AT&T and Accenture in $2.6B Customer Service Deal

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A multibillion-dollar agreement between Accenture and AT&T has been signed in hopes of helping the telecommunications giant with its customer service while boosting long-distance sales.

In what could be defined as a large CRM project for the telco, AT&T will spend approximately $2.6 billion over the next five years, in which both companies will combine resources to the management, staffing and technology to make over AT&T Consumer's long distance sales and customer care operation.

Under terms of the agreement signed earlier this month, AT&T Consumer will continue to remain responsible for establishing business direction, defining marketing strategies and designing product offerings, and will provide the majority of employees for the project.

For its part, Accenture, a management consulting and technology services organization, will be responsible for providing new technology development and additional management direction.

Accenture will initially provide several hundred of its staff to help lead the transformation and implement technology improvements.

Accenture will also provide training and performance management methods aimed at AT&T's customer care representatives and equip them with the latest tools and information they need to efficiently serve customers.

Although the announcement was made yesterday, hardware and software vendors and third-party entities involved in the deal were not disclosed because they had not been chosen as of yet, according to Pat Hogan, a partner at Accenture.

"CRM is a large chunk of the deal, and yes, Siebel could be one of the players," says Hogan. "Overall, if you look at the benefits to AT&T, it's improving the customer experience. That's the major objective, just like managing costs."

Accenture was chosen for the job, says Hogan, because AT&T executives believed that they could best reduce the risk of managing that cost.

Hogan says his Accenture is bringing to this agreement a broad experience of CRM and business transformation experience.

"Are there horror stories?" asks Hogan, regarding CRM initiatives. "I guess you could find some, but we're bringing something to the table that I believe will be a successful customer experience."

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