The growing use of mobile data is causing a headache for operators not only due to the strain placed on their networks, but also because of the complexity it adds to customer care.

"We are facing huge challenges in customer service because of data," said Cut Noosy Keumalafajri, customer service general manager at Indonesian mobile operator XL.

"The ecosystem is more complex," she said, noting that in the voice world the network operator controlled the ecosystem, but with data there are other players, like handset makers and applications companies, to consider. "The operator cannot control everything," she said.

The customer experience is totally different for data services, Keumalafajri added. While voice was effectively a plug-and-play service for end users, with data "sometimes the customer has to plug and pray," she joked.

The new challenges in the data world include the fact that data is often billed or quantified in megabytes, which are difficult for customers to understand. There are also numerous tariff plans and packages available to end users. "[Operators] launch so many products in one year," Keumalafajri said. In addition, the operator's customer services teams have to deal with a huge range of devices.

As a result, XL saw an increase in the number of complaints and the complaints themselves became more complex, she admitted.

"So we need to really transform to meet or exceed the customers' expectations," which are growing all the time, Keumalafajri said.

To that end, XL undertook a customer relationship management (CRM) transformation project with Amdocs. A few years ago the telco treated its CRM tools as "nice to have", Keumalafajri explained. Once the data era arrived in 2009, "then we realised that the CRM are very important tools between the customer and XL," she said.

Amongst other things, the transformation saw XL simplify systems and screen views for customer service agents, improve consistency between customer care centres and self-help portals, simplify workflow, and introduce advanced reporting and analytics tools.

"Satisfaction with customer service increased by more than 50%," said Keumalafajri, adding that the new CRM also brought with it opportunities to upsell customers to additional services.

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