HOW CAN CABLE COMPANIES DELIGHT THEIR CUSTOMERS?
Many customers do not love their cable companies. Advanced analytics and causal modeling can discover why, and help to figure out cost-effective ways to boost customer satisfaction, loyalty, and revenues. For Rogers Communications, Cox Associates developed causal models of customer satisfaction; identified high-impact interventions for improving customer satisfaction; and helped to develop achievable targets and strategies for improving customer experiences in different channels (2011). For Comcast Cable, we delivered a statistical analysis of the causal drivers of customer satisfaction to top executives and identified realistic targets and interventions for improving customer satisfaction (2010-11).
HOW TO FORESTALL BAD DEBT AMONG ENERGY COMPANY CUSTOMERS?
In 2007, Cox Associates, in partnership with North Highland, delivered a new statistical risk model for creating timely "red flags" warning when energy utility customers are likely to become bad debts. This early warning system successfully identified the highest-risk customers and showed where earlier interventions -- targeted at the most actionable customers -- could have the greatest benefits in preventing customer accounts from deteriorating into substantial losses. The model identified some unexpected pockets of high-risks, based largely on interactions among payment history variables that could be identified well in advance of traditional warning signs.
WHAT IS THE VALUE OF IMPROVING WEB CHANNELS?
In 2006, Cox Associates, in partnership with North Highland, delivered to a large telecommunications company a computer simulation model and supporting data analyses that quantified the economic impact of improving the company's web channels so that more transactions -- ranging from new service order tracking to repair requests to billing questions -- could be successfully completed on-line. By identifying the preferences and behaviors of different customer clusters using a combination of transactions data and survey data, we quantified the number of customers and that would shift toward the web channel if it were upgraded to work better. The model also quantified the value of sales rep and service rep time saved, and studied the economic values from each other channels, ranging from retail locations and kiosks to call centers.
WHO IS LIKELY TO BECOME BAD DEBT FOR YELLOW PAGES COMPANIES?
In June, 2003, Cox Associates, in partnership with North Highland, developed a new statistical risk analysis model for predicting which yellow pages customers are most likely to become bad debts in the next 1, 2, 3, or 4 quarters, based on currently available information about their business types (yellow pages headings), open invoices (number, ages, amounts, etc.), account age, location, billing history, and other readily available information. The new model outperforms all previous approaches
and provides specific recommendations on which customers are at the greatest risk of defection (i.e., churn), becoming bad debts, or both. This is the first result from a new initiative to decide what specific interventions with which customers when will most increase their values as yellow pages customers. Cox Associates' causal clustering and customer behavior-prediction technology has already revealed some striking new insights about which types of customers are at greatest risk, and programs to reduce churn and bad debt based on these findings are now being designed.
UNDERSTANDING THE REASONS FOR CHURN AMONG ISP CUSTOMERS
A continuing goal for many Internet Service Providers is to reduce the rates of churn (i.e., unplanned loss) of profitable customers. Cox Associates, in partnership with Adjoined Consulting, has recently begun a data analysis initiative to understand how the specific reasons for churn affect observed behaviors (e.g., connect times, number and duration of sessions per month, number of attempted sessions, called-in service questions and complaints, etc.). Based on this improved understanding, we are creating new customer churn risk management algorithms that use changes in observed behaviors to give early warnings of high-risk customers - those who are most likely to churn in the next 6 months - and their most likely specific reasons to churn. These statistical patterns are then used to drive focused, timely interventions to reduce churn rates among profitable customers.
COX ASSOCIATES MODELS ACHIEVE 40% CHURN REDUCTION FOR A MAJOR ISP
In June, 2002, Cox Associates in partnership with Adjoined Consulting delivered to a major Internet Service Provider a set of recommendations on how to reduce churn of high-value customers using predictive algorithms and prescriptive decision models. The recommendations identified specific combinations of changes, including more accurately targeting initial offers, early detection of usage patterns and data that predict probable churn, and timely intervention with the customers who have the greatest predicted loss potential. In July through August, the recommendations were tried. The client's evaluation was that, within 60 days of initial implementation, our recommended churn reduction program achieved a 40% reduction in churn in the most at-risk group of customers -- a large percentage of the total customer base. Based on this highly successful outcome, the modeling results and recommendations have been extended and deployed to a wide set of the ISP's customer base.
WHO INVESTS HOW MUCH IN LIFE INSURANCE AND RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS, AND WHEN?
In May of 2002, Cox Associates in partnership with Adjoined Consulting completed an adaptive predictive clustering (APC) system that predicts which customers are most likely to churn, which are most likely to buy new financial services, and which are most likely to change their asset investments in existing products. The system reads in billing records from a major retirement fund, life insurance, long-term care, and diversified financial services provider and generates probability scores showing
how likely each customer is to exhibit each behavior in the next month. It calculates the expected economic values of different intervention strategies (e.g., focusing on retention vs. additional sales for each customer) and recommends the most appropriate action to maximize the expected value for each customer. A key finding from the model is that the current product portfolio, in conjunction with a customer's age and a few other factors, provide strong, robust predictions about probable next behaviors.
