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2015 marked a significant remarkable year of accomplishments and development, especially for touch, the leading mobile telecommunications and data operator in Lebanon. The company, which is managed by Zain Group, the pioneering mobile and data services operator in the Middle East and North Africa, has taken the market by storm, reaching an all-high of 53.8 percent in terms of market share. Touch has also achieved several milestones on all levels during 2015.

Building a superior network ready for data and digital services
In a world that is approaching seamless connectivity, touch believes that providing an excellent network with great coverage and fast data speed, through which applications can run smoothly, is absolutely essential for high customer satisfaction. With the Ministry of Telecommunication's Vision 2020 just above the horizon, achieving superior network performance is no longer a privilege, but a must in our digital age. In 2015, touch issued a RFP to expand its LTE-Advanced infrastructure using 800 & 1800 MHz bands from the Greater Beirut Area to cover the entire country and deliver high speed wireless broadband services of up to 300 Mbps. The solution is smart and scalable with the ability to support 4.5G technologies in the future with simple upgrades on the existing infrastructure.

Additionally, touch is continuously optimizing its 3.9G & 4G networks by introducing several features that help improve quality and maximize efficiency. Additional sites and carriers were also implemented to increase capacity and ensure coverage expansion and improvement in rural areas. In order to close the gap between performance measuring systems and actual user experience, touch also started introducing several advanced applications that collect and analyze the quality of experience for different data services. These allow touch to continuously monitor customer satisfaction and to make any necessary additions or amendments.

Delivering value through innovation and partnerships
Of its many milestones, touch has significantly advanced in terms of positioning itself as a pioneer in innovation and providing advanced technological solutions. One illustration of this is the Geo-Targeted SMS service, which is a first-to-market package. This service, allows customers to become aware of unique offers and services from various providers in specific locations where a customer may be present. The service allows a customer to receive specific targeted offers based on their real-time geographical location. The Geo targeted SMS service defines the perimeter around a given location, such as retail stores or malls, and sends out SMS messages to a niche audience who are within the boundaries of that location, at a predetermined strategic timing. Some of the predefined locations include areas such as Dbayeh, Ashrafieh, Hazmieh, Sin el Fil, downtown Beirut and the airport.

To support its customer's digital communications needs, touch continues to offer its customer segments multiple promotions and packages. The Web and Talk bundle, for instance, has been an outstanding success both on the prepaid and postpaid fronts. Postpaid customers benefit from great value (45 percent discount rate) to enjoy an intriguing combo of local and international minutes, data and SMS. Prepaid customers can now enjoy the enhanced web and talk offering with more megabytes, sms and minutes for the same initial price.

Touch also partnered with the global sensation, Uber, and provided its customers with a very special promotion. This association not only boosted touch's brand equity, but also allowed customers to conveniently delight in and embrace digital innovation.

Under the campaign headline of 'life is better with music', touch launched dedicated music bundles with the local startup Anghami. Subscriptions to this service continue to grow at a substantial rate where most customers are using music on their phone to connect to car audio systems.

Because innovation is at the core of touch's business, touch greeted the Lebanese on the occasion of Christmas and New Year in its own way by customizing touch mobile app to reflect the festivities of the holiday season. This initiative included an animated Christmas theme that is activated on the app and a dynamic augmented reality picture, taking competition with prize giveaways.

The touch self-care mobile application has also truly been a fascinating success, reaching another milestone with 830,000 downloads; the 1 million landmark being just around the corner. Touch has recently added new transactional features to its mobile app suite of services for more convenience. Customers can use the touch mobile app with their credit cards to top- up a prepaid line or pay the bill of a postpaid line.

Going beyond its own mobile application, touch, in collaboration with Zain Group, partnered with the very popular game application, Cut the Rope, to provide valuable prizes for game lovers from its customer base when successfully completing its various levels. This has further boosted touch's brand equity as a leader of digital innovation.

Echoing the 'Voice of the Customer' internally for change
Given its profound importance, touch has embarked on a customer experience transformation journey during 2015. It has differentiated itself in the market by implementing Voice of the Customer programs and driving customer-centric decisions based on a strategic framework in coordination with Zain Group.

As part of this program, touch has worked alongside global leaders in customer experience management to help facilitate real-time customer feedback through a listening platform that collects and analyzes feedback and sentiments from customers using touch's main channels.

Based on customer feedback analysis and the call back program in place, touch is now able to provide concrete actions to both front-line staff and executives to improve the brand experience. This has led to an evident reduction in customer effort and an improvement in net promoter score.

Another initiative adopted by touch to collect and analyze data about its customers is the customer days program. During customer days, touch's top and middle management spent several days at the call center and at different service centers all over the Lebanese territories handling calls, processing transactions and listening to the customer feedback.

One day in the life of a contact center or service center agent was a unique experience that helped touch better understand its customers' requirements and meet their needs. All of the above programs aim at integrating the voice of the customer into every employee's work day, as well as driving continuous change and innovation in a customer's daily experience.

In parallel, touch exerts every effort to be near its customers, wherever they are around the country. These efforts recently manifested in touch's new service center in Byblos and 31 POP (point of presence) at Ogero locations. These aim to create proximity with the customer, but more importantly to support the local community and to offer more local customer service experience. In fact, touch's long term plan is to have a total of 56 POP and two new service centers.

Furthermore, a new invoice layout was introduced in December to offer touch postpaid customers easy-to-read and comprehensive invoices. Also, touch launched the data capping initiative to help its subscribers better control their extra MB consumption.

Engaging local entrepreneurs and start-ups
In 2015 touch also invested its energy in promoting innovative ideas and startup forums as well as supporting them. The company has shown profound faith in the Lebanese youth and in their ability to transform their technological ideas into real successful businesses. This is an essential part of the company's strategy which revolves around the local community, especially the youth, thus contributing to their development and helping them optimize their potential.

