Customer data creating revenue opportunities in unlikely places

Customer data collected by operators presents an intriguing opportunity and some are finding unusual partners to team up with. France’s SFR is one such operator and Mathieu Gras, head of location based services (LBS), told about how the firm has found itself contributing data to help increase blood donations among its customer base, build better public transport infrastructure in Paris, and even fight crime.

Gras said that SFR is monitoring the activity of mobile phone users across France to create studies and research reports for public authorities.

“We are not selling our customers’ data, but by selling our studies of anonymous data, we are helping with projects to ease congestion and help build more efficient public transport in Paris,” he explained.

The operator has been undertaking a project to monitor the journeys made by football fans after watching matches at France’s national stadium, Stade de France. As France’s subway system does not require travellers to tap out with NFC cards or insert tickets as they exit stations, public transport authorities had no way of discovering which destinations their passengers travel to.

“What are they doing? Are they using public transportation or taking their own car? Where are the popular meeting areas? Our data can help find these answers. As a result of our studies, we can suggest to public transport service providers where they should build dedicated shuttle services to ease congestion on the roads and the transport networks,” said Gras.

He explained that the operator is using Igloo Geolocator, an LBS solution from software provider Intersec, to help it leverage its network assets to create new revenue streams. Using the solution, the operator also helped to successfully promote donations of blood across its user base.

“We knew where the blood donation vehicles would be and sent an SMS to our customers that were nearby saying: You are within 200m from the blood donation vehicle, please spend 15 to 30 minutes to give blood,” he said.

“It was a complete success. People often forget to give blood even when they had been intending to, and sometimes finding the vehicle is difficult. But in this instance, the medical staff collected blood to their full capacity by 2pm; usually they stay until 5pm.”

The operator has even used its customer data to help law enforcement authorities. Gras recalled an instance when a girl in France was kidnapped and called the police but did not know where she was.  SFR’s data was able to pinpoint her location and alert the authorities.

The operator’s use of location based services is not just useful for public sector organisations though. The firm also teams up with large private businesses for traditional LBS services such as mobile advertising and mobile marketing schemes. Unilever, for example, recently implemented a project with SFR whereby all of the operator’s customers at the beach on a sunny day were notified of discounts on their ice-cream products at nearby outlets.

And the operator is also using location based services to expand its own services portfolio. It has developed a navigation tool for feature phone users, as well as introducing a “find your phone” service, available to its customers for a small fee.

“Sometimes you can’t find your phone. It hasn’t been stolen; you just don’t know where it is,” said Gras. “Our customers can log in to our portal securely from a PC and find out where their phone is. Not only does this create revenue, but it also decreases the number of calls that our customer care department receives, and reduces our costs.”

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