When was the last time you thought of customer communications management?
If you said “recently,” that’s a good sign.
Because simply adding CCM to a long list of routine operations-related tasks might not be a good idea.
When you make CCM just one more thing to do, you might walk past important business opportunities. The chance to generate more revenue by cross-selling, up-selling and encouraging customer engagement. Oh, and don’t forget to stay compliant and to maintain a good brand image.
Staying in Touch with Customers Throughout the Buying Cycle
At each stage of the buying cycle, customers have specific concerns and expectations. Financial institutions, communications companies, and utilities can meet these expectations by sending customers welcome kits, bills, invoices, policy documents, receipts, notices and alerts.
But how you manage customer communications can affect how well your company meets its business goals.
Evolving Services, Growing Expectations
Enterprise companies with big budgets have developed internal CCM capabilities, including printing facilities and complex communications workflow. These operations manage the entire CCM process from data management, layout, production and delivery and often included a CCM application at its core.
SMBs have always outsourced their customer communications tasks to third-party print services. These vendors managed everything from data transformation to document composition, production, and delivery.
As long as the print was the sole means of communications, relying on print service bureaus for customer communications worked well. But a new generation of always-on-the-go customers started to expect web, mobile and social network communications on digital channels as well.
The CCM Outsourcing Alternative
Although SMBs still depend on service bureaus for their print communications,
For digital communications, many small organizations invest in email and internet connectivity point solutions.
Often, these software packages don’t integrate well.
The result: A user experience that’s frustrating, time-consuming and unsatisfactory.
Integrated CCM platforms are available, but SMBs continue to use the painful, time-consuming point-solution approach. Why?
Usually, staff members prefer to focus on tasks and processes that generate revenue. Anything IT-related is a distraction. At small banks or insurance companies, for example, staff sizes are limited. There might be one person dedicated to IT tasks. (In a really small business, the “IT guy” might be the COO.) And small print volumes don’t make a good business case for costly applications or data specialists.
Driving the Move to Digital CCM
Adoption of integrated CCM platforms might be slow, but three challenges are driving up use rates:
- Meeting stricter security and compliance requirements.
Companies of all sizes and levels of business experience grapple with ever-stricter data security and regulatory compliance. But before you get tempted to manage these issues in-house, consider this: does your staff have the skills, time and desire to manage data security and compliance in-house?
- Growing revenue by engaging customers.
There are many ways that companies can use digital CCM to extend a positive retail experience. Customers might interact with a text message, watch a video, click on graphs or simply respond to a payment request delivered in a friendly way.
- Growing revenue by keeping tech-savvy customers loyal.
The need to maintain customer loyalty is an important fact of business life. Customers today are mobile and expect their bank or insurance company to reach out to them whenever and however it’s convenient for them.
Companies that cannot provide this level of convenience can reduce customer loyalty and a high-quality customer experience. Some SMBs do meet this requirement on their own with in-house point solutions. But it’s still very difficult for them to provide consistently high-quality customer experience.
SMBs wanting to run in-house CCM systems with limited IT assets face many powerful challenges:
- An endless stream of change requests from regulatory agencies.
- The need to respond quickly to business and marketing conditions in local markets.
- Lack of skilled data specialists, who can operate the CCM system quickly enough to benefit from business intelligence.
Ideally, your print vendor would invest in modern CCM technology and use the latest software applications in updated services. Unfortunately, this ideal approach is far from the reality in the CCM market.
MINIMIZING BUSINESS RISK: FOUR APPROACHES, ONE SOLUTION
Digital CCM can reduce security, technology, compliance and many other types of risk. Companies of all sizes can reduce these risks and take control of their customer communications process by taking any of these approaches:
1. Outsourcing to several vendors
You can hedge business risk among different vendors. However, they all must have similar skills and experience for each set of services, an impractical requirement that would be difficult to meet.
2. Investing in an In-house digital CCM platform
You could buy a CCM platform for data management and analytics, creating and managing CCM templates and making digital deliveries.
However, this approach also requires engaging separate print and email vendors. For the largest companies, licensing agreements can cost from hundreds of thousands to a few million dollars.
Making a business case for this investment requires explaining substantial capital and operational expenses, such as purchasing and licensing costs and training specialists to operate the CCM system.
3. CCM as a service
Many industries have embraced cloud-based SaaS and subscription pricing. The CCM space, however, is still dominated by on-premises solutions.
Recently, Microsoft, SAP, Salesforce and other manufacturers of enterprise-class software made a strategic move from on-premises software to on-cloud applications. For smaller businesses, this makes sense, because the on-cloud approach helps companies avoid many labor and operations costs.
- Less time and effort to use- By adding ongoing maintenance and upgrade support to SaaS subscriptions, SMB users can get to work without worrying about expensive training and IT support.
- Lower costs- Finding specialized (expensive) talent that can work on-cloud CCM applications is part of the slow adoption problem. These specialists are hard to find and strain the IT budget when they join the staff. For most SMBs, their talents are out of reach.
4. CCM as a managed service
This is the best bet for SMBs because this pioneering approach is designed to bridge application and resources gaps that smaller firms experience. SMBs can avoid infrastructure, maintenance, security and other support costs of owning a CCM platform. CCM as a managed service offers these benefits:
- Pay-as-you-go subscription model- As in other cloud-based services, customers pay only for modules used.
- Third-party management- There are no AMC or maintenance costs.
- Management options- You can use the platform, hire experts or run a hybrid CCM system.
- Scalable CCM services- Change platform capacity and staff size as your business requires.
When you run CCM as a managed service, you can engage print vendors of your choice for print and email processing tasks. You get the flexibility to respond quickly to changing market conditions and maintain control over the customer communications process.
Are you ready to go digital and take control of your CCM process? Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212 225 8430 for a demonstration or proof of concept.