Why Customer Lifecycle Management is Critical for Unified Communications Success

2 min read

Irwin Lazar | June 26, 2023

In an age of unprecedented speed of change, customer lifecycle management (CLM) is critical for the success of customers and vendors.

CLM typically refers to the entire engagement process between vendors and customers, starting with initial contact but ideally with no end. During the initial phases of CLM, customers and vendors work together to understand business needs and challenges and to identify and implement solutions that support customer goals, such as digital transformation, delivery of new products and services, and/or reduction in operating costs. Over time, the relationship between customer and vendor evolves, with vendors continuing to proactively engage with customers so that they can understand evolving customer needs and align product roadmap and strategy to develop and deliver solutions that meet those needs.

Consider an example of a hospitality organization that initially requires a communications system to support in-room calling, customer reservation management, and hotel operations. Over time those needs may require proactive customer notification via text, integration with in-room entertainment systems to support guest notifications, ordering, and account management and even proactive marketing outreach to make guests aware of specials or upcoming events. To remain competitive, the hospitality organization may use emerging AI-powered tools to improve customer experience and identify and assist in new sales opportunities.

Absent a CLM approach, the customer may not be aware of the ability of their existing communications vendor’s capabilities to deliver advanced capabilities above and beyond what the customer has already purchased or the ability of their on-premises provider to support a move to the cloud with minimal disruption. The result is likely the customer looking elsewhere for additional capabilities, creating a potential loss of the customer for the vendor, along with additional complexity and cost for the customer if they decide to migrate to a new communications platform.

Metrigy’s Workplace Collaboration MetriCast Market Forecast: 2022 study of 935 organizations found that nearly 26% of those operating on-premises unified communications (UC) platforms were planning to change providers, and another 15.3% were evaluating replacing their providers. Primary factors for changing providers include a desire to migrate to the cloud, reduce cost, access new features such as AI and analytics, and converge various collaboration applications onto a single platform. More than 12% said their provider’s roadmap isn’t aligned with their strategy.

How to Create a Successful CLM Program

An effective CLM approach in UC is built on several pillars.

1. Continuous Customer and Vendor Engagement

This is so that the vendor is aware of the customer’s evolving needs and can support them and that customer requirements drive the vendor’s roadmap and product development strategy. Continuous engagement also enables the vendor to provide the customer opportunities to consider technologies they may not be familiar with or have previously considered.

2. Ongoing Vendor Programs

It is essential to have vendor programs to support the customer journey – from what customers have today to what they will buy tomorrow. This helps to meet the customers’ evolving requirements and to take advantage of disruptive technologies, ideally with minimal impact on existing platforms.

3. Specialized Customer Engagement Teams

Customer engagement teams well versed in the specific customer industry (e.g., healthcare, education, retail, hospitality, financial services, etc.) can offer solutions that allow the customer to maintain or improve their competitive advantage. Customer engagement teams should also offer customized implementation and training programs designed for the specific needs of each vertical.

4. Flexible Options

Another pillar of a successful CLM approach is providing customers flexible options to meet their needs. For example, customers who today may have extensive deployments of on-premises platforms must be able to take advantage of emerging technologies, such as AI, without having to make wholesale changes to their operating infrastructure. This requires a hybrid approach that enables organizations to integrate cloud-based services with their existing on-premises infrastructure or to have the flexibility to migrate their on-premises platforms to a private cloud architecture with minimal disruption.

UC vendors and their customers benefit from CLM. For the vendors, growing with customers minimizes churn. For the customers, partnering with a vendor that provides CLM creates a partnership that ensures that the vendor will provide services that evolve along with customer needs and that provide customers with a means to take advantage of emerging technologies without having to make large, disruptive, and costly changes to existing infrastructure.

ABOUT METRIGY: Metrigy is an innovative research firm focusing on the rapidly changing areas of Unified Communications & Collaboration (UCC), digital workplace, digital transformation, and Customer Experience (CX)/contact center — along with several related technologies. Metrigy delivers strategic guidance and informative content, backed by primary research metrics and analysis, for technology providers and enterprise organizations.

Irwin LazarPresident and Principal Analyst, Metrigy

Irwin is a leader in research and consulting, focused on unified communications and collaboration, digital workplace, mobility, contact center, and customer engagement. He writes regularly for NoJitter.com and SearchUnifiedCommunications.TechTarget.com and is a frequent speaker at industry trade events. Follow Irwin on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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