In 2015, touch organized an interactive seminar at the American University of Beirut to introduce the Lebanese youth to the MIT Enterprise Forum (MITEF) competition for the best business start-ups in the Arab world, organized by Zain in partnership with Community Jameel International, the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of Abdul Latif Jameel Group. The seminar was one of a series of seminars which touch organized in several Lebanese universities to urge Lebanese youth to find inspiration and come forward with their ideas for innovative projects that could change the world.

Touch also participated in this year's Banque Du Liban (BDL) Accelerate 2015 conference under the theme Emerging Startup Ecosystem. Touch's participation was under the headline of A Partner in Innovation, creating a strategic fit that further establishes the company as a leader in digital innovation. During Accelerate 2015, touch showcased four innovative products which were built and made commercially available in partnership with three local Lebanese startups. These included the touch cloud application in partnership with Apstrata, the touch mobile application and the touch Apple Watch App both in partnership with FOO, as well as its music bundles and services in partnership with Anghami. In fact, this event has allowed touch to showcase its most innovative digital solutions and services, positioning itself as a partner for local entrepreneurs in this emerging startup ecosystem in Lebanon.

Touch also is a great supporter for the National Mobile Programing Contest for University Students, founded in 2012 by the Ministry of Telecommunications and the University of Balamand. The contest was designed to introduce Lebanese university students to the mobile programming field and stimulate their interests. Due to its success, the Third National Mobile Programming Contest (NMPC-III) took place in 2015, ending with an awards ceremony that was held at The Ministry of Telecommunications.

In addition, touch partnered with The Ideal Business competition, which selects four teams of entrepreneurs and gives them the business development resources, valuable tools and coaching to compete. It encourages creativity and promises to turn innovative business ideas into a reality. This competition goes under the Innovation of Academic-Industry Partnerships through Efficient Research Administration in Lebanon (IDEAL) project, funded by the tempus IV program of the European Commission. It is also supported by the American University of Beirut.

Guaranteeing a 'positive touch' through distinguished CSR
One of touch's main goals pertains to the development of all its employees aiming at educating them towards becoming more socially responsible, not only in relation to the society, but also the economy and the environment. Touch managed, through a customized program, to develop its staff in this regard and also gather from them corporate social responsibility related ideas and suggestions that are an indication of the success of this program. It encourages employees to move in a common direction that further contributes to Positive touch. Touch truly believes that the program's objective goes beyond internal human capital development and the company is a rarity in Lebanon for choosing to invest in this program.

Touch takes pride in its corporate social responsibility program, Positive touch, through which it has advocated many important causes. Under Positive touch, the company supports three main pillars: environment, society and economy. These pillars manifest in numerous initiatives that touch adopts throughout the year.

In March 2015 and in partnership with the Children Cancer Center in Lebanon (CCCL), touch launched Light a Candle, an unprecedented digital initiative in Lebanon and the region. This project allows subscribers to donate money to the children of CCCL, by lighting a digital candle worth $1, $5, $10, $15, or $20 on touch's mobile self-care application.

During Ramadan 2015, touch also gathered 170 children from SOS Children's Villages between the ages of five and 13, to spend a full day of entertainment and learning at KidzMondo.

In response to the garbage crisis, touch also launched the Green touch campaign, sharing all the information and tools that it regularly utilizes to contribute to the reduction of waste and environmental pollution, such as recycling, reducing and reusing.

Furthermore, touch's online Christmas campaign called for its customers and employees to vote for one of three Non-Governmental Organizations that represent the three main pillars of Positive touch. The people's choice was AFDC, the Association for Forests, Development and Conservation, which represents the environmental pillar. The NGO was granted $15,000 as a result. Moreover, touch and AFDC have decided to join efforts to create touch Forest, a total area of three hectares (30,000 square meters). This space can support an average of 1,500 stone pine trees which are also known for their high economic value.

These constitute a few of the company's CSR initiatives. Touch has worked towards many other sustainable projects which were widely recognized and awarded.

Reaping assorted recognition rewards
Touch's commitment to its CSR program, Positive touch, has been the inspiration behind many of its initiatives and programs, and in 2015 touch received the golden award for The Text If You Can Campaign which was recognized as the best corporate social responsibility initiative at the Effie Mena Awards. Text If You Can is an idea proposed by J. Walter Thompson and implemented in partnership with YASA, a NGO for road safety. By aligning influencers such as celebrities, opinion leaders and the media, touch embarked on a scientific mission to discredit the multitasking myth.

Furthermore, during the Royal Grand Finale Ceremony of the 10th edition of Tatweej's for Arab Business Leaders and Leading organizations in the Arab region, touch was crowned with the Red Purple Scarf adorned with the Golden Medallion under the category of Business Excellence & Differentiation. This honorary award came as part of Tatweej's initiative which aims to recognize leaders, managerial figures and businessmen in the Arab world for all their professional achievements and successes which reflected positively on the region's economy and development.

Touch also won the Best Marketing Campaign award for its Tawasol line. Touch launched the Tawasol Line in order to enhance communication among the displaced Syrians residing in Lebanon, and to bridge the communications gap between them and their families at home. The Tawasol line is a tailor-made prepaid line offered at a discounted price

The combination of all such initiatives led touch to a groundbreaking 81 percent of the total share of new customer acquisitions in 2015 and serving now a total of more than 2.27 million customers.

Its customer-centric strategy, innovative services, quality infrastructure and philanthropic nature have made touch a real success story for 2015. Touch remains focused on further improvement and development to ensure it continues to deliver value and advanced, innovative services to all its customers and increase its care for the community.

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