InfoComm Review: Tailor made (Part 2)
EmptyAs the various players in the telecom space assemble and roll out their triple- and quadruple-play bundles, convergence is becoming an everyday reality for consumers. As companies strive to manage expanding product offerings, diminishing competitive differentiation, and increasingly powerful and demanding customers, the winners will be those telcos that convince their customers to buy and keep more products and services as well as meet and exceed their customers' expectations at all critical customer touch points. Faced with this challenge, traditional product-oriented organizational structures and systems are simply no longer up to the job. An alignment of the customer relationship management (CRM) program and supporting organizational structures, processes, and technologies is required to achieve a sustained excellence in customer experience, service, and responsiveness.
Getting started on a CRM program of work will require developing key customer experience principles that must be adhered to in order to provide customers a personalized experience. The first principle must deal with getting the right customer to the right channel to deliver the most relevant and meaningful experience.
Customer centricity focuses a company on identifying the critical customer experience principles it must follow to address customers' needs and translate those needs into capabilities it must develop to deliver the target experience. With this framework, the company can align its CRM efforts with developing those capabilities and fulfilling the promise of operationalizing the customer experience principles.
In the telecom environment, examples of customer experience principles that may be relevant are:
- Common front door -- A single number to call for all questions regarding products and service.
- Customer intimacy -- Providing customer service agents with access to relevant customer information so they can communicate an understanding of a customer's situation and current status or issues that a customer may be calling about.
- Effective customer routing -- Integrated telephony capabilities that mitigate the need to transfer customers.
- First call resolution -- The ability to resolve customers' queries and concerns on the first call or to "case manage" a request effectively.
Aligning organizational and process requirements to the customer experience principles, then, allows for the definition of technological requirements and ultimately leads to a robust implementation road map.
Moving to customer centricity requires the active participation of and coordination across many functions and divisions. Many leading telcos have confirmed the common issues they are facing with this coordination--understanding who their customers are and should be, as well as their needs, and how the company should respond to fulfill those needs. Our experience shows that, irrespective of the stage of maturity in pursuing a customer-centric approach and linking the approach to its CRM efforts, a telco usually will need to take six steps to create the most value from customer relationships.
- Establish a customer-centric understanding of segments and their evolving needs.
- Build on this foundation to create an understanding of each customer interaction with the company throughout a customer's life cycle by adhering to the customer experience principles.
- Identify the implications for the four CRM functional domains--sales, marketing, customer service, and reporting and analytics--to support customers' needs and interactions.
- Catalogue and prioritize gaps in the current strategy, organizational structure, process capabilities, and enabling technologies.
- Develop a road map for addressing any gaps, as well as the change management components required to support these efforts.
- Execute phased initiatives identified in the road map.
All stakeholders must accept the six steps, thereby enabling a customer-focused, problem-solving approach. In our experience, in all cases where the environment has become one of rapid collaboration across functions, a better customer experience has been realized.
Bringing it all together
Our hypothesis in this article is that the wave of convergence, driven by the accelerated roll-out of broadband technology, is permanently changing the ground rules for customer relationships across the industry. As products multiply and become more complex, as carriers create new content partnerships and advertising models, and as differentiation on the basis of product continues to shrink, customer centricity will become the differentiating factor.
These changes necessitate a solid understanding of the customers served, their profitability and their needs, which will drive the identification of key customer experience principles that must be adhered to and delivered. These principles will drive the organizational capabilities as well as the supporting organizational structures, processes, and enabling technologies that deliver them. In our view, this shift is not an option but a prerequisite for a place in tomorrow's infocomm marketplace. Those that fail to embrace this shift face being left behind as their competitors achieve customer differentiation and excellence. Leadership and executive sponsorship are critical to adopting customer centricity.
The winners in the converged, broadband, infocomm marketplace, which is now emerging, will be those who not only understand the full value of every customer but also can act on that knowledge. The way to achieve these goals is to recognize and harness the full potential of customer centricity and its implications for the company's CRM capabilities.
Mike McGrath is a partner and Ash Bassili, Quentin Orr, and Gerald Adang are directors in PricewaterhouseCoopers' Information and Communications Industry group. For more information, contact Mr. McGrath by phone at  (3) 8603 2874 or by e-mail at email@example.com; Mr. Bassili by phone at  (3) 8603 2325 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; Mr. Orr by phone at  267 330 2699 or by e-mail at email@example.com; or Mr. Adang by phone at  20 568 5964 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is an excerpt of a longer interview from PricewaterhouseCoopers' InfoComm Review, Volume 11, No. 2. To request copies of the full publication, please contact Laney Royal by e-mail at email@example.com.