Telecommunications companies in North America are realizing tangible business benefits from customer relationship management (CRM) initiatives and have a higher level of CRM activity than most other industries. These are just two of the findings of a new Fujitsu Consulting research study released today. The research-which included a survey of 45 communications companies and case studies on eight major telecommunications firms – found that several leading communications companies had achieved major improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of their sales, marketing and service processes through skillful implementation of CRM technology.

"Three forces have been driving communications companies to aggressively pursue CRM: soaring costs of marketing and sales, increasing customer churn and rising competition," says David Yamashita, TELCOM360 Solutions Director, Fujitsu Consulting. "These forces are likely to increase as more and more wireline traffic moves to wireless and Internet networks.”

Communications companies that can leverage CRM will have a significant advantage." Keys to success based on nalysis of the experiences of leading communications companies revealed eight common characteristics that contributed to CRM success.

CRM leaders:

  1. Focused on making themselves easier to do business with for customers, not just on cutting internal customer acquisition and retention costs, or on increasing revenue.
  2. Took a cross-functional or even cross- business-unit approach to CRM.
  3. Found ways to provide their customers with a desired alternative, automated service channels, complementing their existing human-assisted channels, cutting cost and improving the customer experience.
  4. Built information systems that provided a view of company relationships with each customer.
  5. Established concrete goals for the initiative and frequently measured progress.
  6. Revised internal corporate measurement and reward systems to focus on customer benefits.
  7. Designed new marketing, sales and service processes with strong employee input.
  8. Viewed CRM as an ongoing process, not a one-time change in marketing, sales and service operations.

The study also revealed a number of significant trends in how communications companies are using information technology to change the way they market, sell and provide customer service:

  • Communications companies are more frequently involved in CRM initiatives than most other industries. Some 38 percent of communications companies had completed a CRM initiative versus 28 percent for all other industries surveyed. Communications companies trailed only utilities (58 percent) and financial services (46 percent in the percentage of completed CRM initiatives.
  • Telcos are shifting a major portion of their customer interactions to automated channels such as the Web, e- mail and interactive voice response (IVR). The average telco plans to reduce the percentage of total customer interactions that it conducts through call centers from 45 percent in 2001 to 31 percent in 2003, while the Web's share of interactions will jump nearly fourfold, from 6 to 23 percent.
  • Reducing sales and marketing costs were goals of two-thirds of the communications companies surveyed that had completed a CRM initiative. Only 44 percent of companies in other industries had "cutting marketing costs" as a goal for their CRM program, and only 50 percent were focused on reducing sales costs.

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