Fierce competition between rival communications service providers (CSP) for the loyalty of often-fickle customers has made customer relations and retention a huge issue for operators.
According to a recent global study by Experian among telecoms executives, end-to-end customer relationship management (CRM) is the most significant business challenge in 2014 for 37% of the executives surveyed.
End-to-end CRM is linked to customer experience management (CEM), which will be one of the key drivers of CSPs’ IT investment this year, according to a recent Ovum report. Operators need to differentiate through CRM and CEM, from customer care to invoicing, to fight customer churn.
Operators’ networks have expanded massively in the last 20 years, but their CRM systems have failed to keep up. Margins are being squeezed and IP-based video and messaging technologies are eating into voice revenues. Operators are collating more and more data on their customers, who often have an increasingly complex service mix, including traditional voice, VoIP, data and connectivity solutions.
Outdated CRM systems are struggling to cope with an influx of customer data generated by this complex service mix. This means that operators’ ability to target new and repeat customers successfully is eroded, and their decision-making is either ineffective or completely misguided. All of which eats away revenue streams and bottom-line success.
To tackle these challenges, operators need to invest in innovation for their back-end systems. They need end-to-end CRM systems that give a holistic view of customer service mixes and help the sales force become more productive by identifying and being able to respond to customer issues more quickly.
A more intelligent CRM system will also empower the sales force to be more proactive in presenting new tailored solutions to customers. And, by merging sales, marketing, service delivery and technical support, operators are able to boost loyalty though better customer experiences.
Ovum‘s research has shown that 80% of operators will roll out Big Data analytics within their networks to revamp their CRM, offer their customers a more connected experience and to enable the provision of more targeted and relevant solutions throughout the customer relationship. Similarly, around two thirds of operators plan to increase their investment in multi-channel integration and service personalisation in the coming year to enhance their CEM capabilities.
It is a huge investment for operators, but it is inevitable. Only by innovating is it possible to survive in this highly volatile market.
Previously featured on Capacity Magazine.