Smartphone ‘real-time’ notifications are everywhere! I recently read that the average phone user receives up to 80 notifications per day. While they can be somewhat annoying, we hate turning them off. Something can happen on the other side of the world and your phone can alert you within seconds. We expect real-time alerts and feel as though we have missed out if someone tells us the news before we have read it ourselves.
There is something worse than not receiving notifications – incorrect or late notifications. In a previous blog, “New 5G Services & Last Mile Access to Broadband – Part One,” I mentioned that my mobile operator (I like to call them “the operator who should not be named”) often has problems sending real-time threshold alerts warning me of the impending doom that my data bundle is about to run out. I did spend thirty minutes and a cup of coffee discussing this with one of their friendly agents who informed me that I should think of notifications as “non-guaranteed guidance” to help me out. So kind of them that occasionally they can send me a message if the stars are in alignment that they will be debiting twice the normal amount from my bank account this month!
Another example that comes to mind is that recently, I signed up for a water leakage sensor trial that used “real-time artificial intelligence” and would tell me instantly if I get a water leak at home. What I quickly discovered is that the shower patterns of my family completely confused the AI part of the solution and the real-time element was more like three hours later. After a few “you seem to be using a lot of water, is someone taking a shower?” messages to my phone, I found myself heading to the phone settings to switch it off.
Which brings me to my point, notifications need to be instant, precise and relevant in order to be truly real-time. This is what we spend our time at MATRIXX obsessing about!
The water sensor that tells me three hours after my daughter’s extra-long shower, or the notification from my operator 72 hours after I have run out of data, means I can’t act immediately to fix the problem. As soon as the network detects a notifiable condition, it should be raised to the customer without delay. There must be a robust enough transaction processing architecture in place monitoring the millions of events and triggering alerts via a direct digital path to the subscriber.
On top of instant visibility, customers expect that any information they receive is precise. It’s no good sending a notification saying that your data bundle has run out. Which data bundle? How much data was there? Why has this happened? If you can’t supply this information either directly or as a second click, the customer will probably be more panicked and start calling the call center; therefore, incurring more costs and defeating the idea of a great digital experience.
If a notification is sent, it needs to be relevant to the customer. I’m not really interested that my company’s billing cycle is about to renew, but I am interested in knowing that a country I just landed in is included in my data plan (and how much roaming data I have left would be a nice touch). Another example is the frequent use of blanket notifications for users. For instance, typically everyone gets an 80% bundle remaining notification by default. No two customers think the same, and this can create more frustration if notifications cannot be personalized not only for every customer but for every balance held by the operator for that customer.
But it is not just about providing a digital experience either; it makes business sense to engage with customers at appropriate times. For example:
“Welcome to Dubai; how about buying our great value roaming data pack while you are here? 1Gb for $5, just click here to accept.”
“You seem to love Spotify on the go. Why not buy our unlimited Spotify pass here.”
“Instagram upload fears while on holiday? Don’t worry, buy unlimited access for the next week.”
“Oops, only 50Mb left on your 5GB monthly data plan; buy a one-off top-up of 1Gb for $5 to get you to the end of the month here.”
Instant. Precise. Relevant. When scaled to millions of network events across millions of customers, adding in the complexity of customer groups and corporate enterprises where notifications need to be sent to multiple locations, it’s clear that a robust event processing and decision engine is the solution.
Notifications are engagement opportunities with customers with brand awareness and potential upsell opportunities. It is important to get them right.