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Making the Case for Customer Profile Management
To reach a holistic view of the customer and the various ways customers are using services, providers must tap into a wider variety of data sources than ever before, encompassing marketing, CRM, billing, and data from other applications throughout the enterprise.
Posted Jul 19, 2004
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Take a look around any airport, shopping center, or restaurant and you're bound to see people using anything from mobile phones to BlackBerries to pagers to access both voice and data services. As telecommunications customers use more services like text messaging, multimedia messaging, and personalized content delivery over more types of mobile devices, the relationship between the customer and his service provider becomes more complex. To reach a holistic view of the customer and the various ways customers are using services, providers must tap into a wider variety of data sources than ever before, encompassing marketing, CRM, billing, and data from other applications throughout the enterprise. Linking disparate data sources and applications can become a costly endeavor. How can the service provider raise the level of customer care to support these more complex relationships while keeping costs under control? The answer lies in enabling customers to build a unique profile that allows the service provider to not only become smarter about how customers use its services, but also drives more revenue and builds customer loyalty in the process. Customer profile management The number of services available to customers is increasing dramatically, and these services are also becoming more complex. For service providers to keep up and still understand how customers use voice and data services, the customer must begin to organize and manage his own account, and to buy and configure these complex services independently. Service providers must make it easy to do business online or through mobile devices, providing customer care on the customer's terms. Using this strategy customers get more control over their interaction with their service provider; at the same time, many more options for promotions, content, and services are opened up for the service provider. One method of allowing customers to organize and manage their accounts is through account hierarchies. An account hierarchy can be set up in a variety of ways, including parent and child accounts, personal and business accounts, and prepaid and postpaid accounts. Account hierarchies can also be set up to manage different types of devices and content delivery services. For example, a customer may have a business account tied to a PDA device that he uses to receive business email for which he expenses charges on a monthly postpaid basis to his company. He may also have a personal account through which he has elected to receive personalized sports scores on his mobile phone, as well as a prepaid sub-account for his daughter's mobile phone service. In an account hierarchy, this customer can set up recurring or prepaid payments, check his daughter's usage, and add new personalized services for delivery to his mobile device via his personal account.
In the past service providers turned to CRM applications to manage this kind of data. However, CRM applications manage customer information that the CSR needs, not the information that the customer needs. By allowing customers to build dynamic profiles with flexible hierarchies, information is available to both the CSR and the customer. In addition, customer profiles can act as the "single source of truth" for customer data for other applications and users. The result: A subscriber's profile is a composite of subscriber, billing, service, and device characteristics that define the subscriber and the sessions he initiates. In other words, the service provider knows down to the individual customer level how its customers use their services, while customers can store and update information in the way that makes the most sense for them. Impact to the bottom line Customer profile management allows service providers to improve their level of customer care by putting power in the hands of the customer, making it easier for customers to do business with their provider. By allowing customers to manage their own services and preferences, it reduces the number of calls coming into the call center and in turn, reduces the cost of customer care. Customer profile management also enables new channels for communication, interactive marketing, cross-selling, and upselling and delivers a new way for the provider to learn about its customers. Taking action on a holistic customer profile as part of a comprehensive self-care solution can enable the service provider to truly know the customer, provide higher levels of service, decrease costs, improve revenues, and increase overall customer satisfaction, all by allowing the customer to manage his own account. About the Author Steven Rodin serves as CSG Systems' executive director of product management. As part of this role Rodin combines business management principles with an intimate knowledge of technology, business development, systems integration, and the market for wireless and communications solutions. Prior to joining CSG Systems, Rodin served as president and cofounder of Toronto-based Davinci Technologies Inc., which was acquired by CSG in January 2003.
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