How CCM Completes the Circle CRM Started
As someone who has spent over 30 years selling software solutions that impact business outcomes, I have recently found myself at a point of wanting to define and provide clarity/perspective on how CRM solutions have awakened organizations to the idea of a Unified Communications Strategy, and how CCM (Customer Communications Management) solutions can help organizations realize this goal.
A Look Back
Over the past 10+ years, organizations have flocked to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions to help build and manage customer relationships across marketing efforts and customer lifecycles, optimizing customer value at each stage and recognizing that not all customers require the same effort or approach to solving a problem. Organizations are now exposed to the widest picture yet of individual customers, allowing them to dedicate the appropriate resources and attention to different types of customers AND different types of customer interactions.
This is all great news, and you are probably wondering what else matters other than CRM, aren't you? Let me explain. As organizations mature their CRM capabilities, they will have the information and profile data to provide incredibly rich experiences to their customers that were not possible in siloed legacy applications. Some organizations have not completely evolved from legacy systems to modern applications, and because siloes and legacy applications are still being used, some customer experiences have been greatly improved (social media, chat, IVR), while others have been left in the past (bills, notices, reminders, statements).
A Tipping Point
Communications are critical to establish, grow, and maintain customer relationships, which are the key to driving revenue for companies. However, many organizations have not matured to the point of using their CRM data in a meaningful way when communicating with their customers on transactional documents. Compounding an organization's concerns is the fact that customer expectations of how they are being communicated with have rapidly changed in the past ten years. Customers want to have access to information all the time and across multiple devices . So, what do you need to know to help your organization achieve a unified communications strategy? Let's start with the basics.
Customer Communications Management (CCM) Defined
CCM is the integrated set of solutions to design, deploy, deliver and manage interactions with customers across your business. CCM technology involves data aggregation, content management, personalized document design, multi-channel output capabilities - including responsive mobile statements, archival of information for regulatory/ servicing purposes, and dashboard/ reporting. The combined capabilities enable CCM software systems to provide a platform for the many types of correspondence and conversations that take place between the organization and the customer through various channels and devices.
CCM software supports content types such as bills, statements, letters, invoices, correspondences, marketing materials, policies, and welcome kits. To make understanding easier, we have divided communications use cases into structured, ad-hoc, and on-demand processes to help business-process pros like you get a better handle on your application needs.
One to Many
High-volume transactional documents that are processed and delivered in batch mode in print or electronic format on a recurring basis
Monthly or quarterly statements, Welcome Kits, Confirms
One to Many
Communications that are not delivered on a recurring schedule, but are still high volume documents
Updated privacy notice, or targeted marketing campaign
One to One
Communications that are generated and delivered in real-time in response to a particular transaction or event
Call-center driven letters & other service interaction confirmations
So, What is a Unified Communications Strategy?
Providing a consistent brand and image across all customer touch points and delivery channels is difficult. It is even more difficult when ownership of strategy, content, budget, governance, and technology vary by line of business, product, and channel. Combined with a poorly defined or inconsistent customer journey and a proliferation of emerging delivery channels, these challenges are the cause of a fragmented customer experience for many companies. But, if we agree that customer relationships are critical to maximizing revenue, then our Target Operating Model (TOM) must be customer centric. So, how can we put the customer first?
By combining the high-quality customer information contained in CRM solutions with the data used to create transactional documents. CCM solutions are transforming boring, generic output into engaging, rich content across print, computer, tablet and phone devices. It creates a consistent brand experience across all touchpoints that improves the customer experience. But, technology isn't the only thing that needs to change in order to achieve a Unified Communications Strategy. Business processes need to be aligned with technology capabilities and customer journeys to ensure that the customer remains at the heart of the TOM. Additionally, new subject matter expertise needs to be brought in to ensure that organizations can execute on the new unified communications TOM.
While CCM solutions may soon provide the edge in customer experience that will help customers determine where they will do business, an organization will need to make changes to its processes and the people executing them in order to fully optimize the model. Organizations cannot continue to ignore their legacy communications approach, CRMs notwithstanding, and succeed in a market where digital innovators are disrupting the status quo. After all, what good is all of the information in a CRM system if old thinking ignores the many important customer touchpoints that are occurring daily through transactional documents?
The Road Forward
A unified communications TOM, incorporating CCM and CRM technology within a customer-centric operating model, strives to enable organizations to manage print and digital content through one application, leveraging the available information in CRM and other applications to enhance the customer experience. While point solutions exist to solve these challenges independently, organizations would do themselves a favor by avoiding the complexity involved with knitting together point solutions in favor of an end-to-end CCM platform that can quickly plug into their existing technology architecture.
As an advisor to DataOceans, an emerging CCM technology company, I've gained a new appreciation for the importance of CCM functionality and how it can help organizations around the globe optimize their structured, ad-hoc, and on-demand customer communications. What surprises me is that despite the availability of the technology, many companies that I do business with continue to put out sub-optimal communications. It doesn't seem to matter if it's the bland, generic notices that I get in the mail or the continued use of non-targeted envelope stuffers, companies continue to miss the mark in communicating with ME! As a result, I'm trained to ignore them and throw the envelope stuffers out.
The Importance of Addressing This Critical Business Issue Now!
Most companies determine that they need a customer communication management (CCM) solution after they have identified an overarching critical business issue. Poor communications are impacting customer satisfaction ratings. A simple example might be claims correspondence. Your claims representatives may have to "cut and paste" information from multiple applications just to generate a claim letter. If they make a mistake, your customers who are already stressed because it is a claim will let you know by calling your contact center confused or worse, upset. Not to mention the customers who actually complete the customer satisfaction surveys. You've just increased your risk, your costs and decreased your productivity, all while putting your customer relationship in jeopardy. A Unified Communications Strategy, supported by an integrated customer communication management solution, can help simplify this process, reduce errors, and improve governance, all while focusing on keeping the customer happy.
In my opinion, when you select a strong CCM platform and strategy, you position yourself to increase revenues, reduce costs, improve content governance, improve operational efficiency, increase quality customer touchpoints, and enhance the customer experience.