EARLY IDENTIFICATION OF BIG SPENDERS AND LIKELY DEFECTORS AT A CLEC
In October, 2001, Cox Associates personnel completed a study, in partnership with another company, to identify ways to predict which competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC) customers would experience the most revenue growth in the next quarter and which would be most likely to drop accounts. At a time of chaos in the telecommunications world, with a huge number of the CLEC's new customers being acquired in the past year, it appears that our data mining and modeling technology is still able to make robustly accurate predictions of the customers who are most and least likely to show near-term growth.
PREDICTIVE MODELING FOR A LARGE PROPERTY & CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY
In August, 2001, Cox Associates completed an analysis of insurance customer data showing that combining information from homeowner, auto, and other insurance lines using classification trees and state transition models had the potential to dramatically improve accurate identification of cross-sell, up-sell, and retention opportunities. These insights and the quantitative models that support them may speed the implementation of customer scores and predictive modeling at a Fortune 100 insurance company.
WHO WATCHES WHAT ON CABLE TV?
In April, 2001, Cox Associates personnel finished a study of cable company billing records and service records. This study revealed that customers who are most and least likely to add new services (e.g., upgrade from basic to extended basic service, or upgrade to digital service) and those who are most likely to churn can be predicted with useful accuracy from data contained in recent billing records. Prediction rules were created and their performance was evaluated by the cable company, which concluded that they work well.
WHAT DO QWEST'S LARGE BUSINESS CUSTOMERS BUY?
In December, 2000, Cox Associates completed a study of purchasing patterns among large business customers for Qwest communications. The results show that a few key products, together with factors such as account age, predict likely stability or churn of customers. A different small set of products (such as Frame Relay or business voice messaging), in conjunction with past purchase histories, can help to predict likely growth potential. This analysis led to a predictive model of how customer needs and purchase probabilities evolve over time. This work is continuing in 2001 with larger data sets and more detailed analyses.
HOW DOES ADVERTISING AFFECT CUSTOMER PERCEPTIONS AND INTENTS?
In 1Q and 2Q, 2000, Cox Associates delivered to U S WEST (now Qwest) statistical analyses of the effects of U S WEST and competitor advertising and publicity (including brand/service commercials, direct mail, and news stories) on customer ratings of value and loyalty. Applying advanced statistical and causal modeling methods, Cox Associates identified the ad campaigns and customer characteristics that most affect outcomes.
WHAT AFFECTS STATED AND ACTUAL CUSTOMER LOYALTY?
In January, 2000, Cox Associates, in continuing partnership with the Marketing Intelligence Decision Support (MIDS) group in U S WEST Communications, delivered new analyses and causal models of customer survey data that predict how customer perceptions of value and quality and stated loyalty to U S WEST will change as different aspects of installation and repair service are improved. These models are novel in that they explicitly seek to isolate the causal impacts of U S WEST initiatives on customer survey results. This contrasts with earlier models, which focused on statistical associations and predictions, rather than on causal impacts. It also contrasts with previous models developed by Cox Associates which have emphasized changes in customer behaviors, rather than changes in how customers will respond to surveys. Also in January, we completed an analysis quantitatively linking what customers say they will do on surveys to what they actually do in the months following the survey.
HOW DO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS AFFECT DEMAND FOR LOCAL TOLL SERVICES?
In September, 1999, Cox Associates, in partnership with the Marketing Intelligence Decision Support (MIDS) group in U S WEST Communications, delivered the first results from a data mining and modeling project that quantifies the impacts of television advertising on local toll usage and revenues. The findings included some unexpected effects of competitor campaigns and of advertising for other U S products on customer usage of U S WEST toll services.
WHICH CUSTOMERS WILL BE MOST VALUABLE?
In June of 1999, Cox Associates, working in partnership with Price-Waterhouse-Coopers, delivered to the CRMS group in U S WEST Communications a new data analysis and predictive model for identifying the likely future purchasing, product-drop, and account disconnect behaviors of individual customers. In contrast to previous models, this one incorporates more detailed information about the products that a customer initially acquired, the time since last transition (product purchase or drop), and the history of product adds and drops leading up to the current product portfolio. Testing and validation indicate that the new model has significantly greater predictive power than previous ones, achieving lifts of several hundred percent on the task of predicting which 10% of customers are most likely to buy specific products in the next few months. Several product-specific lifts exceed 300% and some exceed 500%. The model is based in part on an underlying discrete-event simulation of customer transitions, with conditional transition intensities estimated from millions of historical data points. It has been used to predict the expected change in products and monthly revenues from individual customers over the next 5 years. (Client Contact: Dr. Jovan Barac, 303-965-3732)
The August 30th, 1999 issue of Telephony mentions how these deliverables are now being applied, in a cover story featuring U S WEST's successful use of Corporate Data Warehouses, data mining, and modeling methods (http://www.internettelephony.com/archive/8.30.99/cover/cover.htm). In this article, our client, Dr. Jovan Barac, speaks of the SAS scoring models developed and delivered by Cox Associates and the value that these models have brought to U S WEST's database marketing efforts.
