In the digital age, communications service providers (CSP) have undergone a sea change in their approach to customer interactions. Earlier, CSPs provided services based on the capabilities in their network; however, in the digital age, primary motivation to build any service comes from what the customer seeks.
Traditionally for customer interactions, the contact center and the CRM provided all the capabilities required. Digital consumers want everything at their fingertips. Even the channels through which these interactions happen have proliferated and the contact-center is now one of the multiple drivers. The customer chooses the channel and mode of communication.
As the Internet of Things is evolving and devices go online, completely new channels add data and interactions to CRM.
The figure below shows this evolving change.
Typical Challenges in CRM Solutions
Earlier CRM solutions were built largely for the contact center, which need to adapt to
Sridhar Marella, Chief Architect, Wipro Ltd.
the mobile-driven interactions. These CRMs brought in data from all sources into their own data store, which made them bulky. Today, operators are looking for a solution that enables businesses to become more agile and flexible in their interactions with customers, partners, suppliers, and employees.
Some of the major turn-offs of CRM systems are as follows:
- Disconnected support channels that lead to customer dissatisfaction and high costs for CSPs in terms of resources and workforce
- Lack of a 360-degree view for the operator (and outside of the operator ecosystem), is time and resource consuming for customers
- High average handling time (traditionally, the average handling time for customer complaints was between 250 and 300 seconds), as a result of high number of clicks required to view information and outdated application interface
- Complex data structure and generic screen designs were not built for any particular industry/business
- Long implementation cycle-times for even small changes
New Paradigms in CRM Solutions
With the rapid adoption of mobile phones and other mobile devices as the primary mode of communication, DSPs
are required to adopt five basic characteristics that make any CRM system future ready.
- Collaborative. As the number of partner systems providing products and services increases, there has to be a mechanism to provide seamless integration and exchange of messages between the partners' systems and the CRM.
- Adaptive. Extreme automation requires that systems be re-engineered to have certain auto-learning capabilities. Similarly, self-healing capabilities will define effectiveness of a CRM system.
- Ubiquitous. Accessible from anywhere, any time. A "mobile-first" and "omni-channel" thinking plays a lot in enabling this characteristic.
- Spontaneous. All decision making should be instantaneous – backed by extensive analytics. Capabilities for next-best-action' for customer service representatives should also be driven by analytics that are in-built into the system.
- Elastic. Scalability should be need based and resources should be allocated and de-allocated as per needs.
The changes above create a huge shift in the design from what was traditionally intended for call center users.
Thus, the new CRM is not just an application change, but is a mindset change of the overall enterprise, where every participant in the CRM eco-system carries the responsibility to share its process and data with other applications.
Some of the key benefits to different stakeholder communities of CRM are described below:
- Call center optimization. The primary objective of the solution is to increase the productivity of the frontline agents by providing them
maximum information and at the same time capturing client interactions with minimum
number of clicks. Seventy percent of calls should be answered by only the 360-degree customer page with the help of CTI integration – without a single additional click.
- IT operation. Any solution built without considering operability aspects will fail. The digital characteristics' described earlier require a very deep understanding of the issues in operations which will now be very different. Key considerations would require a management console to monitor, start, and stop all processes; a UI-driven access to logs, traces, and other information required by operations; upgradeability of all components without downtime; and so on.
- Customer experience. Typically, integrated applications have multiple moving parts. Performance or availability problems of even one component can affect the entire delivery chain. The new CRM systems should be built with a portlet-driven design – if one portlet is not working then it will not affect other parts.
- Architecture optimization. The target architecture would need an extremely lightweight and optimized database along with easy-to-use UI. Due consideration should be given to the data being stored in the CRM systems vis--vis the data that it can access from other systems. Any duplication of data should have an approval cycle built into the architecture governance.
The focus of all efforts in customer service is on giving a unified customer experience across touch points. Collecting and storing all customer data in a centralized repository enables operators to communicate with customers in one voice across all channels.
The way to win over this in the digital era depends on how well we integrate available services/processes and how well we can hide the complexity of legacy to deliver a delightful and unified customer experience.
CRM systems earlier provided the primary capability for interacting with customers. As customers become more accustomed to self-help, traditional CRM systems are not relevant any longer. The need is for a system that provides a platform for enabling operators to introduce new digital services, an ability to draw information from anywhere in the enterprise to service customers, and to provide this across all channels in a uniform manner.The acronym C.A.U.S.E makes it easy to recall each characteristic shown in the figure above – and explained below.