Does this sound familiar to you? Your company compiled a wealth of customer data over the last couple of years, that could be used to create personalized automated, ongoing customer communications, but you never used it?
Companies of all sizes have at least one customer relationship management (CRM) software system, where they store all this kind of information about their customers. In some cases, a simple Excel sheet is doing the job of a CRM system. Unfortunately, most companies communicate with their customers regularly through plain, unpersonal emails and mail without using all that helpful data to create a stronger bond with their customers. This type of communication with customers mostly results in poor response and customer recommendation rates, doing little to drive meaningful customer engagement.
What can be done to fix this problem? Companies can automate scheduled and ad-hoc customer communications by implementing a modern customer communications management (CCM) software into their software ecosystem. Most of the CCM solutions don’t require making changes to the existing data sources, nor business systems, although allowing customization to fulfill company’s most specific business needs.
The Documents of Customer Communications Management
At this point, you probably wonder what type of communication can be managed with CCM. Basically, it’s each document that the company uses to communicate with their customers. For example, at least once a month, a company communicates with their customer while sending a bill or an invoice.
Some companies send out different types of communications that can be used to engage customers and drive sales. Planning a sale? Send an SMS with a short notice and link to the online shop. Have a new product or service coming out that your customers would like to know about? Send an email or an SMS. Want to know what your customers think about your company? Send an e-form. Have customers that would like your company to send them a copy of their bill or invoice for the last four months? Yep, send an email or mail.
As you probably understand now, in CCM each type of communication is a document, even if it’s an SMS, or a personalized message in the customer’s portal, or messenger. Below you can find three most common types of documents companies send to customers on a regular base.
- Batch Documents
This type of documents is the one companies send out regularly. Batch documents are those that have a specific structure, are scheduled, formatted, and rarely need any changes. A great customer communications management solution comes with a template management application that allows marketing, legal or customer service personnel to add personalized messages, or run campaigns on the free whitespace of these documents, without making changes to the template itself. The templates will be automatically merged with information from your databases about your customers and their service usage, shopping activity etc. These types of documents are usually bills, invoices, or statements.
- On-Demand/Ad Hoc Documents
Each company has them – documents, that need to be created daily, weekly, or monthly, and which are pretty similar and don’t change over time. Most of these documents have templates, that only need to be searched and filled out. But searching for each document template manually, and working with fully editable templates is time-consuming and has a high human error rate.
Therefore, companies use smart templates with locked down parts and unlocked pre-defined editable fields, which are easily found through a user-friendly interface.
On-demand document production is usually triggered by requests from various incoming channels, such as the web, phone, email, social media, etc. On-demand document production can be automated or done manually.
- Interactive Documents
As you might have already figured out, interactive documents are created to trigger a specific action by the recipient. These documents are not sent to the printer, but via email, messenger, or customer portal.
Typical examples of interactive documents are offers, contracts, marketing materials, or anything that requires your customers to, well, interact. Interactive documents are becoming a bigger and much more important part of customer communications management.
Features of modern CCM solutions
When you’re choosing a CCM software solution — or any other software solution — you are looking for a powerful and smart solution that is built to solve your company’s today’s problems and needs as well as future needs, like integrability with existing software and hardware and adaptability to emerging technologies and customers’ changing needs and expectations.
There are a lot of solutions on the market. And a lot of them are positioned as customer communications management solutions, but they’re not all going about it the same way. Each solution concentrates on specific parts of the communication process. So before you start looking for a specific solution to fit your specific business needs, you should get a general understanding of all the features CCM solutions can have. Therefore, below you will find a short overview of the most common and mostly used technologies of typical CCM solutions, which you need to consider when choosing your next Customer Communications Management solution.
- Data Extraction and Transformation – raw unstructured data will be extracted from different databases (e.g. ERP, CRM) in different formats and then transformed into the needed format. The extraction and transformation process is mostly a rules-based process, which is performed automatically in the background.
- Data Filter & Processing – receives a stream of raw data and automatically filters out only the needed information based on applied rules.
- Document Design with Preview – a stage when decisions of how the documents will look like are taken. The more flexibility this part offers, the easier it will be for the technical team to implement document design ideas from the marketing department.
- Document Generation – allows converting text-based documents into powerful productivity tools called templates.
- Production Reporting – user interface that provides visibility into the entire production workflow and offers a business user the opportunity to view the status of all jobs from the point of file receipt through delivery.
- Post-Processing – organizes and schedules tasks, that is performed after the document generation, but before delivery. Documents get automatically sorted and bundled, enveloped, labeled to make sure they arrive in the right order to the right location as fast as possible.
- Campaign Management – adding relevant messages, companies can piggyback promotion or even advertise onto existing transaction-related documents, such as statements, invoices, or bills.
- User/Client Portal – an electronic gateway to the collection of digital files, services, and information, accessible over the internet through a web browser.
- Omnichannel Delivery Software – allows delivering documents to customers in multiway based on customer’s specifications.
- Multi Data Systems Integration – allows integrating the CCM process with all other business processes, to create a healthy ecosystem.
- User Access Level Control – manages the access level of users within the CCM part of business operations.
- Document Storage/Archive – sends generated documents into the solution’s internal, or a third-party place for storage or archive.
CCM is becoming a top priority of CIOs who are engaging in reducing the digital risk management. The smallest misstep in managing the outbound communications can have a large impact on your brand, customers, and losses that can go beyond a few opportunities.
If you are unsure which features your future CCM solution should have in order to meet your short-term needs and long-term digital transformation strategy or to learn how you can better engage your customers and turn customer experience into your competitive advantage, contact us today! We’d be happy to share our 15+ years of experience in delivering efficient CCM solutions to customers from different industries.