Eight Benefits of Customer Communications Management
This is a three-part series of articles in which we delve into the status quo of communicating with customers, describe Customer Communications Management (“CCM”), and list the multitude of advantages in using software for customer communications.
What you should know about CCM
Customer communications management:
- Provides corporate-wide deployment spanning different departments and functions.
- Reassigns responsibility for documents to specialists.
- Ensures a consistent corporate image.
- Minimizes any compliance and liability-related risks in documents.
- Offers the potential to optimize costs and up-sell / cross-sell.
- Provides full control of customer communications.
- Helps avoid errors in correspondence from manual intervention or workflow missteps.
- Means a central platform for all corporate communications.
Wastage in customer communications
One can maximize profits and cut costs in the field of customer communications. Many enterprises still do not realize this and continue to waste money on postage and impersonal communications with customers. This situation prevails, in spite of the fact that responsive customer correspondence should be optimized more often to help fulfill corporate goals.
A step ahead of the competition with your customer correspondence
The way you communicate with customers can be the decisive factor that makes you stand out in a packed competitive landscape. No wonder that a February 2011 survey of SMEs by IBM confirmed that customer care is taking on increasing significance for enterprises, with 79% of respondents ranking better customer care as the key issue faced in their business.
Even the McKinsey Quarterly of April 2009 lists three facts that highlight the rising importance of customer communications to enterprises in general:
- 1. 98% of enterprises lack an effective or efficient strategy on how to deal with documents.
- 2. for each Euro an enterprise spends on composing a document, another nine are needed to manage it.
- 3. even modest investments to optimize document-related processes can have a major impact on the financial outcome.
Optimizing your customer communications and document-related areas helps add value to your IT, editing, document creation, and customer management units while distinguishing you from competitors. Adding a personal touch to your correspondence makes you focus on customer loyalty and winning new customers, thus emphasizing the increasing importance of communications with customers.
Constant emphasis on costs, control, and quality
A growing service mentality and the triumph of social media as the communications platform preferred by consumers has brought about many changes in this field. Yet, the status quo at many enterprises remains unchanged as follows:
- Each department communicates separately with customers.
- Many data processing applications and IT systems are not at all or inadequately integrated into the processes for customer communications and document creation.
- The CI/CD are inconsistent, depending on who worked on the respective document.
- There is no central platform for saving, managing, and extracting information.
The aforementioned issues cause problems in corporate communications. By not reacting to new ways in which consumers communicate, enterprises are incurring steadily rising costs – not to mention the serious financial drawbacks of deploying mostly printed correspondence (outmoded approach) instead of digital communications. Moreover, the costs of following-up on written correspondence are relatively high.
Wherever communications generate competitive advantages, inadequate controls could mean a significant disadvantage. For instance, it can be difficult to enforce guidelines and standards of quality without proper tabs on the communication channels and actions of customers and employees. Enterprises must therefore constantly emphasize the costs, controls, and quality of their communications. These are the key parameters to focus on when introducing modern CCM to ensure standardized communications.
CCM – a panacea for enterprises
The expression Customer Communications Management was used by analysts like Forrester Research, the Gartner Group, and Madison Advisors to define a convergent set of information technology solutions for communicating with customers.
The goal of CCM is to optimize the way enterprises communicate with their customers. This does not mean sending more offers or information to customers, but rather boosting the relevance, uniformity, and clarity of the correspondence.
Compose personalized correspondence for the customer
Forrester Research emphasized the need for appropriate software support for CCM and called the platform DOCCM, which stands for “Document Output for Customer Communications Management” and is defined as:
Software used to compose, format, personalize, and distribute content to support physical and electronic customer communications and improve the customer experience.
CCM is therefore a field in which software is used to format and personalize customer-responsive content and send it in an electronic or physical form. CCM encompasses various kinds of content, such as letters, bills, financial correspondence, marketing materials, reminders, and offers.
Recognize the hidden potential and applications
CCM should be one of the core competencies of an enterprise, since it facilitates direct contact with the customer, regardless of the industry or sector concerned. Applications can be divided into structured, interactive, and on-demand documents.
According to Forrester Research, the relevant processes fall into the three categories below:
Structured documents are scheduled, consistently formatted, and rarely need any formal changes. Template management plays a subordinate role here, while such documents are often in batches or offset print runs. Success thus depends on generating large volumes and controlling the print data streams.
Examples: phone bills, brokerage statements
Interactive documents require linking the customer-specific data with predefined structures. Compared with structured output, these call for a high degree of personalization. This means that the software uses a particular set of text blocks, rules, and variables to provide more individualized output based on matching customer-specific and customer-relevant data. Many enterprises would like to see templates, document structures, and text blocks controlled by specialists, while having the option to control documents through multiple channels.
Examples: customer correspondence, marketing materials, offers, contracts
These documents are generally triggered by requests from various incoming channels of an enterprise, such as the Web, fax, phone, email, and ERP systems with integrated solutions. On-demand output may be initiated automatically or manually.
Examples: service correspondence in a call center, documents from a Web portal
The CCM concept is basically a technical one, regardless of the kind of output an enterprise wishes to generate. It applies mostly to the data-handling system (CRM / ERP) used to create the documents.
In addition, the concept focuses solely on a dialog with customers. Since implementation is short, the IT department can return to concentrating on its main tasks once it hands over responsibility for the content to specialists.
Coming soon in Part 2
In the next article in this series, we will tell you why it makes sense to implement CCM.