• February 1, 2006
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

Flying High on Service Automation

CRM is usually all about communicating to your customers and giving them what they want. But when you're a mobile telecommunications software vendor, the goal is to give them what they want by not talking to them--your customers are focused on communicating with their own customers, so when they're talking to you, it means there's a problem. That's how it is for airwide solutions, a mobile messaging, device management, and security provider serving more than 70 mobile and wireless operators in 46 countries. The company is no stranger to the field, having sent the first short messaging service (SMS) message with Vodafone in 1992. Airwide's range of products and services includes SMS, multimedia messaging (MMS), fraud prevention, premium messaging delivery, and device management. In all cases airwide's goal is to roll out its service quickly and seamlessly to customers, maximizing system availability through efficient service. Fabien Delenaud, director of operations in airwide solutions' Montreal office, realized that true efficiency was not possible if customers had to request service and support. "We wanted to be even more proactive with our support, and get problems fixed before customers called with a complaint," Delenaud says. Airwide is often asked to integrate its own products and services with those of other vendors. "Sometimes a third-party product would be the cause of the problem, and customers would wait days before calling us." To minimize the lag between the development of a problem and airwide becoming aware of it, the company turned to Tel Aviv--based NextNine, a worldwide provider of automated service and support technology. Founded in 1998, NextNine has received accolades from both Gartner, which placed it on the "Cool Vendors in Customer Relationship Management 2005" report, and Deloitte, which ranked NextNine 17th on the Israel Technology Fast 50 list of companies in September 2005. "For years NextNine has been addressing the needs of technology support organizations by delivering solutions that take automated service and support to new heights," says NextNine CEO Adi Dulberg. He touts the software's diagnostics and self-healing ability to identify issues before they become real problems, and the system's secure remote access options and automatic escalation for those times when automatic maintenance isn't enough. These factors provide reduced service costs and mean time to repair, increased system uptime, and greater organizational efficiency, resulting in improved customer satisfaction. Uptime was only one of the issues facing the company. "We had very aggressive goals for customer service," says Nicole Gruslin, marketing director for airwide solutions. These goals included meeting customers' strict service-level agreements, a life-or-death matter for mobile telecommunications support. "But the real challenge was to marry the NSA tool with our 12 years of customer service expertise." NSA was customized and fully integrated into airwide's messaging services within a few weeks, allowing airwide to fulfill its agreements while retaining pre-NextNine head count and customer costs. "NextNine Service Automation proved its worth as soon as it was deployed. With minimal investment, we were able to improve our service and provide a proactive managed service support," Delenaud says, noting an impressive 30 percent reduction in mean time to repair. "Using NextNine to proactively detect and resolve problems, airwide solutions is continuing to provide the best service and support in the industry." Delenaud and airwide intend to partner with the company and make NSA a standard offering to all customers. The Payoff By integrating NextNine Service Automation 3.5, airwide solutions:
  • reduced mean time to repair by 30 percent;
  • identified and corrected potential problems before they blossomed;
  • maintained costs and head count; and
  • maximized customer system uptime and overall satisfaction.
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