Telecoms operators are in a category of their own when it comes to customer experience and support. They often have millions of private and business customers, for a start, and customers are their most valuable assets. They also have to combine “legacy” systems with newer technology and services, and manage myriad service and product options across a number of different platforms.
What’s more, telecoms operators are in the midst of a battle being fought on several fronts. They face growing competition from OTT players and Internet companies that are muscling in on their turf, and are fighting to stay relevant in a world where consumers have numerous communications options at their disposal.
Telcos also have to face up to the fact that as things stand, they are not popular with customers because their support services have not kept pace with changing demands. What’s more, they are losing out to players that are perceived as being “trendier” - and certainly more nimble. Today’s “digital natives” are far more technology savvy than previous generations of customers. A more sophisticated approach is required in this increasingly virtualised world.
For telcos, good customer relationship management is not only required but is essential to their future survival. Indeed, the customer experience is one of the few last areas where operators can differentiate themselves. In order to manage these diverse and highly complex organisations, a robust and scalable CRM system should be placed at the heart of the telco business and form an integral part of the corporate strategy.
Finding the right CRM system is, however, easier said than done: given all the choices that are available today, where do you start? What aspects of a CRM system are required to allow a telco to manage the customer experience better than before to enable it to stand out from the pack?
Cross-industry CRM systems fail due to their inflexibility and heaviness. Those CRM systems are not logical products for telcos because of their fixed processes and fixed data schemas – they cannot integrate well with the complexity of the CSPs’ existing systems. As recent evidence for such failures, a well-established cross-industry vendor is understood to have paid a heavy court settlement for its product failure.
What the industry needs is telco CRM – a CRM tool that is industry-specific, appropriate, proven in high order and product volumes, offers broad functionality, and has well-designed user interfaces and the agility to integrate with existing and modern telecom infrastructure. The CRM tool should enable full multi-channel and omni-channel integration, interaction with new business models, support multi tenants, and should be integrated with products and service catalogues. On top of these requirements, the perfect CRM tool should provide big data analytics and social CRM tools in order to gain actionable insights to improve overall customer experience management – it needs to be the true definition of a 360 degree view of the customer.
Whether you choose a platform that is on-premise or in the cloud, the CRM system should be highly customer centric, providing valuable insights into customer behaviour and usage. It should be comprehensive and provide a “360-degree customer view” of all aspects of the customer relationship throughout the customer lifecycle. That also means being able to react when there is an issue that could prompt a customer to churn to another provider. In essence, a robust CRM solution should enable a telco to obtain a single view of the customer and provide proactive support when and where required.
Customer relationships play a huge role in determining the success or failure of any telecoms operator’s business. Manage customer interactions well, and they will enjoy lasting relationships and improved ARPU. Conversely, they could start to bleed customers if the experience remains poor. Worse still, those customers now have access to social media that enables them to share poor experiences with their peers, meaning that potential new subscribers are lost forever.