The CRM imperative

Operators need to take a new approach to customer relationship management (CRM), whereby all customer interactions are performed in the context of the customer’s end-to-end experience. To adopt this approach, operators must maximize the use of all the customer-experience data within their network OSS, BSS and CRM domains in order to form a three-dimensional view of the customer. This approach will enable operators to ensure positive market differentiation and increase efficiency within their customer operations.
Ericsson white paper.

The Ericsson white paper (link provided above) describes how increasingly reliant CSPs will become on the triumvirate of CRM, OSS and BSS. They hit the nail on the head regarding the importance of a customer’s end-to-end experience in the future and how data coming from the OSS and BSS will improve the customer’s experience via considered use of CRM.

The white paper is well worth a read. The reader should however read the content with implementation in mind. How can the three dimensions of CRM, OSS and BSS be brought together simply, reliably and cheaply? In many cases they aren’t.

The upshot is that these tools are almost always delivered by different vendors/integrators and there is no common integration standard used by the whole industry. Your platforms are high unlikely to be closely coupled, so careful and customised integration will be required to bring the three dimensions together.

This means that a plan for establishing linking keys will be essential for you to bring the three dimensions together. For example, if you’re going to proactively notify a customer of an outage (via CRM), you’re first going to have to link the outage on a specific asset (managed by the OSS) with a customer or customers (BSS).

If you’re embarking on the exercise of building tools for a brand new CSP then you can engineer cross-tool linking keys. If you have a legacy toolset you have to look more closely at retro-fitting the linking keys into existing systems.

In most cases this can be done but you have to give careful consideration to how much benefit will be derived versus the cost and time that needs to be allocated.

I’m a huge advocate of bringing the three dimensions together to deliver outstanding user experiences but there will invariably be a trade-off against expenditure. Keep it simple and remain on the look-out for the small things that can give helpful benefits by using linking keys in existing systems and analytics tools that can merge loosely coupled data sets.

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