Creating a Fresh Face for Convergys
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Creating a Fresh Face for Convergys

Convergys' reputation was marred by a common perception – with media in particular – that its conservative roots translated into a large, inflexible operation.

Paul Holmes

 

Edelman successfully capitalized on a growing business trend toward outsourcing to effectively reposition Convergys Corporation and contribute to its financial success in 2000.  Through an aggressive, integrated national and trade media relations program, Edelman was able to generate positive coverage positioning the company as a leader in outsourced billing and customer care.  This positioning contributed to sales growth in excess of 20 percent for the year.

MARKETING CHALLENGES

The telecommunications industry is undergoing a global transformation as communications, information technologies and related services begin to merge.  Fueled by the explosive growth of the Internet and e-commerce, and customers’ desire to stay in touch anytime, anywhere, the telecom revolution has created the market for a vast array of advanced technologies and services.

But generating profits from these advanced services is another story.  This requires new, complex and highly scalable billing and customer care systems, flexible enough to change with evolving telecom, cable and Internet platforms, and scalable enough to handle rapid customer acquisition.  If a service provider can’t effectively bill for the new, complex services it is rolling out, it has failed to capitalize on a potential revenue stream.  And if it can’t effectively manage its customer relationships, then those customers will likely churn to another service provider.

Enter Convergys. The Cincinnati-based company’s billing and customer care services are tailor-made for the rapid development of new services fueled by converging technologies.  But with the pace of technological change, the industry has been totally focused on the application, or solution, not the critical back end, or support service, which is the enabler of the technology.  Our first marketing communications challenge for Convergys was to shift the spotlight away from the front-end technology applications to the enormously important back-end support services which provide customers with a total solution for managing their customer and billing relationships. 

Our second key challenge stemmed from Convergys’ Cincinnati Bell roots and stigma as an “old Bell” company.  Convergys was formed in 1998 when Cincinnati Bell spun off two of its subsidiaries – MATRIXX Marketing and CBIS.  The company’s reputation was marred by a common perception – with media in particular – that its conservative roots translated into a large, inflexible operation.  Edelman was able to overcome this perception by demonstrating the company’s agility, technological innovation, and industry leadership. 

RESEARCH/PLANNING

To better position Convergys, Edelman conducted secondary research to identify opportunities that would highlight the company’s vital role in enabling the rollout of new, convergent solutions.  One such opportunity – outsourcing – was quickly gaining industry-wide attention as a high-growth business practice with projected year-over-year sales gains in excess of 20 percent. 

STRATEGIC APPROACH

The industry trend of outsourcing non-core business objectives played right into Edelman’s hands. Convergys’ stature as a leading outsourcer was undeniable – it is the world’s largest provider of outsourced customer services, serves nearly 45 percent of US wireless companies, and one-third of cable companies in a billing capacity.  These statistics are true differentiators, and helped Edelman position Convergys not only as a leading solution provider to wireless, cable and Internet industries, but also established Convergys as one of the elite outsourcing corporations worldwide – leading entire industries into a new way of doing business.

EXECUTION

Based on strong media interest in the trend, Edelman focused its program on a national media and vertical trade campaign designed to leverage Convergys’ leading industry rank and positioning executives as industry thought leaders.  Our focus was in building Convergys’ reputation and unique ability to serve its customers in both the information and customer management arenas. The primary focus was an aggressive media outreach program combining targeted press releases with proactive story pitching.  We also utilized key relationships with industry and financial analysts to build third-party credibility and an endorsement for Convergys’ story.  Convergys focused its messaging on Convergys employees, business decision makers, industry and financial analysts, and stockholders. 

In order to effectively gauge the success of the program, Edelman worked with Convergys to develop a quantitative pointscale system designed to numerically categorize feature trade coverage in three respective converging markets: Internet, wireless and cable/broadband. Feature articles were attributed a score from 1-10, with a ten being the maximum points possible. The trade media program objectives were measured monthly though an outside monitoring analysis group called EMAP. Points were assigned depending on the quality, length and depth of news coverage and these results were compared to Convergys’ key competitors across three vertical markets. 

RESULTS

During FY2000, revenues grew 23% from $1.7 billion to $2.1 billion

Inclusion on the S&P 500 Index

Recognized as one of Fortune’s Most Admired Companies

Most recently, awareness of Convergys’ technology, management and operational excellence helped earn it a spot on Forbes Platinum 400 list (Jan. 8, 2001 issue)

Gained favorable coverage and commentary based on extensive briefings and interviews from leading financial analysts such as Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, Prudential Securities, Morgan Stanley/Dean Witter and Buckingham Research Group, and top tier industry analyst groups like International Data Corporation (IDC), Aberdeen Group, Zona Research, Forrester and Yankee Group. Some excerpts: 

“Convergys’ CMG division is far and away the market leader in outsourced customer care…”                 – Prudential Securities

“CVG is one of our strongest recommendations…” – Merrill Lynch

“Convergys is a world-class company…” – IDC

Widespread coverage resulted in all targeted media segments, including major placements spotlighting Convergys’ outsourced customer care and billing services within: The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Investor’s Business Daily, Bloomberg, Dow Jones, Financial Times, Industry Standard, Reuters, CNBC.  Edelman secured the placement of Convergys’ CEO and Chairman, Jim Orr, to discuss the company’s financial earnings and general business strategy on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” “Market Wrap,” and “The Edge” programs as well as Bloomberg’s “Lunch Box.” Additionally, the company’s strong financial status was supported in quarterly earnings announcements, financial analyst calls and investor presentations.

Trade media coverage highlighted Convergys’ stature as the leading outsourcing provider and feature stories appeared in targeted publications such as: Wireless Week, CableWorld, CED, Multichannel News, Multichannel News International, Wireless Review, Telephony, X-Change, CommVerge, Total Telecom, New Carrier, Billing World, and several online venues. Coverage in leading technology and Internet press included: America’s Network, InternetWeek, PC Magazine, IP-IQ, Upside, and Red Herring. 

Coverage in leading technology and Internet press including America’s Network, InternetWeek, IP-IQ, PC Magazine, Telephony, The Industry Standard and Upside.

Using the measurement system, it was determined that by October 2000, Edelman had already met its feature trade goals in the wireless and cable/broadband sectors, with the majority of the story content focusing on Internet messaging, and outperformed key competitors such as Siebel Systems.  As of December, Edelman surpassed its overall trade goal for positive feature media coverage.

Supported key industry tradeshow events in the telecom, cable/broadband, and Internet sector with press materials, client counsel, media interviews and briefing books.
Created an award-winning annual report that reflected Convergys’ repositioning and corporate vision.  The annual report conveyed a new technology, agile, and forward-thinking image in its design and copy while confirming its financial growth.

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