enhance the end user experience, operators need to define new strategies and take a holistic, 360-degree quality of experience approach, which takes into consideration a number of key factors such as subscriber type, service characteristics/experience, personal preferences, device and content/context awareness.”

Van Zanen believes that in order to maintain a sustainable competitive edge, operators need to evolve from a purely technology-driven approach to a more customer-centric approach and gain control of all aspects of the service.

“Operators have the opportunity to lead the market on service differentiation, transparency and accountability, by offering clarity on service quality and insight into network performance,” he says. “ Acision’s innovative messaging and data services solutions, which can be provided through Acision’s Cloud Delivery Model, can help operators move beyond competing on higher speeds and bandwidth at lower prices towards more targeted, high value service offerings with improved QoE and faster delivery mechanisms.”