IMPROVING CUSTOMER PERCEPTIONS AND LOYALTY
In July of 1999, Cox Associates, in partnership with U S WEST's Marketing Intelligence and Decision Support (MIDS) group, completed a first version of a causal simulation model that quantifies the likely impacts of different U S WEST initiatives on customer perceptions of U S WEST quality and value. The simulator uses causal models based on survey data to predict the sensitivity of customer perceptions and stated willingness to drop U S WEST to changes in pricing, service performance levels, service rep training and actions, and other factors. (Client Contact: Dr. B.J. Deering, 206-345-7932)
PREDICTING CONSUMER PURCHASES MORE ACCURATELY
In January, 1999, Cox Associates delivered to U S WEST Communications a breakthrough predictive model for identifying which specific product(s) each Premium customer is most likely to purchase next. The new model, implemented in SAS, is based on data mining algorithms and causal models, including classification tree analysis and detailed consumer state transition modeling. Initial tests indicate that the new Next Optimal Bundle model nearly doubles the expected increase in sales due to targeted marketing compared to older approaches such as logistic regression.
ANTICIPATING NETWORK IMPACTS OF MARKETING DECISIONS
On December 16th and 17th, 1998, Tony Cox and Warren Kuehner of Cox Associates, in partnership with the new national Business Planning unit of AT&T Wireless, gave a two-day workshop on the design of an Integrated Forecasting, Planning, and Optimization system at AT&T Wireless in Redmond, Washington. The workshop documented the ways in which marketing, finance, RF planning, network planning, and switch planning currently work together to forecast network load growth and capacity expansion requirements. It identified gaps in the current process, data, and algorithms and recommended both quick fixes and longer-term improvements. A key theme was that causal forecasting based on predictive models of customer responses, rather than historical trending, is essential to anticipate the traffic load effects of new price plans and other marketing initiatives. Approved clients may click here to download the background materials and final report from the workshop.
In November, 1998, Cox Associates delivered to U S WEST Communications' Small Business Group (SBG) a new model for predicting which small business customers are most likely to drop specific U S WEST products and services. The initial version of the model was based on data mining algorithms applied to behavioral data (product add and drop histories) only. In December, the model was refined by including firmographic and event data. It appears to offer significant power for identifying customers at relatively high risk of churn several months or quarters ahead of the event.
WHO BUYS DIGITAL CABLE?
In December, 1998, Cox Associates delivered initial analyses of market survey data to TCI identifying the types of telephone customers (based on patterns of residential and long-distance telephone use) who are most likely to subscribe to digital cable. Our data mining technology revealed some surprisingly strong relations between the types of telephone services and features that customers purchase and the types of cable services that they will subscribe to. These data suggest some new ways to bundle telephone and cable services to stimulate demand for both. Approved TCI and AT&T clients may send e-mail to us to obtain copies of these results.
Associates, in partnership with SystemView, has
recently been experimenting with a novel idea: applying advanced algorithms
developed for speech recognition and signal processing to predict future
purchase behaviors for customers based on their observed purchase histories.
Initial results, reported in October at the Fall INFORMS conference in
ECONOMIC VALUE OF DATA ITEMS
In late June 1998, Cox Associates delivered to U S WEST Communications a method to quantify the dollar value of specific data elements, such as information on subscription to online services, ownership of PCs, age of account, household demographics, and recent customer purchase histories. The method quantifies the economic values of these data elements for specific business decisions, such as deciding whom to target for mass mailings as part of new product promotion campaigns. Working with data specialists from Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), Cox Associates applied the new method to the example of targeting mailings to stimulate sales of Additional Lines.
METHODS: Our new technique integrates traditional decision-analytic principles for calculating the Expected Value of Sample Information with the data mining technique of classification tree analysis for estimating conditional probabilities of customer responses, given real (possibly incomplete, imprecise, or incorrect) data about them.
RESULTS: Our valuation methods shows that the values of specific data elements are greatest in improving mailing decisions among customers who have roughly a 20% probability of purchasing. The dollar value may exceed $2 per customer for some data elements and some customer groups.
CLIENT CONTACT: Dr. Jovan Barac, U S WEST Communications, 303-965-3732.