CRM and Telecommunications Services
In this article, we review some of the considerations for CRM and telecom services. Telecom companies such as telcos and mobile/cellular vendors have moved quickly to adopt CRM principles. In our article on CRM in the financial services sector, we noted a number of issues which can challenge CRM adoption, including the vision and commitment of senior management, choosing customers, creating new value, overcoming legacy investments and developing meaningful e-CRM strategies. These issues are barriers in the telecommunications services arena, too, although not always of equal significance. There are a number of dimensions that merit special mention in this sector:
1. Single view of the customer
Companies with a single view of the customer are able to link call centre databases, Internet orders and inquiries, customer prospect lists, accounting files, and other databases so they have but one view of the customer. They are able to update this in real time and ensure that a customer accessing the company through the Internet, for example, is treated seamlessly if they next contact the call centre. This single view is necessary before the company can consider issues such as a learning relationship, true interactivity, prediction, and creating new value with individual customers. For telecom service companies, a single and comprehensive view of the customer, while a sought after objective, is not yet in place. For several firms, there remains an opportunity to further develop the customer data warehouse and knowledge management, and deploy software to manage all inbound and outbound customer interactions.
2. CRM as a series of tactics
As suggested above, the full potential of CRM will not be realized until one view of the customer is in place. But, more generally, telecom service companies would do well to see CRM as more than a series of tactics to realize customer value. Sending out highly targeted customer promotions and measuring the ROI of these promotions is good. Tying these initiatives together in an integrated way to execute a CRM strategy would be better. Best would be the restatement of the strategy of the business as a CRM strategy.
3. Businesses Well Known for B2B CRM
Telecom service companies deploy sales reps to cover business-to-business accounts. These reps know their accounts well indeed, but they are less well supported by CRM technology than they might be. Opportunities exist, for example, for each salesperson to be a CRM manager, reviewing the relative importance of accounts, receiving suggestions for behaviour management, and selecting personalized and customized communications solutions to drive this behaviour. Software exists to ease this task.
4. Customers Triaged According to Value
Telecom companies have already assessed the value of their customers to the company and have triaged customers by this value - Best, Average and Worst or according to their profitability and potential for growth. Some telecom service companies have used this triage as a basis to organize their companies according to the value of the customer. They often have the processes in place to address each type of customer efficiently and effectively. As suggested by comments from the preceding section, there remain opportunities for some companies to more fully realize the value potential of their customers through technology, to manage customer churn, to increase the scope of services used from a single service provider, and to build a learning relationship.
5. Excellent Use of People to Respond to E-mails
It is no longer acceptable to receive a timely but irrelevant or impersonal response obviously sent by an automated system. Software and service bureaus are available to manage responses, analyze content in e-mails to auto-reply in context with personalized messages. The right technology can provide an intelligent response to every customer choice in real-time, unobtrusively.