The wireless industry is growing rapidly. According to the GartnerGroup, by the end of 2000, one billion mobile phones will be in use worldwide, with 60 percent of those Internet-enabled. As operators scramble to gain market share, the industry is rife with mergers, alliances and price and product promotions. To succeed in this dynamic environment, wireless operators must think beyond the next new customer, says Forrester wireless analyst Mark Zohar. "Gaining customer loyalty is key," he says, "and that means new and better CRM solutions."
A case in point is the CRM solution recently implemented by Orange Communications, a Lausanne, Switzerland-based telecom provider that launched its commercial cell phone network in Switzerland last year.
The Orange solution--developed by Cambridge, Mass.-based Pegasystems--converges Orange's Web and call center channels, integrates front- and back-end systems and employs a customized integrated voice response (IVR) system. This allows Orange to provide personalized service throughout the full lifecycle of the customer--from setting up initial accounts to managing everyday service inquiries such as billing, problem reporting, network coverage and handset issues.
From the customer's viewpoint, this means prompt service and on-target answers. If a customer calls in to check on an order change or with a billing question, the rep can ascertain the service status or address the billing issue without transferring the customer to another department or putting them on hold. By automatically linking billing and product/service information in one central place on the desktop, the system streamlines the customer service process, allowing a single rep to provide timely answers on a broad range of issues.
From a management perspective, Orange derives additional benefits from the computer/telephony integration. For one thing, call volume can be handled more efficiently because the number of screens and key strokes a rep has to sort through when serving a customer is significantly reduced.
In a second stage of the Pegasystems roll out, Orange implemented Pegasystems' PegaWEB product to provide a Web-based dealer activation solution at the points of sale. Mobile phone dealers across Switzerland can use a standard Web browser to access the Orange extranet in order to activate phone lines for new mobile users. The dealer can determine which Orange offerings fit that particular customer's requirements, and explain the choices intelligently. Orange's Web-based activation system helps the dealer optimize service, then sets up the phone line activation and communicates with back-end systems, like billing, to add the new customer.
"The Orange On-Line Activation system is a perfect example of what the extranet should offer: not just static product information, but real Web-based transaction processing," says Charles Paumelle, Pegasystems' European product marketing manager.
Perhaps the most unique feature of the Orange system is its multilingual capability. The Swiss market is particularly difficult to serve due to its diversity, with a large number of foreign workers and a significant diplomatic community. There are three official languages in Switzerland--French, German, Italian--and at least one unofficial one--English. The Pegasystems solution is programmed to handle queries in all four.
Through the IVR, Orange customers select a language option. The IVR then responds in the appropriate language, often allowing the customer to bypass the rep altogether for routine queries.
IVRs alone, however, are not a substitute for a living, breathing customer service representative (CSR), analysts agree. "Carriers recognize that customer support requires a certain level of technology expertise and interpersonal savvy that only a CSR can provide," Roberta Wiggins of Yankee Group's wireless division says. "The trick is to use technology to make the reps more productive, not to supplant them."
The Orange solution adheres to this principle, leveraging the multilingual capabilities of the IVR to empower the rep. "Orange representatives can generally handle multiple languages and switch from one to the other very quickly. The Orange CRM application removes the stress of figuring out which language to speak for a new call, as the screens and prompts for the CSR appear straight away in the appropriate language," says David Wells, Pegasystems' vice president for Europe.