“In crowded market such as ours, differentiation is essential. With our IBM Watson Customer Engagement platform, we can deliver personalized services that boosts our customer retention.”

—Stéphane Sloodts,Segment Marketing Manager, Customer Relationship Management,Proximus

Standing out in a saturated market

Mobile penetration in Belgium is over 100 percent—and in a highly saturated market, customer loyalty is crucial for telecoms companies. For Proximus, one of the country’s largest providers of fixed-line, mobile and TV services, the aim is to keep customers engaged and satisfied.

Stéphane Sloodts, Segment Marketing Manager, Customer Relationship Management at Proximus, explains: “We see that customers who use many of our services are far less likely to switch providers than those who only use one service—and to drive growth, we aim to inspire customers to take up more of our products. To achieve that goal, it’s crucial to ensure that customers are happy with the services they’re already using, and to understand which other services are most relevant to their unique needs and preferences.”

In the past, Proximus relied heavily on manual analytics processes to plan and execute out- and inbound campaigns. On the outbound channel, the challenge was that the company lacked the ability to finely segment its customers, which meant it was restricted to generic, catch-all campaigns that were only relevant to a small portion of the audience. On the inbound side, Proximus could only provide its contact center and shops with data on customer preferences once per month—increasing the risk that the information would be out of date by the time a customer called in.

“To deliver the relevant, consistent omni-channel customer experiences we were aiming for, we realized we needed a unified approach to customer engagement,” continues Sloodts. “We wanted a way to rapidly identify unique customer preferences, determine the next-best action to nurture their long-term loyalty, and drive that action on any channel.”

Differentiating on customer experience

Proximus has deployed a centralized digital marketing platform based on an integrated suite of IBM Watson Customer Engagement solutions. Using IBM Campaign, the company can design, launch and measure the results of finely targeted campaigns on any outbound channel. With IBM Interact, Proximus can harness data on online behavior and purchasing histories to identify the services that best match each customer’s unique profile—enabling its contact center and shops to make relevant, compelling offers.

By combining these solutions with IBM Contact Optimization, Proximus helps ensure that only the most relevant message is communicated to the customers. And to allow consistency across all its engagement activities, the company utilizes IBM Marketing Operations to manage its digital marketing workflows from end to end.

“Throughout our customer engagement transformation, we received valuable support from our CEO, who had recently taken on primary responsibility for customer management,” says Sloodts. “By selecting IBM solutions, we knew we’d gain the in- and outbound capabilities we needed in a tightly integrated stack—enabling us to build a 360-degree view of the customer based on their interactions across all our channels.”

Today, Proximus uses a real time decision engine to determine the next-best action for each customer based on their individual behaviors, preferences and product subscriptions. If a customer accepts or turns down an offer, the company automatically suppresses it from re-appearing on other channels—helping to ensure that its communications are always relevant and consistent.

“From the outset, we wanted to deliver more than just up- and cross-selling promotions via IBM Interact,” explains Sloodts. “Sometimes, reaching out with an offer isn’t the best action. For example, if we detect that the signal quality of a customer’s TV box has been decreasing and that the box has not been reset in the last week, we can proactively suggest that action during an inbound interaction or through an outbound email. We know that when customers are satisfied with their services, they’re more likely to add more services and stay loyal—and our IBM solutions are helping us to drive that increased satisfaction.”

Personalization services drive loyalty

Since adopting personalized marketing and nurture campaigns, Proximus is measuring significant improvements in many of its key-performance indicators.

“By embracing a more streamlined and automated approach to creating campaigns, we have increased the number of personalized messages we share each month by a factor of two,” says Sloodts. “Fine-grained customer modeling means that our outreach is more compelling and relevant, which means the audience is more likely to engage with what we have to say. Better yet, we’ve achieved this increase in personalization without any increase in our marketing headcount—enhancing our operational cost-effectiveness.”

By offering its contact center and shops real time data on next-best actions, the company is enabling its people to have more relevant and valuable customer conversations.

Sloodts comments: “Since we switched from providing data once per month to real time, we’ve seen a three-fold increase in the acceptance rate for inbound offers—and our ability to better understand customer needs has been key to that success.”

Proximus knows that for many of its customers, the account-holder and the decision-maker might be two different people with very different preferences. For example, in some households the account holder might be a parent, and the decision-maker could be a more technology-savvy member of the family such as a son or daughter. IBM solutions enable the company to identify the persona of the main account user, and deliver messages that resonate—for example, by offering a discount on a TV entertainment package rather than a sports subscription.

In addition, the company is turning these improved customer insights into value-added services for the clients who use its network infrastructure, helping them optimize their own operations and opening up new revenue-generating opportunities for Proximus.

Sloodts explains: “We recently signed an agreement with a coastal tourist information organization in Belgium to provide customer analytics. We now provide the organization with anonymized data on the profile of tourist visitors, including their home countries, whether they stay in hotels or rented accommodation and where the most popular attractions are—helping them optimize the experience for future visitors.”

Proximus sees that artificial intelligence (AI) solutions will play a vital role as it continues to enhance its analytics capabilities.

“Just because a business collects more and more data doesn’t necessarily mean it has deeper insight—and in our view, AI solutions like IBM Watson are going to be increasingly important to extract hidden trends and patterns from big data,” concludes Sloodts. “In crowded market such as ours, differentiation is essential. With our IBM Watson Customer Engagement platform, we can deliver personalized services that boosts our customer retention.”

About Proximus

Headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, Proximus is one of the country’s largest providers of telecommunication and ICT services. Serving consumers, businesses and the public sector across Belgium and internationally, Proximus offers fixed-line, mobile, TV and network-based ICT services through its Proximus and Scarlet brands.

Solution Category

  • Watson Customer Engagement