Integrated customer management

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Integrated customer management (or its acronym, ICM) is a business strategy for improving support by sharing information between discrete departments. ICM brings together three business principles: alignment, agility, and customer-centricity. The phrase “integrated customer management” was coined by Amdocs in 2004. In the communications industry, the phrase seems to becoming more common. For example, when reporting on the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona in February 14, 2005, the Financial Times printed the headline: “Vendors unveil systems for the real world; Integrated customer management and boosting revenues are the main issues for operators.” [1]

Motivation for integration[edit]

Price and quality of service have become negligible differentiators for companies in the communications, media and entertainment industries (e.g., wireline, wireless, broadband cable, and satellite service providers). The customer experience is emerging as the primary way service providers can stand apart from competitors. The goal of integrated customer management is to align people, processes and technology to enable service providers to deliver the customer experience they intend, rather than having the experience happen as an unplanned result.

Principles[edit]

Alignment[edit]

All people, processes and systems must be aligned to meet both business goals and customers desires. For example, bundling products is a good example of an initiative that crosses lines of business and/or departments. The product development, marketing and sales departments for local and long distance, wireless and data services must work in conjunction to enable the company to assemble and sell bundled services. Beyond this, customer service, accounting and other functions must also align support resources to shield customers from the complexity of all behind-the-scene operations that make these and all offers possible. Alignment allows customers to perceive and interact with their service providers as one company, not as disparate lines of business.

Agility[edit]

In industries where the pace of change has greatly accelerated, service providers must be able to quickly and efficiently react to changing market conditions and customer demands. Entering new businesses or bringing new products to market quickly and cost-effectively is critical and is often a key differentiator between large organizations and their newer, more nimble niche players (e.g., a former utility, wireline service company versus VoIP provider; a traditional financial institution versus a credit card company). Agile organizations can change direction when it makes sense for them to do so—or when their customers demand it—without being hampered by organizational stovepipes, or by inflexible business processes or IT infrastructure.

Customer-centricity[edit]

In the past, ostensibly due to the original utility status of many communication service providers, the customer experience was not a primary concern. Providers sought only to make their products and services available, not necessarily easy to access or use. Therefore, the customer experience was primarily a by-product of internally focused processes designed to achieve the desired result (market or activate a service, generate a bill, enable customer service) efficiently and cost-effectively. Today, consumers have more authority and less patience with a slow, frustrating or otherwise unfulfilling customer experience. Whether they’re interacting with a customer service representative, responding to an advertised offer, downloading content or paying their bill, customers demand that their experience be simple and, optimally, create value for them. Therefore, service providers must put the customer at the center of their business. Customer-centricity means making the business easier for customers to do business with. It also involves understanding customers’ needs and desires and mapping processes and resources to meet them.

References[edit]

  1. ^ FT.com / Home UK / UK - Vendors unveil systems for the real world