Communication with customers is central to any business, writes Sean Manley, national sales and account manager at GhostDraft.
Managing this communication carefully is crucial, especially as the number of customers grows and the world increasingly navigates to online commerce and digital communication. As such, customer communications management (CCM) has become a vital component of a modern company’s IT platform.
Put simply, CCM is the strategy and the system responsible for critical communications between a business and a customer. It is especially important for managing and drafting thousands of complex contracts that lock down what a company will provide the customer, such as home loans, insurance policies, wills, and more.
Beyond the obvious move towards digital business, modern consumers expect personalised solutions – attempting this without CCM has led to many frustrated business leaders and, if we are honest, customers.
So what, then, does a modern CCM comprise?
It has a library of critical documents which may need to be used in communicating with a customer. The specific content of these documents may change depending on the customer and what they need.
Modern CCM has the ability to determine what to include in a document, and how to word it. The CCM solution extracts this information from the core business systems which manage the customer sales and customer service process.
When customer communication is required, these core systems trigger the CCM system to automatically generate the appropriate communications and deliver them to the customer.
At a high level, it is apparent that CCM helps a business improve its customer experience through personalised communications. It lowers a business’s servicing costs by reducing the operations overhead and it increases speed to market through the use of fit-for-purpose platforms.
In addition to this, CIOs and IT leaders motivate for a CCM investment to future-proof the “digital supply chain” – in other words, to support not just products of today but also products of the future.
There are a few considerations that business leaders should consider before investing in a platform. It starts with three important questions.
* Is the CCM solution “quick to market”? In other words, does it enable me to design and produce customer communications quickly so that I can launch new products timeously?
* Is it flexible or malleable? I need to be agile in adjusting to future customer requirements – will the CCM help or hinder me?
* Is it easy to use? My customer-facing staff need to be empowered by technology, not encumbered by it.
If they’ve answered in the affirmative to these three questions, the next step would be to build a clear strategy and roadmap for the system. The strategy should address longer-term business needs and then implement systems with sufficient headroom for the future.
If a CCM system is already in place, CIOs should also evaluate whether they are locked into an unfavourable commercial model – it may be foreign currency pricing, or perhaps a pay-per-use model which makes it more difficult to predict and control costs in a challenging economic environment.
Naturally, as with all implementations and investments, there is risk. However, these risks can be mitigated or eradicated by planning well. When a business migrates to a CCM system, it does so in the belief that it is creating business value.
The biggest risk relates to the opportunity cost of not making the right changes. Businesses, then, need to be using a new CCM system as an opportunity to rethink products and processes, rather than to just replicate the way it is doing things currently.
If the magnitude or impact of change is high – which is typical in more established businesses with complex products and processes – then a key risk mitigation tactic is the ability to deconstruct large change programmes into smaller, incremental projects that can be rolled out in a more digestible fashion, each with their own clear benefits.
The more systems that need to be integrated with the CCM system, the more complex the migration can be. Having a clean and well-understood system architecture can simplify the migration to a new CCM system. Modern, industry-grade CCM platforms allow businesses to manage these risks precisely because of their design and light footprint in the business.
A leading CCM solution allows online businesses in an array of industries, such as banking, insurance, medical, real estate, legal, and much more, to deliver highly complex products to customers in a personalised, accurate and remarkably quick fashion. Businesses that remain at the mercy of manual processes and systems may be left in the dust as new market entrants break historical barriers to entry by unleashing the potential of a well-designed CCM platform.