New products and solutions that merely keep up with changing times are no longer a differentiator for a CRM vendor -- that's just the expected price of entry for any legitimate player in the marketplace. Looking beyond updates and upgrades, many vendors have been providing consulting services to help buyers achieve the best results from purchased solutions. Now some vendors have stepped up their efforts, expanding from bare-bones software consulting to the more complex world of business process consulting. That shift helps explain yesterday's announcement by Amdocs of plans to launch a complete portfolio of service offerings.
Ian Jacobs, senior analyst at Frost & Sullivan, suggests that the growing consulting facet will be extremely important for the immediate future, with vendors looking to provide optimal deployments for customers and to avoid any potential backlash from failed or ineffective implementations. "The general idea behind it is that even though it's not necessarily a problem with the technology itself, technology manufacturers are getting increasingly involved in helping enterprises deploy their solution offerings well," he explains.
That's a fair characterization for Amdocs' new offerings, which the company claims are designed to enable service providers to make the transformation from being "providers of network utilities to purveyors of the digital lifestyle." Charles Born, vice president of corporate communications and products for Amdocs, says that while consulting for the software deployment is important, consulting also needs to examine business processes. "Customer satisfaction is really today the ante to play," he explains. "Consumers expect to be satisfied -- what they want is to have a good experience that's valuable to them. [Service providers] need to consider the business philosophy and business objectives of the [client]."
The new Amdocs services, to be delivered by Amdocs Consulting, address both the business and technological issues involved in helping providers increase revenues, lower costs, and enhance customer experience. The services in the portfolio include:
The services are also supported by a suite of modular Customer Experience Transformation service offerings:
- Customer Experience Maturity Assessment (CEMA);
- Customer Lifecycle Management;
- Content Revenue Accelerator;
- Billing Operations Optimization; and
Born says it was imperative to ensure the service was modular in nature, to keep in line with the modular construction of its customer experience software solution, Amdocs CES 7.5.
- Customer Experience Strategic Planning;
- Customer Intelligence;
- Cross Channel Optimization; and
- Customer Experience Measurement.
Born says he believes the CEMA, performed in collaboration with the Oxford University Said Business School, will be the most popular offering in the portfolio, as well as the jump-off point leading to the rest of the offered services. "We've done preliminary work with a few of our service providers on it," he says. "It really gives them an idea of where within their processes and their customer interactions are the most important areas that they need to address that will have the most immediate impact."
The CEMA looks at the customer experience that providers are currently delivering, and measures the level to which it's impacting their customer base compared to industry best practices. Beyond an assessment, the service also offers recommendations to help organizations define, personalize, and implement an "intentional customer experience for each of their customers," according to Amdocs.
Born believes the combination of consulting for both software implementation and business processes is long overdue, and is essential in today's economy. "Creating good customer experiences is not possible through only a software solution -- we need to examine the business processes, an outside-in process," he explains. "For too long, companies and service providers have looked at the business processes to determine how they can drive down costs and, as a byproduct, hopefully create customer satisfaction. The only way to deliver a true customer experience is to really understand from an outside perspective what the consumer wants and how they interact with the company. As we go forward in the market, this will be the true differentiation for many companies."
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