New insights into churn prediction in the telecommunication sector: a profit driven data mining approach

Verbeke, Wouter, Dejaeger, Karel, Hur, Joon and Baesens, Bart, Martens, David (ed.) (2012) New insights into churn prediction in the telecommunication sector: a profit driven data mining approach. European Journal of Operational Research, 218, (1), 211-229. (doi:10.1016/j.ejor.2011.09.031).


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Customer churn prediction models aim to indicate the customers with the highest propensity to attrite, allowing to improve the efficiency of customer retention campaigns and to reduce the costs associated with churn. Although cost reduction is their prime objective, churn prediction models are typically evaluated using statistically based performance measures, resulting in suboptimal model selection. Therefore, in the first part of this paper, a novel, profit centric performance measure is developed, by calculating the maximum profit that can be generated by including the optimal fraction of customers with the highest predicted probabilities to attrite in a retention campaign. The novel measure selects the optimal model and fraction of customers to include, yielding a significant increase in profits compared to statistical measures.

In the second part an extensive benchmarking experiment is conducted, evaluating various classification techniques applied on eleven real-life data sets from telecom operators worldwide by using both the profit centric and statistically based performance measures. The experimental results show that a small number of variables suffices to predict churn with high accuracy, and that oversampling generally does not improve the performance significantly. Finally, a large group of classifiers is found to yield comparable performance.

Item Type: Article
ISSNs: 0377-2217 (print)
1872-6860 (electronic)
Keywords: Data mining churn prediction, profit, input selection, oversampling, telecommunication sector
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HA Statistics
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
Divisions: Faculty of Business and Law > Southampton Management School
ePrint ID: 336471
Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2012 11:44
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2014 20:20

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