What governance mechanisms need to be put in place to ensure common customer data and a shared customer service center? What metrics might be useful?
First of all, common data standards will need to be adopted that allow most of the data from the divisions to be recorded in standard format. The divisional data that may require specialized format could be left to the divisions to record as they see fit. In addition, a central data repository will have to be put in place where all the operational data from the divisions is collected and is available for management analysis. The data will also be available to all the divisions and will be automatically updated as the divisions carry out their operating tasks. The divisions will soon realize the benefits of a central IT infrastructure that not only automatically structures the data in a useful manner for analysis but also allow them to see the impact of their activities on the company’s profitability.
Central IT committee may be formed whose members will include all the divisional presidents. When the divisions feel their voices are being heard, they will be more enthusiastic in supporting the IT initiatives decided by the committee. The divisions will also submit customer data so that a central database of customers can be created. This central customer database will contain all the necessary information for the central customer service center to market company products as well as address customers’ questions. Certain performance metrics may be developed to assess the effectiveness of a central customer service center such as frequency of customer complaints and customer referrals etc. Similarly, control metrics may also be incorporated in the system which will ensure that customer data is safe and will be accessible by authorized personnel only.
The divisions will be consulted regarding the adoption of IT technology and the cost benefit analysis will be done to choose the most appropriate IT tools for the customer service center. A detailed analysis will be carried to identify tasks that are viable candidates for automation and will significantly reduce the workload on the divisions. Moreover, the IT personnel from all divisions will be trained so that they understand the central customer service system well and are able to better coordinate with their colleagues from other departments. The management will continue to monitor the IT implementation plan and support will be given to the division to familiarize them with the new system on an ongoing basis.